• Melissa Aldana, saxophone image

    Melissa Aldana, saxophone

  • Steve Davis, trombone image

    Steve Davis, trombone

  • Mimi Jones, bass image

    Mimi Jones, bass

  • Mark Whitfield, guitar image

    Mark Whitfield, guitar

Jazz Artist in Residence program presents another stellar lineup.

A diverse line-up of leading jazz musicians engaged students, schools and communities across Michigan in the sixth year of the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program in 2018-19 on the campus of Michigan State University.

Launched in 2013, the pioneering residency program brings high-level talent to spend a week mentoring MSU jazz studies students and K-12 students at schools and academies across the state. Coordinated by the MSU College of Music and supported by a $1 million endowment by the MSU Federal Credit Union, the program follows the jazz tradition of established musicians passing on their knowledge to aspiring musicians, while enriching often resource-strapped jazz programs in urban and rural communities. The dazzling 2018-19 lineup of working musicians, composers and educators offered a variety of jazz styles from artists Melissa Aldana, Mark Whitfield, Mimi Jones and Steve Davis.

“Jazz is a spoken language that is passed on from generation to generation,” said Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker. “Our residency program brings amazing jazz musicians to Michigan who travel across the state, mentor young musicians, and build support for school and community music programs. It’s great for our jazz studies students to be a part of that and to help to ensure arts education continues to thrive.”

Aldana kicked things off in October, followed by guitarist Mark Whitfield in December, bassist Mimi Jones in February, and trombonist Steve Davis in March. They electrified the winter and spring through four separate, weeklong residencies. The MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program represents the largest-ever investment in the College’s curriculum and provides one-on-one instruction, collaboration and performance opportunities with some of the world’s best jazz musicians. The impressive lineup over the years has included:

  • Year One 2013-14: Saxophonist Antonio Hart, Trumpeter Jon Faddis and Drummer Jeff Hamilton
  • Year Two 2014-15: Bassist Christian McBride, Trombonist Robin Eubanks, Guitarist Peter Bernstein, and Michigan icons Saxophonist Vincent Bowens and Drummer Tim Froncek
  • Year Three 2015-16: Trumpeter Brian Lynch, Drummer Jimmy Cobb, Pianist Kenny Barron and Saxophonist Tim Warfield, Jr.
  • Year Four 2016-17: Guitarist Russell Malone, Bassist Rufus Reid, Clarinetist-Saxophonist Anat Cohen and Trombonist Conrad Herwig
  • Year Five 2017-18: Trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman, Drummer Harvey Mason, Pianist Helen Sung, Saxophonist Steve Wilson

Each year, artists in residence travel with MSU’s jazz ensembles to give 16 performances across the state in support of jazz programs at non-profit organizations and at middle and high schools. All combined, the residencies of the 20 artists included workshops, concerts, events and outreach to more than 25,000 students and adults in communities across Michigan.

2018/19 MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence Program

Masters of excellence
Two leading jazz artists mentor MSU students through week-long residencies.

Melissa Aldana, saxophone (October 2018)
Mark Whitfied, guitar (December 2018)
Both Aldana and Whitfield are stand-outs in today’s jazz world. Whitfield is the epitome of the modern, flexible jazz artist who records and performs with musicians spanning generations and genres. And while his approach contrasts with the pioneering style and depth of Aldana, both artists hold fast to jazz traditions, including mentoring aspiring players. 

Diversifying jazz mentorship
Leading musicians cap off dynamic lineup for MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program.

Mimi Jones, bass (February 2019)
Steve Davis, trombone (March 2019)
Bassist Mimi Jones and trombonist Steve Davis both showed their commitment to mentoring by sharing insights on performance, style, and the business side of jazz. And while their perspectives were similar, each related different personal experiences shaped by age and gender.