Jazz 50th Anniversary
Jazz 50th Anniversary CelebrationA full weekend of celebrations is being planned for Fall 2022.
Friday and Saturday, October 28-29, 2022
Concerts @ 7:30 PM nightly
The Lied Center
Friday, October 28
A Tribute to Gary Foster
KU Jazz Ensemble I with Steve Houghton, Paul Haar, Matt Otto, Ron McCurdy, Jeff Harshbarger, Brandon Draper, Steve Leisring, Vince Gnojek, and Alex Frank
Saturday, October 29
KU Jazz Alumni Big Bands and Alumni Jazz Singers
Robert E. Foster, James Barnes, Ronald C. McCurdy and Dan Gailey, directors
Nicholas L. Gerren, Sr. Hall of Achievement Inductees
About Gary Foster
Gary Foster is a graduate of the University of Kansas and now lives in Los Angeles, where he is a freelance musician performing on clarinet, saxophone, and flute. Foster has performed and recorded with jazz groups led by Clare Fischer, Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Cal Tjader, Shelly Manne, Moacir Santos, Poncho Sanchez, Jimmy Rowles, Alan Broadbent, Jimmy Knepper, Mark Masters, Sammy Nestico, Pete Christlieb, Oliver Lake, Putter Smith, Larry Koonse, and Bill Dobbins. He can be heard on albums by Toni Tennille, Barbra Streisand, Mel Torme, Natalie Cole and Frank Sinatra, as well as a number of Rosemary Clooney’s recordings for the Concord Jazz label.
Foster has made additional recordings with Michael Feinstein, Liza Minnelli, Marni Nixon, Diane Schuur, Melissa Manchester, Joao Gilberto, Dr. John, Johnny Mathis, Michel LeGrand, Paul McCartney, Kenny Rogers, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Stevie Wonder, Cristina Aguilera, Michael Boulton, Better Midler, Vanessa Williams, Paul Anka, Prince, Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, Manhattan Transfer, Vince Gill, Diana Krall, Wesla Whitfield, Linda Ronstadt, Robbie Williams, Steve Lawrence, Tierney Sutton, Quincy Jones, Michael Buble, Susan Krebs, Lorraine Feather, Matt Dusk, Frank Sinatra Jr., Andy Williams, Mary Haskell, Debby Boone, Jane Monheit, Renee Oldstead, Madeline Peyroux, Russell Watkins, Leslie Lewis, Thomas Quasthoff, Melody Gardot, Michael Jackson, and Placido Domingo.
Solo jazz recordings include: Kansas City Connections, Subconsciously, and Grand Cru Classe’ (Revelation Records); Imagination and Beautiful friendship (RCA Japan); Warne Marsh meets Gary Foster (Toshiba-EMI) and Starbright and Whose Woods are These? with Clare Fischer on Discovery. Other solo jazz recordings include Make Your Own Fun and Live at Maybeck Hall-Duo with Alan Broadbent on Concord Jazz; the Jazz at the Movies Band recordings (5) on Discovery; Jazz After Midnight on JVC; Body & Soul with Lee Konitz (a tribute to Warne Marsh) on Insights-Japan; The Music of Reed Kotler with Bobby Shew; Mentor and Play it Where it Lays with Kerry Strayer; It’s About Love (Reed Kotler), a quartet with Bill Cunliffe; Perfect Circularity with Putter Smith and What’s in the Box-The Music of Jimmy Wyble with Larry Koonse.
From the late 1960’s to present, Gary has been a member of several hundred live and film television orchestras and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the L.A. Chamber Orchestra, the L.A. Master Chorale, the L.A. Opera Orchestra and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. From its inception in 1973 until 1982, Foster was a member of the award-winning Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band. Gary has also received the Most Valuable Player Award for woodwind doubling from The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. From 1971 to 1991, he was conductor of the jazz ensemble at Pasadena City College; from 1984 through 2000, he was the Millsap visiting professor of saxophone at The University of Missouri at Kansas City; and from 1997 to 2000 Foster was professor of saxophone at UCLA.
