Roland Vazquez, whose innovative jazz-fusion compositions and concerts have earned praise for three decades, will coach and rehearse ensembles and perform with students as part of his residency at the Eastman School of Music this month.
Eastman Chamber Jazz will present a concert of all-Vazquez works on Monday, Feb. 11, and Vazquez will join the Eastman Jazz Ensemble on stage on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Both concerts start at 8 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall and are free and open to the public. Saxophonist and Eastman faculty member Walt Weiskopf, the featured saxophonist on Vazquez’s recent recordings, will be a special guest on both concerts.
Vazquez began working as a drummer with rhythm-and-blues and rock bands soon after high school. After earning his bachelor’s degree in music, be began composing for his first jazz-fusion band, eventually forming the “Urban Ensemble” in 1976. His first international release, Urban Ensemble: The Music of Roland Vazquez, was called “a decade ahead of its time” by Billboard magazine in 1979.
Over the next decade, Vazquez continued to develop his “funky-salsa-bebop” style with compositions for octet, quintet, and big band. During the early 90s, his compositions began evolving toward chamber music, with his 1997 CD Further Dance described as “a brilliant document” by jazz writer Bill Milkowski. In 1999, the Illinois Philharmonic commissioned and premiered his work “Ghost in the Mountain,” a work for string quartet and orchestra reflecting on the life of 20th century Mexican peasant hero Emiliano Zapata.
In 2003, Vazquez received a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts to write, perform, and give educational clinics based around his Afro-Latin suite “Music for Percussion Quartet and Three Jazz Players.” As a performer, Vazquez has appeared throughout the United States and in Europe as well as in the Victoria, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Montreal Jazz Festivals.
Vazquez was a member of the Manhattan School of Music jazz faculty for 10 years, taught at the University of Michigan, and was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. He has received numerous awards, including the Meet the Composer Award and Arts International Award.
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Eastman Chamber Jazz, with guest artist drummer/composer Roland Vazquez and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf; Clay Jenkins, director. Featuring music by Vazquez: “The Day After,” “Dance for Louise,” “Creencias,” “Las Mediosas,” “No Rest for the Bones of the Dead,” and other works.
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.
Eastman Jazz Ensemble, with guest artist drummer/composer Roland Vazquez and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf; Bill Dobbins, director. Music by Vazquez, Dobbins, Ellington, and others.
Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St.