Announcing MSUFCU Jazz Artists in Residence, 2014/15

Christian McBride, the first of five outstanding jazz artists coming to MSU and schools across the state of Michigan.

Michigan jazzed up last year. And thanks to a $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union, the College of Music at Michigan State University will reverberate with a stellar lineup for the second year of the jazz studies artist-in-residence program. See 2013/14 story on jazz aritsts in residnece: MSU Jazz Studies’ new program brings broad appeal.

The MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program provides one-on-one instruction, collaboration, and performance opportunities with the world’s very best jazz musicians. In 2013-14, guest artists Antonio Hart, saxophone; Jon Faddis, trumpet; and Jeff Hamilton, drums lit up the campus and community with weeklong residencies that involved student workshops, concerts, events, and outreach to 7,850 students and adults in communities and schools across the state. 

“Because of the generous gift from the MSU Federal Credit Union, we can provide unforgettable musical and educational experiences for our students and for thousands of people across Michigan,” says James Forger, dean of the MSU College of Music. “The effect of this largest-ever investment in our curriculum will be profoundly felt for generations.”

Fueled by last year’s momentum, the 2014-15 program has attracted a lineup emblazoned with critically acclaimed musicians such as jazz-bassist Christian McBride, trombonist Robin Eubanks, and guitarist Peter Berstein. Michigan jazz icons Tim Froncek, drummer; and George Benson, saxophonist will also heat up campus with a distinctly regional flare. See 2014-15 jazz artist lineup.

“The Credit Union’s gift catapults us to the top five or 10 jazz programs in the country,” says Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker. “It’s made us more visible. We’ve become a model. Every jazz program director I know is asking how we do what we do.”

From October through March, MSU will host individual guest artists for a week of intensive activity both on- and off-campus. Visits will be front-loaded with workshops and public concerts, and artists will teach and rehearse with students from the College’s top jazz orchestra. Toward the end of the week, each guest artist will take to the road with MSU jazz students to visit, teach, and perform at elementary, middle, and high school music programs across the state, including local school districts.

“When we tour and interact with schools, it gives our students immediate testament to the obligation to give back, build community, and be a good mentor,” says Whitaker. “Our goal as faculty is not simply to create good musicians, it’s to create the next generation of leaders.” 

Whitaker says that guest artists, too, have grown to appreciate the value of jazz studies within colleges and universities, and to see the dedication, respect, and commitment students have toward music, faculty, and mentors.

“Most of them have thought of an academic place as a sterile environment,” he says. “But when they come and spend time with us and experience the respect and commitment of our students, it blows their mind.”

MSU’s jazz studies program was founded in 2001 and excels in community outreach, engagement, and performance opportunities. Musically active faculty help strengthen college programming and instruction in blues-based jazz through professional connections, chart-topping recordings, and frequent performances across the U.S. and abroad.

“Integrating arts and culture along with economic development helps to create an enriched community,” says Patrick McPharlin, president and CEO of MSUFCU. “This gift will also provide opportunities for students and the community to experience world-renowned jazz artists close to home.”

Media Release (PDF)

2014-2015 Lineup

Michigan State Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence Program

This year’s MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program includes five jazz musicians, two of which are Michigan jazz icons. Artists will spend a week teaching and touring with the MSU Jazz Studies program, including stops and workshops at various Michigan schools. Campus and the community performances, like the Blue Monday concerts at the MSU Federal Credit Union, will also be instrumental to the program. Artists and their residencies include:

October 6-12, 2014
Christian McBride
, jazz bass
McBride is one of the premiere bassists in the world, as well as a composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator.

December 1-7, 2014
Robin Eubanks
, jazz trombone
Eubanks plays trombone with his groups EB3 and Mental Images, the San Francisco Jazz Collective, and the critically acclaimed Dave Holland Quintet.

February 16-20, 2015 (Michigan Jazz Icons)
Vincent Bowens, jazz saxophone
A fixture in Detroit musical culture, Bowens has performed with regional jazz greats like Roy Brooks, Marion Hayden, Geri Allen, Bob Hurst, Eddie Jefferson, Rodney Whitaker, and countless others.

February 16-20, 2015 (Michigan Jazz Icons)
Tim Froncek
, jazz drums
Froncek is one of the most in-demand drummers in the Midwest and was a member of Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd.

March 2-8, 2015 
Peter Bernstein, jazz guitar
Bernstein has been a part of the jazz scene in New York and abroad since 1989. He is one of the most recorded jazz artists of his generation.

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