Students in the Jacobs School of Music Jazz Studies Department benefit from a world class education and working with faculty at the top of their field. An equally important benefit is being in an environment of talented peers with diverse musical interests and the opportunity to collaborate with these peers. One student group that has now been together for more than a year and has displayed discipline and creativity in both their music and their message is the Liberation Music Collective. Founded as a musical outlet to process recent events in Ferguson, MO and the Black Lives Matter movement, the LMC was formed with an entrepreneurial spirit and social awareness that echoes the significant statements of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra.
Basically Baker, Vol. 2: The Big Band Music of David Baker, the latest CD from the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, was released September 23 on Patois Records. A sequel to the celebrated 2007 release Basically Baker, the new double-CD album received a four-star review in December issue of DownBeat Magazine and made the list of Best Albums of 2016 in the January 2017 issue. Doug Ramsey selected it for his “Monday Recommendation” on his Rifftides blog on November 7, and it broke into the top 50 of the JazzWeek radio charts for November 14, reaching number 33 on the December 5 chart. The album is available on Amazon and iTunes.
The IU Jazz Studies Department and Jacobs School of Music welcomed Dr. Jeremy Fox this fall as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Vocal Jazz. Jeremy brings a depth and understanding of vocal jazz ensemble performance and arranging that is highly regarded. We were able to “sit down” with him and further explore his initial thoughts, expectations, and experiences on campus and in Bloomington.
This fall the IU Jazz Studies Department and Jacobs School of Music welcomed saxophonist Walter Smith III to its faculty as an Associate Professor. Smith brings a background in jazz performance and education that has long been a proud tradition of the department. We were able to “sit down” with him and further explore his initial thoughts, expectations, and experiences on campus and in Bloomington.
by Scott Gotschall Congratulations to IU Jazz faculty member Dave Stryker, who appears this month in both Jazz Times magazine and DownBeat Magazine’s online edition. Stryker’s latest release, Eight Track II, came out September 2nd on his own Strikezone label, featuring Jared Gold, organ, McClenty Hunter, drums, and guest vibraphonist Steve Nelson.
In the Downbeat article, “Stryker’s Eight Track II Provides Portal to Groovy Past,” Stryker discusses his new release and how the material was chosen for Eight Track II, as well as his background prior to playing with Brother Jack McDuff and Stanley Turrentine and his thoughts about teaching jazz.
At the 2016 Jazz Celebration concert on April 23, seven individuals were inducted into the inaugural class of the Jacobs School of Music Jazz Alumni Hall of Fame: Jamey Aebersold, Buddy Baker, the late David Baker, Jerry Coker, Roger Pemberton, Whit Sidener, and Dominic Spera. Individually, they are pioneering authors, a leading publisher, prolific composer/arrangers, outstanding performers, and influential jazz educators and arts advocates. They have established and led some of the country’s most vibrant jazz studies programs, and their students have gone on to be Grammy Award winning performers and award winning composers, arrangers, authors, and educators who continue to spread the gospel of jazz. The collective impact of their work has reached many thousands of musicians around the world and it establishes the historical importance of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as a significant fountainhead for jazz education.
This past spring members of the 1965-66 IU Jazz Ensemble gathered in Bloomington May 27-29 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their historic tour of the Near East and South Asia. The tour came about as a result of being selected as the winning big band at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1965 under the leadership of Jerry Coker. Following on this honor, the group was invited by the U.S. State Department to embark on a cultural diplomacy tour of the Near East and South Asia in early 1966. Members of the ensemble were allowed to miss an entire semester of school to represent the IU School of Music. They experienced both the beauty and wonder of the exotic places they visited and they also suffered primitive conditions, witnessed political unrest, and directly felt the political tensions of the day.
