Denison Annual Spring Jazz Festival Features Saxophonist Walt Weiskopf
Date of Event: March 28, 2001
Posted: March 22, 2001
The Denison University annual spring jazz festival will feature the New York-based tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf as guest artist with the Denison University Jazz Ensemble and in a concert with members of the University jazz faculty and other local jazz artists. Weiskopf is a composer, author and clinician. All the Denison events are free and open to the public.
"Walt has had a tremendous influence on the jazz world," says Pete Mills, organizer of this year's festival and an affiliated studio instructor at Denison. "As a former student of Weiskopf's, I am aware of the great respect that fellow jazz musicians have for his talents, even though he has not yet achieved the 'celebrity' status of others in the music world."
A native of Augusta, Ga., reared in Syracuse, N.Y., and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, Weiskopf moved to New York City in the fall of 1980 and the following spring, at age 21, joined the Buddy Rich Band. In 1983 he joined Japanese pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi's Big Band. Weiskopf began writing and working with a quartet of his own and recorded the first of his nine CDs in 1989. Weiskopf also earned a master of arts in clarinet performance from Queens College of the City University of New York where he studied with Leon Russianoff.
His latest of seven recordings on the Dutch "Criss Cross" label, released last fall, is "Siren." It features his own compositions arranged for a nine-piece ensemble - a nonet - (alto, tenor, & baritone saxophones; flute; trumpet; trombone; piano; bass; and drums). His 1996 recording, "Song for My Mother," earned a four-star rating in Downbeat magazine. He was called "one of the great composers of modern jazz" by Bill Cunliffe in the Los Angeles Jazz Scene.
The festival opens at 9 p.m. on Wednesday (March 28) with a performance by the Denison Jazz Combo, a student group, in The Roost on Slayter Hall's third floor. There will be a special screening of the jazz documentary "A Great Day in Harlem" at 9 p.m. on Thursday evening (March 29) in the Slayter Hall Auditorium. The film documents a photo shoot in New York by Esquire magazine. A general call for jazz musicians in New York to show up for the shoot resulted in an extraordinary gathering of influential musicians. It contains interviews of the musicians who were present and gives an interesting glimpse into the personalities and lives of these icons of jazz, including Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk.
The Walt Weiskopf Nonet, featuring members of the Denison jazz faculty as well as other central Ohio jazz artists, performs at 8 p.m. on Friday (March 30) in the Burke Recital Hall. The program will be a mix of Weiskopf original compositions and arrangements, along with some interesting reworkings of selected jazz standards.
Playing will be: Chris Keith on flute; Jim Masters on trombone; Jim Powell on trumpet; Richard Lopez on piano; Doug Richeson on bass; Guy Remonko on drums; Michael Cox on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Mills on alto saxophone; and Weiskopf on tenor sax. Both Masters and Powell were members of the Buddy Rich Big Band during the early '80s, so this concert will be a reunion of sorts. Masters teaches at Ohio State University; Cox at Capital University and Lopez, Richeson, Remonko and Mills at Denison.
Weiskopf will conduct a master class from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday (March 31). Weiskopf has had three books published on jazz improvisation, includingColtrane: A Player's Guide to His Harmonywith Ramon Ricker, his teacher at Eastman,The Augmented Scale in JazzandIntervalic Improvisation. He currently serves on the faculty of New Jersey City University.
On Saturday evening another student ensemble, the Latin/Jazz Percussion Ensemble, will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Burke Recital Hall. Thefestival performances conclude on Sunday (April 1) with a concert by the Denison University Jazz Ensemble, a student group directed by Mills, at 3 p.m. in Swasey Chapel. Denison faculty members Tom Carroll and Richeson will be featured on several numbers with Weiskopf during the concert.
In addition to his Jazz Festival appearances inDenison is co-sponsoring Weiskopf's appearance at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday evening (March 31) at the 2Co's Cabaret in Columbus (790 N. High Street). Described by Mills as a non-smoking, listener friendly spot in the Short North, the 2Co's Cabaret admits all ages. Reservations may be made for the performance there by calling (614) 470-2267. A cover charge of $3 applies for those with reservations; the charge is $5 at the door. Playing with Weiskopf that evening will be Mark Flugge on piano, Chris Berg on bass and Dave Weinstock on drums.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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