New music by students from Juilliard, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers and MSM, for Jazz Appreciation Month
Duke Ellington Ensemble, "Work"
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, Juilliard Jazz serves 50 instrumental and vocal students in undergraduate and graduate programs, under the direction of Juilliard alums Wynton Marsalis (director) and Aaron Flagg (chair and associate director). Each of Juilliard Jazz’s small ensembles is named after a jazz legend. This does not mean the ensemble solely performs the works of that artist, though, as ensemble coaches incorporate important aspects of all artists’ work into their teaching. The Duke Ellington Ensemble, coached by Ben Wolfe, is featured this week as part of our Jazz Appreciation Month Celebration performing Thelonious Monk's "Work." Players are Francesco Cafiso, alto saxophone; Chris Lewis, tenor saxophone; James Zito, guitar; Joel Wenhardt, piano; Raul Reyes, bass; and John Sturino, drums.
Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, "Yo Traigo Bomba"
Here's another ensemble from Juilliard Jazz, captured in a recent performance at Juilliard's Sharp Theater: the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Jose Madera, tackles Tito Puente's "Yo Traigo Bomba." The vocalist is Mar Vilaseca, from the 2022 Masters of Music class.
Dayna Stephens Ensemble, "Truth to Power"
The Manhattan School of Music's Jazz Ambassadors this season are the Dayna Stephens Ensemble. Led by its namesake tenor saxophonist, it recently performed at MSM's Orto Center for Distance Learning and Recording Arts. From that performance, WBGO is featuring the original composition "Truth to Power." In addition to Stephens, ensemble members include Yuko Kawasaki, vocals; Nicola Caminiti, alto saxophone; Remee Ashlee, trombone; Tommaso Perazzo, piano; Rafael Enciso, bass; and Quinten Cain, drums.
University Jazz Ensemble, "Blues For the Viet Cong"
At Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, the University Jazz Ensemble is directed by professor Conrad Herwig. An esteemed colleague at the university, legendary pianist Stanley Cowell, died at age 79 in December 2020. The Ensemble honored Cowell with a concert of some of his greatest compositions. Guest artist faculty member Bill O’Connell arranged the pieces and is featured on piano on Cowell’s “Blues for the Viet Cong.”
SUNY Purchase John Lang Ensemble, "Scuttle the Muttle"
We often forget that experienced jazz musicians can become students once again, returning for advanced degrees midway through their careers. Bassist John Lang is an inspiration for those desiring to further their musical chops and composition skills. Just on the heels of his pursuit of a Masters in Jazz Performance at SUNY Purchase, John had recruited the help of John Patitucci to produce his 2020 recording Now Ear This, and the stars of his next recording are his more recent inspirations — many of those on faculty at Purchase, including Bruce Harris, Gary Smulyan and John Mosca. The recording will feature material written for John's composition and arranging classes under Ingrid Jensen and Andy Farber. "Scuttle the Muttle" is an original composition, with David Smith on trumpet, Kim Bock on Tenor Sax, Jemremy Mansasia on Piano, and Brian Floddy on drums.