Renowned artist returns to lead the Eastman Jazz Ensemble

April 12, 2002

More Information:
Eastman Office of Communications, 585-274-1050

ROCHESTER, NY — After eight years abroad, an esteemed member of the Eastman School of Music jazz faculty is coming “home.”

William (Bill) Dobbins — who served on the Eastman faculty from 1973-1994, designed (with Rayburn Wright) the School’s master’s program in jazz studies, and chaired Eastman’s jazz department from 1989 until his departure — is returning to the School as professor of jazz studies and contemporary media, effective July 1, 2002. He will direct the award-winning Eastman Jazz Ensemble and the Eastman Studio Orchestra.

A versatile and acclaimed conductor, composer, arranger, performer, and educator, Dobbins currently heads the department of jazz and popular music at the Cologne Musical Academy (Hochschule für Musik Köln) in Cologne, Germany — where he moved in 1994 to become the principal director of that city’s 18-member WDR Big Band, one of world’s premier jazz ensembles. Since then, he has directed nearly 50 projects with that ensemble, featuring internationally known jazz soloists such as Clark Terry, Benny Golson, Kenny Wheeler, Phil Woods, Paquito D’Rivera, Peter Erskine, and many others. In addition, Dobbins has served as guest director of the NDR Big Band (Hamburg), the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra (Hilversum), Klüvers Big Band (Aarhus, Denmark), and the RTE Concert Orchestra (Dublin). Although his home base now will be back in the U.S., Dobbins will regularly return to guest conduct the WDR Big Band and the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra.

While in Europe, Dobbins has continued to perform as a solo pianist, freelance jazz musician, and as a member of the Bill Dobbins/Rolf Römer Quartet — which was formed in 1999 for a special recording project for Deutsche Welle in Cologne called A Tribute to B.A.C.H. (This recording was so well received that the quartet performed more than 20 concerts throughout Germany during the 2000 Bach celebration.) Dobbins also has presented workshops in many of Europe’s leading jazz institutions.

His exceptionally broad musical background includes performances as pianist with symphony orchestras under the direction of Pierre Boulez, Lukas Foss, Louis Lane and Frederick Fennell, as well as performing and recording with numerous jazz artists.

Throughout his career, Dobbins has been the recipient of numerous commissions, awards, and honors — including three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition, his books on keyboard improvisation, jazz arranging and composing, and other published works are used by music students and professionals worldwide. He currently is working on two new books: an analytical work on the music of Duke Ellington, and a textbook on big band arranging. Both will be published upon completion by Advance Music, one of the world’s most established publishers of jazz materials, and the publisher of Dobbins’ music and texts since 1986. His most recent recordings include Preludes and Predilections, Volumes 1 – 4 (Advance Music), the Bill Dobbins/Rolf Römer Quartet, A Tribute to Bach (Edition Collage), Prism (Advance), and Pussycat Dues with jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany (Enja).

On his returning to Eastman, Dobbins said, “I look forward with great enthusiasm to rejoining this uniquely creative community and to continuing my contribution to the maintenance and further development of the high level of musical performance and academic achievement for which the Eastman School has become so well known throughout the world.”