Roger Pemberton, an IU Jazz Alumni Hall of Fame inductee, performs with the faculty/student jazz ensemble Saturday night at the Musical Arts Center. Pemberton performs his musical talents on both the soprano saxophone and flute.
Photo by DEONNA WEATHERLY
In 1950, the big bang of jazz education began.
At least that’s what Tom Walsh, the chair of IU’s Department of Jazz Studies, calls it. In 1950, Buddy Baker and Jerry Coker started as students at IU. In the following years, five other jazz musicians — Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Roger Pemberton, Whit Sidener and Dominic Spera — passed through IU.
These seven IU alumni were honored Saturday at the annual Jazz Celebration concert, where they were the first class to be inaugurated into the IU Jazz Alumni Hall of Fame.
IU Jazz Alumni Hall of Fame inductee, Jamey Aebersold, performs with members of the student jazz ensemble Saturday night at the Musical Arts Center. Aebersold has created more than 133 volumes of jazz recordings and books throughout 50 years.
Photo by DEONNA WEATHERLY
Five of the alumni a ttended. Jerry Coker was unable to come, and the late David Baker was represented by his wife Lida Baker in the second balcony. Baker died March 26.
“They are all not only great jazz musicians but great jazz educators as well,” Walsh said. “They all were around this area at the same time and went off to do such great things.”
Buddy Baker started teaching the first official jazz course for credit at IU in 1959. He convinced Wilfred Bain, then-dean of the music school, that they should start a big band because a larger ensemble would be more familiar and easily recognizable to the rest of the faculty, which would help introduce them to the new style of music.
After Buddy Baker, Roger
Pemberton started teaching jazz courses and lessons for saxophone, an instrument that had not been previously offered at IU. When Pemberton left Bloomington, Jerry Coker took over the jazz program. David Baker created the jazz degree program in 1968.
Previously, students were not even allowed to play jazz in practice rooms, Walsh said. Monitors would knock on doors of students playing jazz and tell them to stop.
Jazz was assumed to be a kind of street music accompanied with drug culture and was not considered fine music, Aebersold said during an open-panel discussion early Saturday afternoon.
“If you counted the money I spent on beer or cigarettes or drugs, it was nothing,” Aebersold said. “I spent all my money on jazz records.”
Aebersold was the first student to perform jazz during an official recital at IU. Roger Pemberton, from whom Aebersold took saxophone lessons, worked to let him play jazz during his senior recital.
Still, Aebersold said he was afraid he would be expelled because jazz was so new to the academic music world. For a week after his recital, he entered the music building through the back door to avoid meeting any faculty because he was afraid of the conversation they might have,
On Saturday, the audience applauded as each of the alumni was inducted into the Hall of Fame. After each brief induction, a big band made up of IU jazz faculty and students played a piece each inductee had composed, arranged or performed. Pemberton and Aebersold both performed onstage with the band for their pieces.
Pemberton, 85, and in an electric blue jacket and bright white pants, played both the soprano saxophone and the flute. He pulled the flute out of the inside pocket of his jacket to alternate. Only half an hour into the concert, Pemberton elicited a standing ovation.
The first and last songs of the concert were original compositions by David Baker, two of more than 2,000 works he composed in his lifetime. At the concert, Joey Kendrick, a senior at IU, received the first BMI Foundation David N. Baker Jazz Composition Scholarship Award, a continuing scholarship in his name to encourage the future generation of jazz composers.
Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School of Music, assured the audience David Baker was at the concert in spirit, as he was with all of his students, friends and loved ones. Richards recalled David Baker would always say he didn’t just teach jazz, he taught life.
“It’s more than nostalgia, loyalty or pride,” Richards said. “It’s our opportunity to celebrate these alumni who have done so much for jazz.”
©Indiana Daily Student