Gary has performed on more than five hundred motion picture soundtracks, including Batman and Robin; A Bug’s Life; Analyze This; True Crime; Inspector Gadget; South Park; The Patriot; The Emperor’s New Groove; What Women Want; Pearl Harbor; Monsters, Inc; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; Death to Smoochy; Ice Age; The Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; The Master of Disguise; Blood Work; Far From Heaven; Agent Cody Banks; Ten Ways to Lose a Guy; Chicago; Catch Me if You Can;; Elf; Sideways; and The Princess and the Frog, among many others
Friday, October 28
A Tribute to Gary Foster
KU Jazz Ensemble I with Steve Houghton, Paul Haar, Matt Otto, Ron McCurdy, Jeff Harshbarger, Brandon Draper, Steve Leisring, Vince Gnojek, and Alex Frank
The University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, is the flagship ensemble within the KU Jazz Studies Program. The program has received 29 DownBeatStudent Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2021, 2019 and 2015 awards in the Graduate Division for Best College Big Band in the United States or Canada, and their Outstanding Performance Awards in the same division in 2022 and 2017. Jazz Ensemble I performed Gailey’s flamenco suite “Palos Nuevos” at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in April 2018. In April 2016, the ensemble performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City with internationally acclaimed vocalist Deborah Brown, and the band was one of six international college finalists that performed at the 2019 and 2017 Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival. In April 2022, the band was one of 10 college jazz ensembles invited by Wynton Marsalis to compete in the Rudin Jazz Championship at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, where they were selected as one of 5 finalists for the evening concert.
In July 2018, Jazz Ensemble I played 10 shows in 13 days with Deborah Brown as part of a European tour that included appearances by invitation at three of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals — the Montreux Jazz Festival (where the band performed twice), Umbria Jazz, and the Jazz À Vienne Festival. The ensemble has also been featured at International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in New York City, Boston and Atlanta. Jazz Ensemble I has had the distinction of performing with such noted guest artists as Toshiko Akiyoshi, Clark Terry, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Anat Cohen, Sean Jones, Kneebody, Renee Rosnes, Steve Wilson, Tia Fuller, Dave Douglas, Louie Bellson, Jeff Coffin, Tim Ries, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, Conrad Herwig, Bob Sheppard, Gary Foster, Steve Houghton, Bob Mintzer, Bobby Shew, Carl Fontana, Dick Oatts, Frank Mantooth, Ingrid Jensen, Jon Hendricks, Pete Christlieb and many others.
Internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author, and educator, Steve Houghton initially received acclaim at age twenty as the drummer with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd. Since then he has shared stage and studio with luminaries Freddie Hubbard, Dave Samuels, Dave Stryker, Walter Smith III, Clay Jenkins, Josh Nelson, Harold Land, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bob Florence, Lyle Mays, Bob Sheppard, Billy Childs, Bobby Hutcherson, Pat LaBarbera, Bill Cunliffe, Steve Allee and Joe Henderson, among many others.
Houghton’s recent recordings include: What’s New? – Rusty Burge Group; Tomorrow Is Not Promised – Josh Nelson- Bob Bowman Collective; Hubbub – the Steve Houghton Quartet; and Brother to Brother – AHA Trio. Houghton attributes more than one hundred recordings to his credit as a leader and participating artist. As a classical percussionist, Houghton has performed with the Boston and Philadelphia Pops orchestras, U.S. Army Band, as well as the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He frequently appears as a soloist with numerous orchestras and wind ensembles throughout the world.
As an author, Houghton’s publications boast more than thirty educational books, videos and DVDs including: Drumset 101; Kid’s Drumset Course– books 1 & 2; Essential Styles- books 1 & 2; The Ultimate Drumset Chart Reading Anthology (Alfred); Studio and Big Band Drumming (Barnhouse); The Drumset Soloist (WB); and his latest project, Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (Alfred), a DVD-book series that addresses the entire rhythm section. In addition, he is an important member of the Vic Firth education team, contributing numerous series and lessons to the website.
