Big Name Jazz Comes to MSU

MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence series

The MSU College of Music launched its new jazz studies artist in residence program in 2013-14 thanks to a $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union, the largest-ever investment in the college’s curriculum.

Three international jazz artists visited campus for a week to teach College of Music students and publicly perform. They also worked with high school and middle school jazz students across Michigan. Jazz Orchestra I, the college’s premier student jazz ensemble, toured with the artists around the state, focusing especially on diverse communities.

Jazz Artists

April 7-12, 2014

Drummer Jeff Hamilton
Jeff Hamilton grew up listening to his parents’ big band records and at the age of eight began playing drums. He attended Indiana University and later studied with John Avon Ohlen. He got his first break playing with the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and joined Lionel Hampton’s Band that led to becoming a member along with John Clayton, of the Monty Alexander Trio. He performed with Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, and Monty Alexander. The Los Angeles Jazz Society named Hamilton and his musical partner, John Clayton, musicians of the year for 2006. Hamilton is currently touring with his own trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and Diana Krall. In addition to his many recordings with Ray Brown, he has b ten on nearly 200 recordings with artists such as Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme, John Pizzarelli, Benny Carter, Lalo Schifrin, George Shearing, and many others. As well as recording and performing throughout the world, he also teaches, arranges, and composes.

October 14–19, 2013

Saxophonist Antonio Hart
Antonio Hart is one of the top alto saxophonists on the scene today, was classically trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts, studied jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and later earned his master’s degree in music composition and performance at Queens College in New York. In 1991, he made his debut recording as leader, “For the First Time,” on RCA/Novus. He has since gone on to perform around the globe and record over 80 albums with such eminent jazz artists as Nat Adderley, Monty Alexander, Terence Blanchard, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ray Brown, Cyrus Chestnut, Dizzy Gillespie, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Christian McBride, Wallace Roney, McCoy Tyner, and Nancy Wilson. Hart’s 1997 release, “Here I Stand,” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. Besides being an internationally acclaimed performer and prolific composer, Hart is a renowned educator and enjoys working with up-and-coming young jazz artists. He currently serves as Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

December 5-9, 2013

Trumpeter Jon Faddis
Jon Faddis, who began playing the trumpet at the age of eight, toured and recorded with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band for four years, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music during that time. By the age of 20, he had become widely acclaimed by the press; Dizzy Gillespie declared, “...he’s the best ever - including me!” Faddis has become known throughout the world as one of the most innovative and inspiring jazz trumpeters of our time. He has an unfailing commitment to the education of young musicians and frequently conducts clinics and master classes to help the next generation of jazz musicians. In 1999, Jon was appointed Artist-in-Residence in the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, State University of New York, where he teaches in both the Brass and Jazz Programs.

Thanks to a $1 Million Endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union

“We are so grateful for the ongoing generosity of MSUFCU to MSU, which has enabled countless people to access a wide variety of university resources,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “This gift, to fund the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence Endowment, will have an exceptional and lasting effect on campus as well as in our community, state and nation.”

Watch the video announcing the financial support of the MSU Federal Credit Union:


“This financial gift from MSUFCU is a true game changer,” said Rodney Whitaker, director of jazz studies. “It will elevate our discipline to a higher level educationally, creatively and musically and it will provide our students and the community access to world-class cultural experiences.”

Founded in 2001, the Jazz Studies Program leads the college’s outreach efforts, teaching and mentoring youth in southeast Michigan, Whitaker said. MSU Professors of Jazz, a faculty performance group, has strong ties to Detroit and will work with the musicians to inspire cultural prosperity in urban areas. 

In fact, the College of Music hopes to reach 50,000 people through performances and social media, while also recruiting high school students to MSU jazz studies, he said.

“This generous gift from MSUFCU will further strengthen one of America’s great jazz programs and will provide unforgettable musical and educational experiences not only for our students, but also for thousands of people across Michigan,” said James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music.

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