ROCHESTER, NY — The Eastman School of Music is welcoming spring with a double header of residencies by award-winning jazz artists Bob Brookmeyer and Bill Cunliffe. Both artists will be featured in upcoming concerts this month with Eastman’s jazz faculty and students. All concerts, detailed below, are free and open to the public.
Bob Brookmeyer (March 17-19):
Renowned trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer — hailed as “the world’s leading player” of the trombone by Jazz Times — will spend three days (March 17-19) in residence at the Eastman School working closely with jazz students and faculty. He will be featured in an intimate chamber jazz concert with performers from Eastman and the Dave Rivello Ensemble at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 17, in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.). His visit will culminate in another concert at 8 p.m., Friday, March 19, in Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) with the Eastman Studio Orchestra, conducted by Bill Dobbins. The program includes a new work by Eastman student Russell Scarbrough; some jazz standards with Brookmeyer on trombone; and a Brookmeyer work for string quartet and jazz orchestra.
Recognized for his virtuosity as a composer, performer, arranger, conductor, and teacher in both the United States and Europe, Brookmeyer has performed with jazz greats such as Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Woody Herman, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, and Charles Mingus, among others. Currently on the faculty of the New England Conservatory, Brookmeyer is the music director for the award-winning New Art Orchestra, a jazz-based ensemble dedicated to new music.
Bill Cunliffe (March 22-24):
Grammy-nominated composer, arranger, and jazz pianist Bill Cunliffe — “a world class artist with a distinct voice of his own” according to the Los Angeles Times — returns to his alma mater for a brief residency this month as well, and will perform with the Eastman Jazz Lab Band (conducted by Eastman students Brian VanArsdale and Clarence Hines) and the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra (conducted by Howard Potter, director of community education at Eastman). The free concert at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, in Kilbourn Hall features three premieres: one by Cunliffe; one by Eastman doctoral student and Down Beat award winner Eric Schmitz; and one by Youth Jazz Orchestra pianist/composer Chris Ziemba. The new works are made possible by The Commission Project, an organization that commissions original compositions and sponsors composer-in-residence programs for collaborating schools.
Cunliffe, who received his master’s degree from Eastman in 1981, is becoming one of today’s best known jazz pianists. He has recorded three solo albums, all of which received recognition in nationwide jazz polls. After touring with the Buddy Rich Big Band and working with Frank Sinatra, Cunliffe went on to perform extensively with many of today’s top jazz musicians. Recently returning from a tour with vocalist Natalie Cole, he currently records with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz at the Movies Band, the Thelonious Monk Jazz Ambassadors, and flutist Holly Hofmann.
Note: Brookmeyer also will perform with the Dave Rivello Ensemble at the Montage Grill (50 Chestnut St.) on Monday, March 15, from 9 p.m.-midnight. A $5 donation is suggested.