Gahanna residents are invited to take in some jazz music by Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District students, as well as alumni, during the 26th annual All-District Jazz Festival.

The event will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, in the auditorium at Gahanna Lincoln High School, 140 S. Hamilton Road.

The free concert will feature performances by Lincoln's Jazz Bands I and II; The Cool Men, a student-led combo; and the Middle School East, West and South jazz bands.

Also featured this year are three guest artists who are Gahanna alumni, including Robert Mason, piano, 2010; Willie Barthel, drums, 2014; and Jailynn Lake-Noel, bass, 2016.

"This concert gives all of our jazz students the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with professional jazz musicians," said Kelly Shellhammer, Lincoln's jazz bands director. "These types of events are great learning experiences and create an appetite for additional information in the art of jazz."

Lake-Noel is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Louisville studying music therapy and jazz.

She has played bass for 15 years, performing with a number of artists across the Midwest, including Jamey Aebersold and Bobby Floyd.

"I'm really excited to come back to my hometown and share this musical experience with the jazz bands," Lake-Noel said.

Mason began playing the piano at the age of 9 and was quickly immersed in playing church music, rhythm and blues, and jazz.

He played the violin and French horn as a Gahanna student, developing his jazz piano skills while studying with Columbus jazz musician Mark Flugge as a high school student, according to Shellhammer.

Since earning his bachelor's degree in jazz studies at Ohio State University, Mason has been teaching in private lessons, working as a teaching assistant with the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus and leading worship weekly at Flintridge Community Church.

The Robert Mason trio recently released its first CD, "State of Soul," a blend of jazz and soulful sounds.

He can be found playing at venues such as Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival, the Columbus Jazz & Ribs Fest, the Lincoln Theatre and Natalie's Music Hall & Kitchen with fo/mo/deep, Soul Revival, Renee Dion, the Pocketbooks, Kinfolk and Blue Water Kings.

Barthel picked up his first pair of drum sticks at age 2 and has been playing drums ever since, Shellhammer said.

He played in both the Middle School West jazz band and Lincoln's Jazz Band I, and continued his education at Ohio State where he studied jazz with Jim Rupp.

Since graduating from the university in 2018, Barthel has worked with such musicians as Dave Powers, Anthony Stanco, Dwight Adams, Pete Mills, Bobby Floyd, Shawn Wallace, Honey and Blue and Christian Howes.

He is a member of the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Todd Stoll, and recently began playing bass guitar, performing with local funk group, Mojoflo, and Tony McClung's Miles Davis Sanctuary Project.

The trio will present a clinic open to all jazz band students at the high school on Monday, March 16.

Shellhammer said the jazz bands are able to host guest artists thanks to the support of the Gahanna Lincoln Instrumental Music Boosters and the school district's board of education.

The jazz bands will conclude the 2019-20 season at 7:30 p.m. May 1 in the Lincoln High School cafeteria by presenting a casual evening of jazz featuring the class of 2020. The event is free and open to the public, but a donation to Gahanna Residents in Need is encouraged.

The All-District Jazz Festival began in 1994 as a way to feature all five of the district's jazz bands and added a guest artist the following year.