ROCHESTER, NY ― There’s a flurry of jazz coming to Gibbs Street in mid-November. Three outstanding ― and free ― performances by the Eastman School of Music’s award-winning jazz ensembles and some exciting guest artists are sure to keep things “heated up” inside while the temperatures drop outside. All concerts will take place in Kilbourn Hall, located at 26 Gibbs Street in Rochester, off the Main Hall of the Eastman School.
Eastman Jazz Lab Band / Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra
Thursday, November 11 • 8 p.m.
The jazz begins with a joint concert featuring the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, directed by Howard Potter, and the Jazz Lab Band, directed by Clarence Hines and Russell Scarbrough. The EYJO, an all-star ensemble featuring students from the Eastman Community Music School, will spotlight the music of Duke Ellington. The Jazz Lab Band is made up of the rising stars of the Eastman School and affords an opportunity to hear the newest members of the Gibbs Street jazz scene.
Hines and Scarbrough, both doctoral students from the jazz department, also will conduct their own new works commissioned by The Commission Project, an organization that commissions original compositions and sponsors composer-in-residence programs for collaborating schools.
Monday, November 15 • 8 p.m.
Saxophone enthusiasts and fans of chamber jazz won’t want to miss Saxology, Eastman’s powerhouse jazz saxophone ensemble. This award-winning group boasts six of the Eastman School’s top jazz saxophonists, and will feature professors Ramon Ricker and Walt Weiskopf as composers and soloists. The program will consist of works written specifically for Saxology, from such noted composers as Bob Mintzer, Jim McNeely, Oliver Nelson, Wayne Shorter, and Clare Fischer, as well as Ricker and Weiskopf.
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 11 acclaimed CDs. 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.
Ricker is senior associate dean for professional studies, director of the Institute for Music Leadership, and professor of saxophone at the Eastman School. In 1973 he won a position in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as a member of the clarinet section, and continues to play in the orchestra today. He frequently performs as a guest saxophone and clarinet soloist and clinician in high schools and colleges throughout Europe and North America. As a composer and arranger he has been honored by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer and ASCAP. His arrangements have been commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic, and the American, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and North Carolina Symphonies.
Eastman New Jazz Ensemble
Thursday, November 18 • 8 p.m.
The acclaimed Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dave Rivello, delivers the most exciting contemporary big band jazz. Joining the ensemble for this concert will be Eastman alumnus and bassist David Finck, who will spend several days in residence at his alma mater working with jazz students.
Since graduating from Eastman in 1980, Finck has anchored projects ranging from jazz to popular music to Broadway and classical music performance. After leaving Eastman he joined the Woody Herman Big Band, with which he spent a year on the road, subsequently working also with Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, James Moody, Clark Terry and Lee Konitz. He also has toured widely with Paquito D’Rivera’s Havana-New York Ensemble, performed and recorded extensively with Steve Kuhn, and worked with Sir Andre Prévin on an acclaimed pair of duo recordings. His recording credits as a pop session musician are prodigious and include albums with Carly Simon, George Michael, Natalie Cole, and Rod Stewart.