The public is invited to witness high school jazz ensembles performing and receiving feedback from some of the nation’s renowned guest jazz artists and educators throughout the day culminating with a final performance showcasing faculty and guest artists in an all-star concert on April 7, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Fayetteville State University’s (FSU) Jazz Day.
Sponsored by FSU’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts, Jazz Day is designed to be a community initiative geared to inviting the public to see young people prepare for a future in jazz and to enjoy a free jazz concert featuring the accomplished guest artists and FSU faculty. The guest artists have performed with such jazz greats as Cedar Walton, Bradford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Pat Matheny, Bob James, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett and more. An all-star concert will be at 7 p.m. in J.W. Seabrook Auditorium. Admission is free.
“This will be an important day for FSU as we move towards cultivating a stronger jazz presence on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Don Parker, FSU Department of Performing and Fine Arts interim department chair. “Mr. Ronald Carter’s presence is providing FSU with an opportunity to pursue this goal with his vast experience and his expertise in jazz education.”
High school jazz bands from as far as Atlanta and Raleigh, as well as local and regional bands will perform throughout the day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in 203 Rosenthal Building.
“We love attracting and educating young people to the art form of Jazz,” said Ron Carter, FSU’s Felton J. Capel Professor of Performing and Fine Arts. Carter is known for being an educator and a professional jazz musician who has taught jazz education and performance at universities, high schools and performing arts schools in the U.S., Canada and South America.
“Many young people don’t know the significance of Jazz, which is a music genre that originated in African-American culture more than 100 years ago and is considered by many as America’s classical music. Our goals is to shape a new generation of artists to preserve and progress the future of this form of American art, and what better way to do this than including some of today’s top artists in the genre.”
Carter said the unique feature of performing jazz is its improvisation. When musicians play a tune, they have opportunity to spontaneously create their own interpretations on the spot, which takes lots of skill. He enjoys teaching and helping young people to enhance their skills to the level required to be successful in the genre.
For the all-star evening concert, the visiting artists who will teach in the day will be joined by FSU faculty members Carter, saxophone; Neal Finn, FSU director of jazz, trombone; Gregg Gelb, FSU adjunct woodwind instructor, saxophone and Parker, percussion.
The Visiting Artists
Bryan Carter, who shortly after completing his training at The Juilliard School in New York City, played or recorded with many notable artists including Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller, Jon Faddis, Ted Nash, Terell Stafford, Bobby Watson, Lew Tabackin, Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut. He currently tours with vocalists Michael Feinstein and Kurt Elling.
Al Strong has performed with artists such as Branford Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Clay Aiken, and Eric Roberson. He also played with The Foreign Exchange, Yahzarah, and Soul Understated featuring Mavis “Swan” Poole, and many others. Strong balances his love for music performance with adjunct teaching responsibilities at North Carolina Central University, as well as festivals, shows and summer jazz camps with his non-profit organization, The Art of Cool Project. He has recently been named “a performer to watch” in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.
Rodney Whitaker is an Internationally renowned bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist. He holds the titles of professor of jazz bass and director of jazz studies at Michigan State University where he has built one of the leading jazz degree programs and performing faculty in the U.S. He has toured the world collaborating and performing with legendary jazz artists Jimmy Heath, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Terence Blanchard, Kenny Burrell, Bob James, Benny Golson, Regina Carter, Pat Matheny, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Cedar Walton, Randy Brecker, Nnenna Freelon, Donald Byrd, Branford Marsalis and Terrell Stafford, to name a few.
Reggie Thomas, coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, is one of the most in demand pianists and educators in the country. He is pianist for the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra. Thomas has performed across the US in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and St. Louis and abroad in Brisbane, Calgary, London, Milan, Montreal, Poznan, Senegal, Sydney, Toronto, Trinidad and Warsaw. Thomas’ latest recording (with wife Mardra), Matters of the Heart, was released March 2015 and follows previous recordings Fade to Blue, Standard Time and 4.
Fayetteville State University is a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina and the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state, having been founded in 1867. FSU offers degrees at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels. With more than 6,200 students, Fayetteville State University is among the most diverse institutions in the nation. Chancellor James A. Anderson is the 11th chief executive officer.