• MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

  • MSU Professors of Jazz image

    MSU Professors of Jazz

About The Professors

One of the most elite performing and educating jazz faculty in the United States, the MSU Professors of Jazz in Michigan State University's College of Music, was established in 2000.  This supercharged group of individuals with dynamic talents and skills in composition, arranging, performances and production of shows nationally and internationally invariably exhibit unprecedented levels of commitment, collaboration and innovation--which yields astounding and superior performances and recordings.  Artistic director, Rodney Whitaker, is director of the Jazz Studies program at MSU. Since its inception, the group has completed residencies at Detroit Symphony Hall, Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts League of Michigan Jazz at the Center and Michigan State University Federal Credit Union Guest Artist Series. Through these residencies and series, the group has performed in concert with notable international jazz artists, including Mark Whitfield, Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Peter Bernstein, Vanessa Rubin, Nneena Freelon, Rufus Reid, Timothy Warfield, Walter White, Brian Lynch, Carl Allen, Buster Williams, Jon Faddis, Conrad Herwig, Anat Cohen, Steve Wilson, Melissa Aldana, Russell Malone, Jon Carl Hendricks, Jimmy Cobb, Wycliffe Gordon, Joe Temperley, Michael Phillip Mossman, Harvey Mason, Helen Sung, Walter Blanding, Robin Eubanks, Andre Hayward, Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Reed, Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Wynton Marsalis, Ali Jackson, Maya Orr, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Walden, Marcus Printup, Gerald Wilson Big Band, Ingrid Jensen and a host of many other high profile jazz artists.

In their home town of the Greater Lansing Area, the group has been voted two times as TOP OF THE TOWN WINNERS for BEST JAZZ MUSICIAN(S), and a 2nd place since the commencement of the category three years ago. 

"MSU PROFESSORS OF JAZZ Do we deserve them? Probably not, sinners that we are, yet they are still among us, each of them a star in his own right, teaching, building community, changing hundreds of young lives and swinging like a baby elephant trunk."—Lansing’s Top of the Town

Read about their recent CD, Better than Alright.

Group Members

The “hard-bop” band is a seven-piece ensemble featuring Etienne Charles (trumpet), Xavier Davis (piano), Michael Dease (trombone), Randy Gelispie (drums), Randy Napoleon (jazz guitar), Diego Rivera (tenor saxophone), and Rodney Whitaker (bass). The band continues to perform music from the jazz canon, including standards, jazz classics, and original compositions. 

Promotional Photos

On stage (full color)

 

Around piano (black and white)

 

Around piano (full color)

 

 

The Group Offers:

  • Concerts for young people, produced as part of the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts' “Jazz Kats” series
  • Concerts and workshops in high schools and colleges
  • Master classes
  • Lecture demonstrations

The group considers invitations to perform at jazz festivals, concert series, and clubs and to serve in jazz residencies.

For more information about the MSU Professors of Jazz, call (517) 432-6449 or e-mail jazz@msu.edu.