On January 29, 1966, the Indiana University Jazz Ensemble – known as the “first” of three jazz ensembles in the School of Music at that time – departed the U.S. on a 109-day tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department. This 19-member jazz band led by Jerry Coker – as well as a sextet comprised of ensemble members – played over 80 concerts in Ceylon (today’s Sri Lanka), India, East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh), West Pakistan (today’s Pakistan), Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus.
In the Spring of 2016, with Professor Brent Wallarab away on sabbatical, IU Jazz was thrilled to welcome two world-class composer/arrangers into our community: John Fedchock and Mike Holober. Each taught the jazz arranging class and rehearsed the top band. Fedchock made his home on the Indiana University campus for the first eight weeks of the semester and led the top Jacobs School of Music jazz ensemble in both of their concerts.
Here is a video of the IU Jazz Ensemble, directed by John Fedchock, performing his original composition and arrangement “Like It Is.”
“John Fedchock is one of the most accomplished big band composer/arrangers of the last thirty years,” extolled IU Jazz Studies chair Tom Walsh. “We were very fortunate to have him reside on campus to work with and get to know our students.”
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Fedchock is a graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in Music Education and Jazz Studies. He also holds a master’s degree in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Most recently, Fedchock was nominated for a Grammy for his track “You and the Night and the Music” on the album Like It Is. Fedchock maintains a busy schedule working with other musicians through his big band, sextet, and as a performer, producer, and clinician throughout the world.
Many followers of IU Jazz will remember John Fedchock as the featured artist on the 2015 Jazz Celebration concert.
Here is Fedchock performing his composition “Up and Running” at that concert.
Fedchock has spent decades as a trombonist, composer, and producer collaborating with a wide variety of artists, but is best-known for his work with the legendary Woody Herman Orchestra as well as the big bands of Louie Bellson, Gerry Mulligan, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra. Fedchock formed his own successful big band, the John Fedchock New York Big Band, which features his own compositions and arrangements performed by some of New York’s finest jazz musicians.
Reflecting on his time at IU, Fedchock said, “Teaching the arranging class was a fun experience for me. Although having taught arranging privately in the past, it was a challenge to put together a methodical course of study within my relatively short time at IU that could give students everything they’d need to progress forward.” He continued, “I really enjoyed unveiling each new concept and technique to the class, watching them take it in and learn how to implement it in their own personal way. There are a lot of rules in arranging, but my goal was to foster individuality. Seeing that come to fruition was very satisfying.”
Fedchock also enjoyed the friendly and inclusive atmosphere of Indiana University and surrounding Bloomington. “Perhaps due to growing up in the Midwest, I immediately felt comfortable with all the students I encountered,” said Fedchock. “All were warm and welcoming, and it was easy for me to foster a relaxed rapport. This made my experience as a teacher more enjoyable than I could have imagined.”
Fedchock spoke highly of the students in the top jazz ensemble. “This particular group was an exceptional pleasure to work with,” he said. “They did everything they could to give me exactly what I asked for… In essence, they all conducted themselves as true professionals, which tells me they will have great success at the next level.”
Aside from his time in the classroom and on the MAC stage, Fedchock had the opportunity to connect with the faculty. “In addition to the great students, I also enjoyed working among the fine jazz faculty at the Jacobs School of Music. It’s nice to be in an environment with one shared vision. This is not a common occurrence in many jazz programs,” he observed. “As a trombonist, it was also great to interact with some of the excellent brass faculty at the school.”
Fedchock also visited Bear’s Place on more than one occasion to hear live jazz. “Hearing the students perform was very inspiring, and it was also a surprise to discover that jazz music has a weekly home at Bear’s Place. Very few jazz programs have somewhere in the community so close to school for students and faculty alike to work on their craft in a ‘real world’ setting.”
He summed up his experience at IU saying, “My experience at the Jacobs School of Music was more than I had hoped for. The overall level of musicianship throughout the program is outstanding, with everyone’s general mindset being one focused on excellence and professionalism.” He added, “Bloomington is a great town, and I felt at home right away.”