April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and the Cazenovia High School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Kathleen DiNardo, plans to celebrate in style by presenting its 11th Annual Jazz Night at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the high school auditorium. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will feature Big Band jazz and a guest performance by baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan. In addition to joining students on stage during the evening concert, the award-winning Smulyan will spend the day with the jazz ensemble musicians. Smulyan is a four-time winner of the DownBeat Critics and Readers Polls and a multiple winner of numerous other official polls, including the Jazz Journalists Award for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year. He is a six-time GRAMMY award winner for his work with B.B. King, Lovano, Holland and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Smulyan started his music career by learning to play the alto saxophone as a teenager on Long Island. While still in high school, he had the chance to sit in with major jazz artists, including legendary trumpeter Chet Baker, saxophonist Lee Konitz, trombonist Jimmy Knepper and violinist Ray Nance. After graduating high school, he attended the State University of New York at Potsdam and Hofstra University before joining Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd in 1978. It was a remarkable collection of young musicians who ultimately would find themselves in the forefront of present-day jazz. Joining Smulyan in the band were saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer John Riley, who would eventually become a fixture in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. In 1980, Smulyan moved to New York City, where he became part of the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, then under the direction of Bob Brookmeyer. Smulyan also found work with other important large ensembles, including the Mingus Big Band and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Smulyan eventually was asked to share the stage and recording studio with a stunning potpourri of luminaries, including trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie; saxophonist Stan Getz; pianist Chick Corea: timbales king Tito Puente; and R&B, blues and soul icons Ray Charles, B.B. King and Diana Ross. Smulyan has recorded several albums of his own, and continues to play with a wide variety of artists, including the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra; Lovano and his nine-piece Nonet; the Dave Holland Octet and the seminal bassist’s Big Band; the cooperative Three Baritone Saxophone Band; powerhouse tenor saxophonist George Coleman in his octet; and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, comprised of some of the world’s best players. Smulyan lives in Amherst, Mass., with his wife, pianist and conductor Joan Cornachio. He is a faculty member of Amherst College and serves as artistic director for the Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Mass., a two-year, post-secondary music school for 18- to 30-year-olds with developmental disabilities. For more information, contact Kathleen DiNardo at (315) 655-1324.