Jazz for the Holidays

presented by Walton Arts Center and the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society

DATE: Saturday, Dec. 12, 7pm

LOCATION: Walton Arts Center

TICKETS: Starting at $15

ON SALE: Friday, Nov. 20 @ 10am

BUY TICKETS 2020-12-12 19:00:00 2020-12-12 21:00:00 America/Chicago Jazz for the Holidays Jazz for the Holidays Baum Walker Hall

We've made special policies to keep our audiences and artists safe during this pandemic.



There’s no other style of music that sounds more like the holidays than jazz. From Vince Guaraldi Trio to Frank Sinatra, our favorite seasonal tunes call forth traditional jazz instrumentation, jubilant scatting and smooth sounds reminiscent of days past. Join us to celebrate these sounds of the season when we welcome some of the top jazz artists in Northwest Arkansas to the Walton Arts Center stage. Featuring three unique ensembles, including the Claudia Burson Quartet, Holiday on the Beach and Lighthouse Saxophone Quartet, Jazz for the Holidays will bring you hope, joy and merriment – after all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.


Claudia's mastery of the piano is punctuated by her gutsy style and charisma. She is among the rare artists who has risen above technique to deliver her music from a place deep within. Stylistically, she is equally at home with jazz standards and ballads as she is with free improvisation.

Burson was raised in Fayetteville. Her interest in music was sparked when she began playing piano at age 8. At age 12, she met a player in her uncle's band who introduced her to jazz. Burson studied classical piano at the University of Arkansas and began performing in venues near the campus in. In 1976, Claudia enrolled at Berklee School of Music in Boston, followed by a fruitful period of performance in Houston, Texas, where she met and played with such artists as Lionel Hampton, Charlie Rouse, Arnett Cobb, Joe Henderson and others.

Since returning to Fayetteville in late 1990s, Burson has been an in-demand performer. She has anchored the house rhythm section for the North Arkansas Jazz Societies’ Summer Jazz Concert Series; has been the featured artist at the Tulsa Oklahoma Women in Jazz Festival; has performed on the Walton Arts Center Jazz Series and is the featured pianist with the 17-piece jazz big band, the Fayetteville Jazz Collective.

Joining Claudia are long-time collaborators; Ben Harris-guitar, Benji Wilson-bass and Steve Wilkes-drums.


Holiday on the Beach is a quintet of Northwest Arkansas musicians lead by trombonist/drummer/singer Matt Beach. The group has been inspired by the music of New Orleans, infusing a selection of holiday and seasonal music with the spirit of the Big Easy. The quintet features Matthew Beach-trombone/vocals, Grant D'Aubin-bass, Drew Rogers-guitar, Darren Novotny-drums and Adam Becker-piano.

Matt Beach is a native of New Orleans with a deep passion for its musical traditions. After moving to Fayetteville to pursue his education, Matthew began to search for opportunities to play, dabbling in a variety of genres including pop, classical, salsa, jazz and funk. Beach formed a group called Crescent City Combo with his long-time friend and trumpeter Jeff Gray. Making music with friends and sharing in the live music experience is one his greatest joys. In addition to studio work and directing the NWA Jazz Youth Ensemble, Matthew also plays with 1 oz. Jig, Crescent City Combo, Forte Quintet and the Fayetteville Jazz Collective.


Comprising four of Northwest Arkansas' finest concert and jazz saxophonists, the Lighthouse Saxophone Quartet performs exciting new interpretations of popular songs and classical standards. For their holiday performance, the quartet will include selections from The Nutcracker and an assortment of holiday tunes, including “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

Michael Hanna leads the group on soprano & alto saxophones along with Landon Cole- alto, Austin Farnam-tenor and Samantha Canon- baritone.

Hanna holds a Master of Music in saxophone performance from Central Michigan University. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in saxophone performance from the University of Arkansas in 2016, and has performed with the Fort Smith Symphony, the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, the Tulsa Symphony, the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra and the Fayetteville Jazz Collective. He performed with the Arkansas Saxophones at two World Saxophone Congresses in St. Andrews and Strasbourg. An eclectic performer, Michael is also frequently heard in restaurants, hotels, festivals and other venues in the Northwest Arkansas area. In 2015, Michael assisted in the production of a historical documentary about the Arkansan territory bandleader Alphonso Trent, transcribing and orchestrating works from his recorded legacy, and performing on the soundtrack.