ROCHESTER, NY — Jazz bursts on the scene this month at the Eastman School of Music with three special performances in one week, showcasing the talents of Eastman’s jazz faculty, students, and guest artists.
Eastman Faculty Jazz Quartet with guest Walt Weiskopf
The School’s jazz season opens with a concert by the Eastman Faculty Jazz Quartet at 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 15, in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.). The quartet — featuring pianist Harold Danko, bassist Jeff Campbell, drummer Rich Thompson, and trumpeter Clay Jenkins — will be joined by guest tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf in a concert featuring Weiskopf’s own compositions and other jazz selections. Admission is $5 at the door only (free to University or Rochester faculty, staff, and students).
Called “one of the great composers and performers of modern jazz” by L.A. Jazz Scene and
“a contemporary cooker” by Jazz Times, Weiskopf is currently teaching part-time at Eastman, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1980. Since then, he has built a versatile career — joining the Buddy Rich Big Band at the age of 21, the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra three years later, forming his own quartet with brother/pianist Joel, and recording nine acclaimed CDs. (His latest, Man of Many Colors, features pianist Brad Mehldau, bass virtuoso John Patitucci, and drummer Clarence Penn.) Throughout his career, Weiskopf has performed with many of the most interesting and diverse names in jazz including drummer/ composer Roland Vazquez, pianist Renee Rosnes, drummer Pete Sims, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.
Jazz Department Student Showcase
Not to be outdone by their faculty mentors, Eastman’s award-winning jazz students will “strut their stuff” in a big season debut just days later: a departmental showcase concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, October 19, in Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.). This free concert includes performances by seven small student groups (all part of Eastman’s innovative Jazz Performance Workshops) and three large ensembles (Eastman Jazz Ensemble, New Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Lab Band — all conducted by students.) Throughout the evening, the students will perform an exciting mix of original music along with jazz classics. “Showcasing the entire jazz student body seemed like a great way to start the year,” said Harold Danko, chair of the jazz department and one of the organizers of the concert. “We are proud to have all of this music in one place, and hope that the public comes out to hear all of the talented players.”
James Carney Trio
A week of jazz comes to a close with a visit from the acclaimed jazz pianist and composer James Carney, who will be in residence at Eastman on October 22 and 23. Carney — whose originality and artistry have been praised by The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Musician, Billboard, and Jazz Times, among others — will work with students in Eastman’s Jazz Performance Workshops during his residency. His trio, which includes bassist Dan Lutz and drummer Dan Morris, will perform at 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 22, in the Little Theatre Café (240 East Ave.). The trio then will give a presentation about its music at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 23, in Room 120 of the Eastman School. Both events are free and open to the public.
Carney, whose visit to Rochester is co-sponsored by the Bop Shop and the Little Theatre, has quickly gained a reputation for being creative and original. He is the recipient of the 1999 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Award, a 2000 California Arts Council fellowship in composition, and an American Composers Forum grant in 2001. In addition, he recently was honored as the “Best Jazz Artist of 2002” at the LA Weekly Music Awards. He has toured and recorded with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and many other artists. His latest recording, Thread, was released in August. It brings an avant/world-influenced/ post-jazz sensibility to the trio format, displaying influences from eastern Indian, Appalachian, rock, gospel, classical, and New Orleans music.
Note to editors: Photos of the Eastman Faculty Jazz Quartet, Walt Weiskopf, and James Carney are available.