Jazz symposium at University of the South
Three-day event includes symposium, Sewanee Jazz Society reunion and Aaron Diehl Quartet in concert
A landmark concert in the history of American music gets some overdue recognition this weekend.
In April 1961, the Modern Jazz Quartet was heard for the first time in the South, performing at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. At that point, the MJQ was not the household name it would later become; it had landed in Sewanee entirely thanks to the efforts of the student Jazz Society.
The university, lacking a concert hall at that time, offered its gymnasium for a concert in the round, which was one of the first integrated events to occur on campus.
The University of the South pays tribute to that landmark event on Sunday, Feb. 11, by hosting the Aaron Diehl Quartet, reviving the songs played by the MJQ in ’61.
Pianist Diehl will bring with him vibraphonist Warren Wolf, Paul Sikivie on bass and Peter Van Nostrand on drums.
Their concert culminates a symposium ded- icated to the music of the MJQ , which begins Friday, Feb. 9, at the university. The symposium will feature several leading names in jazz studies, including Gary Giddins, featured expert in Ken Burns’s “Jazz” and author of “Visions of Jazz and Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star”; and George Schuller, drummer with the Lee Konitz Quartet and son of famed composer and jazz advocate Gunther Schuller.
Symposium participants will also hear from Phil Schaap, New York City jazz personality, faculty member of Juilliard Jazz studies, curator of Jazz at Lincoln Center and faculty member of Juilliard Jazz Studies; and Dr. Christopher Coady, the author of “John Lewis and the Challenge of ‘Real’ Black Music” and lecturer at the Sydney, Australia, Conservatorium of Music.
Coady will lecture on the significance of the MJQ’s experience in Europe and the impact of that on their lead songwriter in “Jazz Possibilities: John Lewis at Home and Abroad.” Schaap will curate listening sessions of MJQ recordings in the Ralston Listening Room on campus.
Diehl, who at an earlier stage of his career was selected by John Lewis’s widow, Mirjana, to archive the music of her husband, will lead a performance-discussion on Lewis’s charts from a pianist’s perspective.
A special feature of the symposium will be a viewing of “Music Inn,” hosted by George Schuller, who co-produced the film. This documentary tells the story of the School of Jazz in Lenox, Mass., and the superb performers who graced the stage of its “Music Barn” for three decades, including Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie and Pete Seeger.
All those artists also played on the Sewanee campus in the 1960s and ’70s, sponsored by the student Jazz Society.
The jazz weekend begins with a pre- symposium dinner on Friday and concludes with Aaron Diehl Quartet’s concert Sunday afternoon.
For more information about specific times, locations, registration and ticket charges, visit www.sewanee.edu/mjqinsewanee.
Modern Jazz Quartet