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Logo for Jazz Celebration 2021It is our pleasure to welcome you to the first ever virtual edition of the MSU Denver Jazz Celebration! 

Celebrating “Jazz, Art, and Education in the Heart of Downtown Denver.”

Featuring performances by some of Colorado's finest musicians with bands led by Anisha Rush and Monique Brooks Roberts as well as special guest artists Kneebody, säje, and Michael Mayo. 

All events will be livestreamed and free and open to the public. Webinar links will be available here and the Facebook event page.

MSU Denver Virtual Jazz Celebration 2021

Schedule of Events

Virtual Concerts / Video Presentations

Wednesday, February 17 - Terence Blanchard (Moderated by Dr. Liz Macy, with special guests Eman Alexander, Johnaye Kendrick, and Shane Endsley; in conjunction with the Music, Race, and Social Justice Visiting Artist Series) - 6:00 pm 

Thursday, February 18 - Anisha Rush Quartet featuring JoFoKe Virtual Concert, 7:00-8:00 pm 

Thursday, February 18 - säje Video Presentation, 8:00-9:00 pm

Friday, February 19 - Monique Brooks Roberts Quartet Virtual Concert, 7:00-8:00 pm

Friday, February 19 - Michael Mayo Solo Set, 8:00-9:00 pm


MSU Denver Jazz Performance Class Guests - Mondays at 2:30-3:20 pm

February 1 - Kneebody 

February 15 - Meet Monique Brooks Roberts and Anisha Rush 

February 22 - Meet säje 


Featured Artists


Image of Kneebody

Kneebody in MSU Denver Jazz Performance Class
Monday, February 1, 2:30-3:20 pm

In their almost two-decade history, the Grammy-nominated band Kneebody has created a genre and style all its own. Their sound is explosive rock energy and high-level nuanced chamber ensemble playing set within the frames of highly wrought compositions that are balanced with adventurous no-holds-barred improvising.

Kneebody is keyboardist Adam Benjamin, trumpeter Shane Endsley, saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer/bassist Nate Wood. The band has no leader or rather, each member is the leader; they’ve developed their own musical language, inventing a unique cueing system that allows them each to change the tempo, key, style, and more in an instant.

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard

Livestreamed on Wednesday, February 17
With special guests Eman Alexander, Johnaye Kendrick, and Shane Endsley
Moderated by Dr. Elizabeth McLean Macy, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

This conversation and roundtable discussion with Oscar nominee, six-time Grammy-winner and 2018 USA Fellow trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard on February 17, 2021, was a collaboration with the 2021 MSU Denver Virtual Jazz Celebration (celebrating "Jazz, Art, and Education in the Heart of Downtown Denver") and the 38th Annual Black World Conference (sponsored by the MSU Denver Department of Africana Studies). This keynote conversation about music and activism was moderated by Dr. Elizabeth McLean Macy, with special guests Eman Alexander, Johnaye Kendrick, and Shane Endsley.

Anisha Rush Quartet featuring JoFoKe

Image of Anisha Rush holding saxophone

Meet the Artists: Monique Brooks Roberts and Anisha Rush in Jazz Performance Class
Monday, February 15, 2:30-3:20 pm MST

Anisha Rush Quartet featuring JoFoKe Virtual Concert
Thursday, February 18, 7:00-8:00 pm MST

Saxophonist, composer, and educator Anisha Rush earned a BM in Jazz Studies from the Thompson Jazz Studies Program at CU Boulder.  She actively performs as bandleader of the Anisha Rush Quartet as well as the Pursuance Trio. She has also performed with The Ron Miles Group, The Boy/Girl Band lead by Art Lande, and the Colorado Jazz Group Big Band.  Rush released her debut album, Pursuit in October of 2016 after receiving the Pathways to Jazz grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance.


Image of saje

säje Video Presentation
Thursday, February 18, 8:00-9:00 pm

Meet säje in MSU Denver Jazz Performance Class
Monday, February 22, 2:30-3:20 pm

The GRAMMY® nominated vocal supergroup, säje (rhymes with “beige”), is the brainchild of vocalist/composers Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick, and Erin Bentlage. Born out of close friendship and incredibly deep admiration, these world-renowned artists, composers, and arrangers have come together to explore, create, and celebrate the music that moves them. As individuals, each artist has crafted their own notable solo career, and now are delighted to bring their collective voices to this union, traversing a vast array of compelling original material, beloved jazz standards, and contemporary re-imaginings (Alina Engibaryan, YEBBA, Johnny Cash, etc). säje received their first GRAMMY® nomination in November of 2020, for their first composition “Desert Song” in the Best Arrangement Instruments and Vocals category. The union of säje is rooted in the tradition of joy, curiosity, lush harmony, heart-felt expression, and profound sisterhood.

Monique Brooks Roberts Quartet

Image of Monique Brooks Roberts

Meet the Artists: Monique Brooks Roberts and Anisha Rush in Jazz Performance Class
Monday, February 15, 2:30-3:20 pm MST

Monique Brooks Roberts Quartet Virtual Concert
Friday, February 19, 7:00-8:00 pm

Violinist Monique Brooks Roberts is a firm believer that music is key to feeding and nourishing our souls, and her mission is to inspire audiences with messages of peace and love. She has performed and recorded for Lizzo, Alicia Keys, Common, Jill Scott, Mos Def, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, J. Cole, Shawn Mendes, Mumu Fresh and more. She was a touring member of the Philadelphia String Quartet, and has performed with the Soulful Symphony Orchestra, Gateways Festival Orchestra, Harlem Symphony Orchestra, and Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey.  She has appeared on the Grammys, VH1 Storytellers, NPR’s Tiny Desk, CBS Late Show With David Letterman, Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the BET Honors. She currently performs and tours with Rootstock Republic, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, and as a solo artist.

Monique’s first solo album ‘Free’ was released January 31, 2020 and debuted at #12 on the iTunes R&B/Soul Charts.

Michael Mayo

Image of Michael Mayo singing

Michael Mayo Solo Set
Friday, February 19, 2021, 8:00-9:00 pm

Whether Michael Mayo is performing with a full big band, a rhythm section or alone with a looper pedal, his classic vocal style commands the attention of listeners worldwide. Born to two successful musicians, the Los Angeles native grew up just a little more than 20 feet from the likes of Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind and Fire, and Stevie Wonder. This proximity helped Mayo create a musical path centered around the innovative elements of R&B and Jazz, forging his musical identity long before he hit the stage.

After receiving his Bachelor’s from the New England Conservatory of Music, Mayo attended the acclaimed Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, only the third vocalist to be accepted into the 20-year-old program, where he learned from Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Luciana Souza. Mayo, now living in New York City, is a veteran international performer whose highlights include singing at the White House, the Kennedy Center and Renee Fleming’s American Voices Festival, as well as the Panama Jazz Festival. Most recently he has collaborated or shared the stage with Herbie Hancock, Kneebody, Gretchen Parlato, Christian Sands, Josh Groban, Ben Wendel, Becca Stevens, and Theo Bleckmann among many others.

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