By AMY GEORGE
The Department of Music is preparing for its 48th annual Jazz Seminar and Concert, hosted by the Jazz Studies Program and coordinated by award-winning drummer, composer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington.
The week-long event will run Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, featuring free presentations by internationally recognized jazz legends and culminating in a concert at Carnegie Music Hall. Since its founding in 1970 by the late Nathan Davis, Pitt’s Jazz Week has brought countless musicians to campus to interact with students, give lectures and perform in concert.
Davis, who created the Jazz Program in 1969, desired to “appreciate the jazz scholars, composers and musicians who have inspired others with their work,” recalled Frank Hammond Jr., Jazz Studies program assistant.
This year’s event will feature guest artists JD Allen, saxophone; Andy Bey, vocals; Joey DeFrancesco, organ; Orrin Evans, piano; Billy Hart, drums; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Sean Jones, trumpet; Tineke Postma, saxophone; Reginald Veal, bass; and Mark Whitfield, guitar.
The program kicks off Oct. 29 with a free noon performance by the 22-piece, student-based Pitt Jazz Ensemble in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge. Presentations, which will explore the historical and contemporary jazz climate, fill the next four days along with an open jam session and community outreach. The seminar closes with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in Carnegie Music Hall. Tickets are available in advance and at the door.
The Jazz Seminar and Concert follows a rich history. Created during the 1960s, in the midst of an era of cultural activism and social change, Davis’ jazz program was one of America’s first three university-level institutes to study and celebrate the art form.
“Dr. Davis created Pitt’s Jazz Studies Program with a vision,” Hammond said. He wanted “an academy where jazz musicians and students could come together to write their histories and situate their work within the legacy of Black American art.”
When Davis retired as director and nationally recognized pianist and composer Geri Allen took over in 2014, she strove to uphold Pitt Jazz’s legacy of diversity, innovation and great music.
Although Allen died from cancer in June 2017, her teachings added to this legacy, and her memory was honored at last year’s event. The Jazz Studies Program has not appointed its next director yet, but continues to look to the future with optimism.
“Dr. Davis started the Jazz Seminar to bring world-renowned musicians to campus to talk to students. And we will continue to do exactly that,” Hammond said.
Amy George is a sophomore English Literature student and a contributing writer for the University Times.