Festival History

Roswell Jazz FestivalPrior to our incorporation and as a direct result of the New Orleans Katrina hurricane disaster that brought composer and jazz pianist Dr. Roger Dickerson to Roswell as an evacuee, an ad hoc committee composed of Roswell community leaders developed a number of local jazz concerts that featured Dr. Roger Dickerson and other musicians.

On November 20, 2005, following advertisements in the local media along with multi-colored 11 x 17″ posters, Dr. Dickerson  performed at 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, in a program that was devoted to gospel and sacred music, and from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Roswell Museum and Art Center in a concert for New Orleans children benefiting the Louisiana Children’s Museum.  Nearly 200 persons were in attendance.

Following that highly successful event, the committee sponsored a Mardi Gras event on February 24 – 26, 2006. The weekend began with duo jazz piano sets at the Pecos Flavors Winery featuring Dr. Dickerson and the Michael Francis Trio on Friday, and Dickerson with the group “Fatso” on Saturday. 

Sunday, a jazz worship service was held at the First Presbyterian Church followed by a catered brunch and concert at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.  This event featured the 7-piece Sunshine Dixieland Jazz Band  and vocalist Judy Day. Pianist Dickerson also performed duo jazz piano sets with pianist Michael Francis, accompanied by bassist “Pepe” Carmona and drummer Ricky Malichi. About 190 persons attended.

Proceeds after expenses established a small seed-money base for a major jazz festival that the Pecos Valley Jazz and Arts Festival committee planned for the weekend of October 13-15, 2006.  It was named the Pecos Valley Jazz and Arts Festival. 

One of the key components of the festival was a 5-hour educational program, utilizing the talents of invited jazz artists to provide insights into the performing of jazz for area high school and college instrumental players, singers, and dancers.

In addition to Roger Dickerson and the musicians who had performed in the previous jazz events, the committee’s music director, Michael Francis, invited world-class guest artists from across the country to participate.

Musicians from the east and west coasts, from New Orleans, San Antonio, El Paso, and Santa Fe were funded through contributions solicited from local sponsors and ticket sales.

They included Randy Sandke, trumpet; Nicki Parrott, bass; Peter Sprague, guitar; Eric Hutson, drums; Tom Fischer, clarinet and saxophone; Dan Borton, saxophone; Bob Foskett and Kenny Rupp, trombones; and Bobby Black, guitar and banjo.

In 2009, after three successful prior annual festivals, the committee voted to change the official name of the event to Roswell Jazz Festival. The 2009 and 2010 festivals again were successful. The 2010 festival featured 24 world-class musicians, including the Guest of Honor, acclaimed trombonist Dan Barrett.

The successful 2011 festival named Nicki Parrott, exceptional bass player and vocalist from Australia, as the Guest of Honor. In addition to many wonderful sessions by 22 musicians, Bucky Pizzareli and Eddie Erickson conducted a fascinating educational guitar seminar, fielding questions from the audience. They were both back in 2012; Eddie was named the 2012 Festival’s Guest of Honor.

Another great festival, our 7th Annual, was held in 2012. We added Evan Arntzen and Scott Edmunds, great clarinetists; Raciel Tortoló, Latin percussion; and many of our 2011 musicians.

The 2013 Roswell Jazz Festival exceeded our expectations.  All of the musicians seemed to be giving beyond their usual 100% to show their collective admiration for Guest of Honor, Rebecca Kilgore.  Jaws were dropping and eyes were popping all over Roswell as trumpet prodigy, Geoff Gallante, shocked crowd after crowd by exhibiting skills far beyond what anyone would expect from a 13-year old.  His closing performance with the El Paso Youth Jazz Ensemble at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art served as a perfect ending for year 8 of the Roswell Jazz Festival.

The Festival Committee looks forward to theJazz Festival and future development of music and arts events, programs that will be both entertaining and educational. 

About the Festival

The Roswell Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, kept alive via generous donations, in-kind sponsor donations, and grants, plus ticket and merchandise sales. The Festival Committee looks forward to the  Jazz Festival and future development of music and arts events, programs that will be both entertaining and educational.

Website Committee Mission Statement

The mission of the Roswell Jazz Festival Website Committee is to develop, create, and maintain a website (and assist with electronic initiatives) for the Annual Festival that serves as a portal to all things jazz- and Festival-related; to enhance the Festival attendance and experience for locals and visitors; to allow feedback on all aspects of the Festival (ticketing, musicians, venues, local shopping, accommodations, website,  electronic initiatives, etc.); and to help guide ongoing improvements.

Use our contact form to Email suggestions!