Knox musicians highlight of Al Sears Jazz Festival

Excerpt from the Peoria Journal Star:

As notes of jazz waft through Chandler Park in the coming days, the artists traveling to Macomb to perform are as varied as their musical styles and histories….

….Events on Saturday begin at noon in Chandler Park, the same time the Gazebo Arts Festival kicks off. Performers are scheduled to take the stage each hour until midnight and include a variety of groups from Western Illinois University joined by the St. Louis Rivermen and the Dave Hoffman Quintet with vocalist Semenya McCord.

A Galesburg native and middle-school teacher, McCord teaches general music and the choirs.

She moved back to the area after living in the Boston area for 30 years. She said she travels back two or three times each year to perform with musicians she worked with previously.

“I’ve been bringing a few of them here to Galesburg for my own self-productions at the Orpheum Theatre, at Knox College and at Monmouth College, as well as in the Quad Cities at the River Music Experience Museum,” she said.

McCord’s material takes jazz back to its roots and includes spirituals, blues and gospel.

“It’s all there,” she said, “whenever people are communicating through rhythm and melody, not only telling stories that everyone can appreciate, but also creating new stories that cause us to think, to feel and find value in our diversity.”

Dave Hoffman of the quintet lives in Speer, where he says there is plenty of quiet to practice his trumpet.

Hoffman spent 13 years playing with Ray Charles, at the same time working with Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald and Gladys Knight.

After returning to Illinois in 2004, he began performing with his own group and has performed with the Temptations and the Illinois Central Jazz Train. He also teaches music at Knox College and at Illinois Central College.