Houghton is Professor Emeritus of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, having retired in 2020. He continues to maintain an active recording and performing schedule. Houghton is a Past-President of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) a founding member of the Jazz Education Network (JEN) and endorses Yamaha drums and percussion, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth sticks and mallets, and Remo world percussion products and drumheads.
Acclaimed saxophonist Dr. Paul Haar has contributed his notable talent to numerous projects in both the jazz and classical genres and is recognized as being one of the most versatile saxophonists on the scene today. As an active classical musician he has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe performing in such noted venues as Carnegie Hall, Spivey Hall and the Tanglewood Institute. As a soloist he has commissioned and performed featured works by Jack Cooper, Jesse Krebs, Leslie Hogan, Ben Boone, Randal Snyder and has been a featured artist with wind ensembles from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Tennessee and The University of South Carolina. In addition to his solo performances he has performed with such ensembles as The Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship Orchestra, The Arapahoe Philharmonic, The Austin Symphony, The Asheville Symphony and the Omaha Symphony.
In the jazz idiom he has performed with such artists as Dave Brubeck, James Moody, The Manhattan Transfer, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Phil Woods and has backed such personalities as Bob Newhart, The Chiffons, and the Temptations. He has recorded on the Sea Breeze label as a member of the Boulevard Big Band, with saxophonist Eric Marienthal and vocalist Kevin Mahogany and with the Osland Saxophone Quartet. In addition to his solo work, Mr. Haar is active in such groups as The Southwest Horns Jazz-Saxophone ensemble, The Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, The UNL Faculty Jazz Ensemble and Group Sax.
Actively involved as an educator, he has presented featured clinics and master classes at The 31st and 32nd Annual International Association for Jazz Education Conferences, The 59th Annual Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic; The Tennessee, Arizona and Nebraska Music Educators Associations; and numerous meetings of the North American Saxophone Alliance and Jazz Education Network. He has contributed articles to such publications as the Tennessee Musician, The Instrumentalist, Jazz Times, and the Saxophone Journal where was a featured columnist. Recently he was a featured soloist and clinician at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, performing with the conservatory jazz ensemble and as a featured soloist with the Taipei Jazz Orchestra. In the summer of 2013 he was a featured soloist at the Carols Gomes International Festival in Brazil with the Amazonia Jazz Band. In 2014 he was a featured performer at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
A native of Fremont, Nebraska, Mr. Haar received the B.M. and M.M. from The University of Kansas, where he studied with Vincent Gnojek, Dick Wright and Dan Gailey. He received the D.M.A. in Saxophone Performance with an emphasis in Jazz Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. There he studied with renowned saxophonist Harvey Pittel, Jeff Hellmer, and Rich Lawn. Dr. Haar has taught at The University of Kansas, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Tennessee and is currently the Associate Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Matt Otto is currently the Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at The University of Kansas teaching jazz theory and performance, Jazz Combo 1 and private lessons. Matt was also an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick teaching online courses in jazz improvisation, theory and performance.
Matt Otto studied music performance and composition at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, New School Jazz (BFA) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA) during which time he studied under Lee Konitz, George Garzone, Billy Pierce, Charlie Haden, Don Hawkins, Paul Carmen and many others. Having lived in Japan for 5 years, New York City for 7 years and Los Angels for 6 years, he has performed with a variety of artists including Anthony Wilson, Larry Koonse, Ben Monder, Willie Jones III, Alan Ferber, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Gregory Hutchinson, Jonathan Kreisberg, Joe La Barbera, Leroy Vinegar, Paul Jackson, Ari Hoenig, Ben Street, Mike Moreno, Sara Gazarek, Josh Nelson, Peter Schlamb, Danny Weiss, William Parker, Matt Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Bobby Watson, Larry Goldings, Eric Harland, Erik McPherson, and many others. Matt has recorded 15 CDs as a leader as well as having recorded on over 50 CDs as a side man.
