Skip to main content




April 12, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Count Basie drummer plans SRU visit

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Dennis Mackrel, legendary drummer, composer and musical director of the Count Basie Orchestra, will headline Slippery Rock University's 12th annual Jazz Festival April 13. He will offer a master class and perform with the SRU Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. in Swope Music Hall.

"He is a significant figure because he has played with and recorded with nearly all of the significant big bands over the last 30 years," said Jason Kush, SRU instructor of music.

SRU's Jazz Festival brings high school jazz musicians to campus for master classes, adjudication and rehearsals. Stephen Hawk, SRU professor of music, started the festival.

High school musicians will be adjudicated by SRU faculty from 1-4 p.m. Faculty will give a master class at 4 p.m., followed by a master class taught by Mackrel at 5 p.m. The master classes are open to the public.

Mackrel, a child prodigy, joined the Count Basie Orchestra in 1983. At 21, he was the youngest member of the Count Basie Orchestra and the last drummer to be hired by Basie.

He worked with and traveled with Basie until Basie's death in 1984.

Machrel has also played with The American Jazz Orchestra, The Carla Bley Big Band, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band and The Manhattan Symphony Jazz Orchestra. He has also performed with Tony Bennett, Quincy Jones and Sir George Shearing.

The suggested contribution for the performance is $3 for students, $5 for the public.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.