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Jamming with Jazz Giants

MSUFCU endowment brings top artists to Michigan

Called “one of America’s best jazz programs” by legendary jazz icon Branford Marsalis, the Jazz Studies Program in MSU’s College of Music has amplified its reach with a new artist in residence initiative, thanks to a $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union.

The endowment is enabling the college to offer a plethora of live performances and opportunities for students and communities across Michigan to learn from some of the world’s most notable jazz musicians.

In the 2013-14 inaugural year, three artists in residence presented dozens of workshops and performancesto connect with 650-plus students and more than 7,200 patrons. The lineup of jazz masters included Antonio Hart, considered one of the top alto saxophonists in jazz today; composer, educator and Dizzy Gillespie protégé Jon Faddis, characterized by The Wall Street Journal as “a trumpet player of prodigious lyrical force;” and drummer and master teacher Jeff “The Hammer” Hamilton.

Each residency includes a week spent teaching and touring with MSU’s Professors of Jazz and their students. The tour stops help inspire and strengthen music programs in schools and communities throughout the state.

“This was by far the highlight of my 12-plus years teaching,” says Greg Wells, director of Northview High School Band in Grand Rapids, of a concert and educational visit by Faddis and MSU’s Jazz Orchestra I.

Plans are underway for an equally impressive line-up next year including Christian McBride, jazzbassist, composer, arranger, educator, curator and administrator; trombonist Robin Eubanks of the criticallyacclaimed Dave Holland Quintet; and jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein, a mainstay of the New York jazz scene since 1989.