Brandon Draper’s extensive professional resume includes performances with both the New Mexico and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestras and the Kansas City Symphony. Draper has performed and/or recorded with Ottmar Liebert, DJ Logic, Donna Summer, Mary Wilson, Mose Allison, Steve Coleman, Dick Oatts, Mike Moreno, Bobby Watson, and Kevin Hays. He toured the U.S. with the live-tronica pioneers Particle and contributed work on their recent album “Accelerator.” In 2010 he performed and contributed to the score of critically acclaimed hip-hop musical "Venice" in Los Angeles.
Draper previously taught at the University of New Mexico, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Johnson County Community College, led master-classes at the PAS Day of Percussion in many states, and performed at P.A.S.I.C. multiple times. He has led workshops at Music Educators Association conferences in many states as well. With the Turkish-Jazz group Alaturka, Draper recorded, co-mixed and performed on the 2013 release Yalniz (4.5 Stars - Best albums of 2013 - Downbeat Magazine). He is the founder of the acclaimed children's interactive music program Drum Safari that has served children and families throughout the US since 2005.
Draper is Associate Professor of the Practice in Jazz and Percussion at the University of Kansas and is the director of Music Enterprise certificate combining music business and entrepreneurship. He holds a Bachelor degree in percussion performance from Bethany College, and a Masters of Music (cum laude) from the University of New Mexico. Brandon endorses Zildjian, Vic Firth, Meinl, and Audix Microphones.
Bassist/vocalist/composer Jeff Harshbarger has collaborated with visual artists (Nick Cave, David Ford, Molly Murphy) and musicians (Bobby Watson, Francois Rabbath, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, David Balakrishnan, Darol Anger, Eugene Chadbourne, Jimmy Karl Black, Krystle Warren) to produce work that challenges convention. He curates a twice-monthly concert series that promotes original composition, and hosts "Jazz in the Afternoon" on KKFI. A lecturer in Jazz Studies at The University of Kansas, Harshbarger is the recipient of fellowships from the Charlotte Street Foundation, The Kennedy Center, and The Steans’ Institute.
For nearly two decades, Steve Leisring has been professor of trumpet at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Steve has performed and taught in 20 countries, been an orchestral musician and soloist in Europe, Asia and USA, and has performed as soloist with University of Kansas Downbeat Award-Winning Jazz Ensemble 1 in the Kennedy Center, as well as Montreux, Vienne, and Umbria Jazz Festivals in Europe. His former students occupy professional positions on three continents, as principals in two national orchestras, military bands, orchestras, as professors of trumpet in Europe, Asia, and the US, and others have gone on to producing and other musical careers.
He can be heard on more than 30 recordings on multiple labels, and has played as a guest with the Dallas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Diego, Charleston Symphony orchestras in the USA, guest with the National Orchestra of Spain and Madrid Chamber orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony from Sweden, and Guest Principal with the Tokyo Symphony in Japan and Tianjin, Shenzhen and Harbin Symphonies in China. He has been guest soloist with the Sichuan and Harbin Symphonies in China and Maryland Symphony in the USA. He is a Bach Conn/Selmer Artist.
Vince Gnojek is emeritus professor of saxophone at the University of Kansas, where he taught a studio of 20-25 saxophonists and four saxophone quartets for 34 years until he retired in 2022. His top Saxophone Quartet was awarded the Best Classical Chamber Music Group throughout the United States and Canada by DownBeat magazine’s Student Music Awards Competition on five different occasions.
As a performer of both classical and jazz styles on all of the saxophones, Gnojek has performed in almost every conceivable musical setting. As a classical saxophone soloist he has appeared with orchestras and wind ensembles, and has been a solo recitalist in Singapore, Mexico, Costa Rica, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and throughout the United States. As a jazz soloist he has been featured with the University of Kansas Jazz Ensemble I on several occasions, including a tour in Switzerland (The Montreux Jazz Festival) and Germany. He has performed in forty-two states and in Mexico, Canada, Portugal, and Thailand as the alto saxophonist with the highly acclaimed Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet. As the saxophonist with the Kansas Woodwinds, a faculty chamber music ensemble in residence at the University of Kansas, he has performed regionally and at national conferences in Washington D.C., Chicago and Kansas City. Gnojek has also been a member of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. In 2007 he was the recipient of the 12th Annual Phoenix Award for outstanding artistic achievement in Performing Arts presented by the Lawrence Arts Commission.
