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A man with a horn: Ron McCurdy, former University faculty member and now chair and professor of Jazz Studies at UCLA's Thornton School of Music.
Mixing it up at Northrop
THE JAZZ SEASON TURNS 10
by Matthew Sumera
From M, winter 2004
Few statements cut to the core of jazz better than Charlie Parker's, for jazz is a "lived" music, a language with origins in the African American experience that details the heights and depths of hope, defiance, love, pain, and redemption. Jazz is honesty incarnate--"If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." Some speak of jazz as America's classical music; others see it as our only indigenous music. The U.S. government has weighed in with the House Concurrent Resolution 57 designating jazz as "a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support, and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood, and promulgated." And while this attention has undoubtedly raised awareness of the art form--as have documentaries like Ken Burns's 10-part PBS series--it is the live performance that keeps jazz alive. Celebrating its 10th year at the University of Minnesota, the Northrop Jazz Season is committed to ensuring that live jazz continues and it has made the Twin Cities a major destination for international jazz artists. Originally funded through a Lyla Wallace Readers Digest grant, the season presents a rare mixture of traditionalism and the avant-garde. Traditionalist jazz, with followers like Burns and critic Stanley Crouch, focuses primarily on music prior to the advent of Ornette Coleman, the boundary-breaking musician and composer whose 1960 album, Free Jazz, shook up the music world. Post-Coleman jazz means absolute freedom to some and complete chaos to others. Either way, it's a significant jazz movement, dating from the mid-1950s, and often ignored. Not so, at the University of Minnesota.
"Music is your own experience, your own
thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of
-- Charlie Parker