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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The 49th Loyola Jazz Festival begins Friday with performances and clinics for students from 33 middle school, high school and college ensembles. It's Louisiana's oldest educational jazz festival, according to Loyola University of New Orleans.

"This is the largest the festival has ever been, with 33 ensembles coming from all four corners of the U.S.," said Gordon L. Towell, a saxophone player and head of jazz studies in Loyola's College of Music and Media. "This is the next generation talent of jazz being mentored by New Orleans musicians and other nationally recognized performers."

Most of the bands are from high schools, with two each from colleges and middle schools and one from a community college. Twenty-four of the bands are from Louisiana, three from Alabama and two each from Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Some schools will be bringing two ensembles.

The student groups perform before judges every half-hour, starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

At 4:30 p.m. Friday, there's a free concert by the Loyola Faculty Jazz Septet, with a ticketed concert at the same time Saturday by bassist, band leader and arranger John Clayton.

The students also can attend free master classes Friday and Saturday by jazz trumpet great Scott Wendholt of the Manhattan School of Music, saxophonist and Loyola instructor Khari Allen-Lee, trombonist and composter Jennifer Kellogg and New York-based jazz drummer Jason Tiemann, together with Loyola jazz faculty.

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