A versatile musician, Gnojek has been a freelance musician in New York, Denver and Kansas City, and has appeared with a variety of artists and entertainers. In addition to his first solo recording, CROSSINGS, he is the featured soloist on John Mackey’s Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Wind Ensemble with the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble on its compact disc WILD NIGHTS! on the NAXOS label, released in April 2009. He has also recorded on Mark Custom Recording with the Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet, on the ECM label as a member of Steve Reich's Contemporary Music Ensemble, on the Sea Breeze label as the lead alto saxophonist with the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band, and as the alto saxophonist with the Kansas Woodwinds.
Alex Frank is a guitarist and composer living in Kansas City, holding a Master’s Degree in Jazz Composition from the University of Kansas, where he currently teaches the Jazz Guitar studio. In the summer of 2021 and 2022, he toured Germany and France with renowned French composer/saxophonist Pierre Bertrand and his jazz orchestra as part of the "Classical Beat Festival" held annually in Lubeck, Germany. Currently working on a collection of music for his quartet, Alex will be releasing his debut record of original music in the spring of 2023. You can find the Alex Frank Trio holding down a weekly Saturday night spot at the Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City, playing all of his original compositions.
Bob McWilliams, who earned his B.A. and M.A. in history at the University of Kansas and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, far prefers radio to law.He has hosted jazz programs on KANU and KPR since 1983, and became jazz director and Jazz in the Night’s host in 1996. He also did graduate work in jazz history with the late Dick Wright. He co-hosted the Flint Hills Special for many years, and has produced and hosted Trail Mix since it began in 1994. Bob is also active in teaching U.S. History at Johnson County Community College and is a passionate St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan and Kansas Jayhawks basketball fan. Somehow, he also finds time to be an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, and indulges his news habit with three daily newspapers and numerous magazines. Bob also founded the non-profit West Side Folk concert series in Lawrence.
Saturday, October 29
KU Jazz Alumni Big Bands and Alumni Jazz Singers
Robert E. Foster, James Barnes, Ronald C. McCurdy and Dan Gailey, directors Nicholas L. Gerren, Sr. Hall of Achievement Inductees
Robert E. Foster (1972-76)
Robert E. Foster, Professor Emeritus of Music Education and Music Therapy at the University of Kansas, served as Director of Bands for 31 years beginning in 1971. He was also the conductor and musical director of the award winning Lawrence City Band. His KU Symphonic Band performed at numerous national and regional conventions, including performances and clinics for Music Educators National Conference, the American Bandmasters Association, College Band Directors National Association, and others. He continues an active career as a guest conductor, adjudicator, author, composer, arranger, and editor, and has conducted or adjudicated in 37 different states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Singapore, and throughout Europe. Foster is President of the John Philip Sousa Foundation, and is former President of the American Bandmasters Association, the National Band Association, the Southwest Division of the College Band Directors National Association, and the Big Twelve Conference Band Directors Association. He also served as Chairman of the North American Band Directors Coordinating Committee.
James Barnes (1976-79)
Professor Emeritus James Barnes taught music composition, orchestration, arranging and wind band history/repertoire courses at The University of Kansas. At KU, he served as Staff Arranger, Assistant, and later, Associate Director of Bands for twenty-seven years. Barnes served as Division Director for Music Theory and Composition for ten years. In spring 2015, he completed his fortieth year of teaching at KU. His numerous publications for concert band and orchestra are extensively performed around the world. His works (including seven symphonies and three concertos) have been performed at such venues as Tanglewood, Boston Symphony Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow and Tokyo Metropolitan Concert Hall.
Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy (1979-1990)
Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy is Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Professor of Music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California (USC) where he served as chair of the jazz department for six years (2002- 2008). Prior to his appointment at USC he served as Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC (1999-2001). He has served as Professor of Music and chair of the Afro-African American Studies Department and served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota (1990-1999). In 1997, Dr. McCurdy served as Visiting Professor at Maria-Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland. In 2001 Dr. McCurdy received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Kansas. Dr. McCurdy received his undergraduate degree from Florida A & M University and his Masters and Ph. D. degrees from the University of Kansas.
