by A.J. O’Reilly, Tom Walsh, and Scott Gotschall
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.”
Learn more about John Fedchock on his website: http://www.johnfedchock.com