Newberry College’s 65th Jazz Festival to feature saxophonist Jeff Coffin

February 23, 2023

Historic festival coincides with largest-ever SCBDA jazz event

Newberry College invites you to enjoy world-class artists and music at its 65th Jazz Festival, to be held March 3-4 on campus. The event will coincide with the South Carolina Band Directors Association’s 25th Jazz Performance Assessment.

The weekend will include clinics and concerts with two all-state jazz ensembles, and performances by a record 71 middle and high school jazz bands from across South Carolina. The big event will be a special concert by the Newberry College Jazz Big Band, featuring guest artist Jeff Coffin, educator and member of the Dave Matthews Band.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Coffin Music.

“We are so excited to host a record number of school bands, and we’re especially excited to feature the legendary Jeff Coffin,” said Dr. Jerry Gatch, director of bands at Newberry College. “This event is a great opportunity for students from middle school, high school and college to grow as musicians and work with some great jazz educators.”

Coffin, the event’s headliner, is a three-time Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Yamaha artist and composer. The Maine native performed with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones before joining Matthews in 2008. He also fronts his own bands, Jeff Coffin & the Mu’tet and the Viridian Trio, and he boasts more than 10 solo CDs. Coffin holds a bachelor’s in music education from the University of North Texas, and he serves on the music faculty at Vanderbilt University.

Throughout the weekend, the middle and high school jazz ensembles will each perform three selections for adjudicators and receive a rating. These performances will take place in the Alumni Music Center and Wiles Chapel on Friday afternoon and all-day Saturday.

High school students from across South Carolina were selected through competitive auditions to participate in two all-state jazz ensembles. Leading the bands this year are professional musicians and educators Ron Westray and John Lamkin.

The all-state bands and the Newberry College Jazz Big Band will perform back-to-back beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Wiles Chapel. The college band will perform last at 1 p.m. The festival and concerts are free and open to the public.

The Newberry College Jazz Festival has been one of the longest-running of its kind in the nation, having begun in 1958. The festival has been held in conjunction with the association’s event since 1998.


About Newberry College

Newberry College is a private, residential, co-educational institution with a diverse student population. Founded in 1856 by the Lutheran Church, Newberry College continues to be ranked among the South’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report, consistently honored for value (No. 6), social mobility (No. 8) and overall best (No. 11). Offering baccalaureate degrees in 37 majors, one online graduate program, four online degree-completion programs and five dual-degree programs, the College’s foundation remains grounded in the liberal arts. In addition, the College offers 22 NCAA Division II sports, cheerleading, dance and esports. Newberry College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the National Association of Schools of Music. For more information, visit