Dan Gailey (1990-present)
Dan Gailey is the Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Music at the University of Kansas, where he directs Jazz Ensemble I and teaches courses in jazz composition, arranging and pedagogy. He was named to a coveted Chancellor’s Club Teaching Professorship at KU in 2017. Dan is the recipient of the 1996 IAJE Gil Evans Fellowship, presented to an emerging jazz composer from an international field of candidates. Under his direction, the KU Jazz Studies Program has been the recipient of 29 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including Jazz Ensemble I’s 2021 award for Best College Jazz Ensemble in the Graduate Division and their 2022 Outstanding Performance Award in the same category.
Dean Robert Walzel, emcee
Since 2010, Robert Walzel has served as the founding dean of the KU School of Music.
Performing extensively in virtually every medium featuring clarinet and saxophone, he has been featured at music festivals and other venues throughout the United States and around the world. Selected by the United States Information Agency as an Artistic Ambassador, Walzel has performed in 20 countries and presented master classes and lectures at several of the world’s leading music schools.
A proponent of jazz, and other culturally influenced music, Walzel has premiered and recorded several new works written for him. He is featured on multiple recording labels including Albany, Navona, Con Fuoco Digital, and Mark Records. Active as a soloist and chamber musician, Walzel’s appearances have included those with such groups as the Santa Fe Pro Musica, Dallas String Quartet, Texas Clarinet Consort, Intermezzo, Kansas Virtuosi,Clear Lake Chamber Music Society, and Society for the Performing Arts in Houston.
The University of Kansas School of Music acknowledges its history of participation in the systemic exclusion and marginalization of under-represented communities of people in our society. The Nicholas L. Gerren, Sr. Hall ofAchievement is one attempt to begin redressing these offenses. The purpose of this hall is to honor the life and career of alumni, faculty, and staff from the KU School of Music who, despite exclusion and marginalization, made a positive impact in the field of music. In October of 2022, we will induct four new members into the Hall of Achievement.
Nathan Davis (1937-2018) was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and earned a BM in Music Education (1960) from the University of Kansas, an MM and Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the Sorbonne (1968) and Wesleyan University (1974). He spent most of the 1960s in Paris as a multi-instrumentalist and played with jazz luminaries, performing on more than 20 albums as a sideman and leader. He returned to the United States in 1969 and founded the jazz program at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969, one of the first in the country. He composed over 200 works, including Jazzopera Up Above My Head.
Walter Page (1900-1957) was born in Gallatin, Missouri, and completed the three-year music teacher training program at KU (ca. 1920) [RS1] in one year. In 1925 he founded Walter Page and his Blue Devils, later joining Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, which created the distinctive style of Kansas City jazz. Count Basie took over the organization in 1935. The bassist was the key member of Basie’s “All American Rhythm section,” and is credited with making the bass a melodic instrument, as well as developing and popularizing the walking bass style that was a crucial element in the development of swing jazz.
Carmell Jones (1936-1996) was born in Kanas City, Kansas. After service in the Air Force he used the G.I. Bill to enroll at University of Kansas (music education trumpet, 1958-1960). He later moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and played trumpet as studio musician for films and regarded as one of the best trumpeters of early 1960s West Coast scene. He moved to Berlin in 1968, where he played with the Radio Free Berlin Big Band Orchestra. He was active as a sideman in both the United States and Europe. His albums include Jay Hawk Talk by his eponymous quartet.
Ron McCurdy was born in Belle Grave, Florida. He earned a BS in Music Education from Florida A&M (1976), and an MM (1978) and Ph.D. (1983) in Music Education from the University of Kansas. While still a doctoral student he was appointed the first KU Director of Jazz Studies (1983); under his tenure the program gained national and international acclaim. He later served as the Director of Jazz Studies at University of Minnesota, the Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (1999-2001) and is currently a professor at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
Sponsors include Reach Out Kansas, Inc., and the Zakoura Family Fund, a fund of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.