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IU Jacobs Jazz Studies features new jams this semester

Sept. 13, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - New concert offerings, a vocal jazz ensemble and world-class guest artists are just part of the "happenings" this fall in the Jazz Studies Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Mike Stern

Jazz guitarist Mike Stern will offer clinics at the Jacobs School on Oct. 4.

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One of the biggest changes of the season is Distinguished Professor David Baker, chair of the department, passing the baton for his jazz ensemble to fellow faculty member Brent Wallarab—after directing it for more than 40 years.

"Somehow or other, you feel when the time is right," said Baker. "As I head toward the twilight of my life, it feels very natural for me to pass it on to someone who knows my instincts with the music—how to preserve it and use it as a teaching tool. Brent is very drawn to the music and very dedicated; he will do a good job.

"Although it is bittersweet, I needed the breathing room. Besides, it's a good chance for me to be able to enjoy the band without having to stand in front of it," Baker smiled.

The Brent Wallarab Jazz Ensemble kicks off the fall jazz season Monday, Sept. 17. The concert will showcase the school's top big band playing music by some of the best composers in modern jazz, including Thad Jones, Jim McNeely and Clare Fischer. Monday's concert will premiere an original work by Jacobs graduate student Michael Nearpass,"Durkees Ferry Road."

Assistant Professor Jeremy Allen will also lead a big-band jazz ensemble, with their first concert of the year on Monday, Sept. 24.

Each jazz Monday night in the Musical Arts Center will begin at 7:15 p.m. with a lobby concert featuring IU jazz combos. Mainstage events begin at 8:00 p.m.

An important addition to this year's regular Musical Arts Center line-up is the Latin Jazz Ensemble, directed by Associate Professor Michael Spiro. The ensemble's MAC debut last April at the Jazz Celebration was received by an enthusiastic crowd. The group has had audiences dancing in the aisles at venues around the region—from the Percussive Arts Society Conference in Indianapolis to the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati to Bloomington's own Bear's Place.

Superstar jazz guitarist Mike Stern will visit with his trio on Thursday, Oct. 4, for clinics in Ford Hall beginning at 2:30 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.

Curtis Fuller

Iconic jazz trombonist Curtis Fuller will perform with the Brent Wallarab Jazz Ensemble on Oct. 22, with a guest conducting appearance by longtime friend David Baker.

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The Oct. 22 Wallarab Jazz Ensemble concert will feature iconic jazz trombonist Curtis Fuller, a National Endowment for the Arts jazz master known for his work with John Coltrane, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, the Jazztet and many others.

Fellow NEA Jazz Master Baker will make a guest appearance conducting a piece featuring Fuller with the ensemble. Fuller will be on campus beginning Oct. 19, to present clinics to Jazz Studies students.

In preparation for Fuller's visit, Baker will give a special presentation about him on Oct. 15. Baker and Fuller have been friends since the 1960s, when they were trombonists on the road together in the Quincy Jones Band.

New Singing Hoosiers director Steve Zegree will also direct the IU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, with assistance from vocal jazz coach Ly Wilder. The ensemble and its band may be heard at Bloomington's Café Django on Oct. 26 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the first-ever Vocal Jazz Night@The Café.

For more information about the Jacobs Jazz Studies Department, contact or visit