FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University Jacobs School of Music alumnus Randy Brecker will make an exceptional return to Bloomington this weekend as the headline performer at the B’Town Jazz Fest.
A Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and flügelhornist, Brecker will join pianist Monika Herzig’s ensemble then Clark Hunt’s Drive-By Big Band before performing his own set to wrap up the event, which begins at 12 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Woolery Mill.
Joining Brecker in the closing set will be Jacobs faculty Greg Ward, saxophone; Luke Gillespie, piano; Jeremy Allen, bass; and Sean Dobbins, drums.
Saxophonist Ada Rovatti, Brecker’s wife, is unable to attend as previously announced.
Brecker will also lead a clinic for Jacobs School and Bloomington High School North jazz students at Jacobs on Friday, working with student-led combos from both.
Other festival performances will include numerous Jacobs students, faculty and alumni in a variety of configurations as well as a many additional local artists.
B’Town Jazz Fest will also feature the premieres of two new compositions it commissioned from two Jacobs Jazz Studies professors to reflect on diversity, racial justice and related issues, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and events of 2020.
Clark Hunt’s Drive-By Big Band will premiere trombonist Wayne Wallace’s nine-minute “Atozota (36°30’).” The band, led by doctoral student trumpeter Hunt, will also perform David Baker’s “Black Thursday,” among other selections.
The Greg Ward Nonet will premiere Ward’s work, which is 10 minutes long and yet untitled. “Naming a new composition is always the most difficult part for me,” said Ward.
“During 2020, I took a deeper look into the history that divides us as a country,” said Wallace. “The Missouri Compromise of 1820, Reconstruction, the World Wars, McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement were some of the topics I focused on. There are obvious and some not-so-obvious connections that demand our attention so we can stop talking past each other.
“‘Atozota (36°30’)’ is meant to represent and examine our circular struggle in the hope of having meaningful dialogue. The parallel 36°30’ north is the circle of latitude that was used as the line of demarcation for the Missouri Compromise. It set the stage for the Civil War.
“I felt a palindrome best represented the different views in American society. How we can see events in such totally different ways. There are different textures that are meant to reflect the political and racial American landscape.”
Ward composed his piece for nine musicians, featuring his quartet from Chicago—including Paul Bedal, piano; Matt Ulery, bass; and Quin Kirchner, drums. Completing the ensemble for the premiere will be Jacobs faculty Tom Walsh, saxophone, Pat Harbison and John Raymond, trumpet, and students Erich Corfman and Jeff Parker, trombone.
“This piece was definitely inspired by my personal experience with and feelings about certain events that took place during 2020,” said Ward. “Many of my friends and colleagues suddenly found themselves out of work and without income. We were all scared by the uncertainty of that moment.
“Also, the day after George Floyd was murdered, I was followed and taunted by a man in my neighborhood here in Bloomington, which made me fear for my safety and my wife’s. Ultimately, I decided that I wouldn’t be afraid but would go on with my life with the hope that, somehow, we can all come together. We all need each other.”
“We need music now more than ever to soothe, replenish and nurture the best in all of us,” said Wallace.
“B’Town Jazz is deeply moved by and extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from our community partners and donors for helping us make an event of this magnitude possible,” said John Christopher Porter, B’Town Jazz board president. “This year’s festival not only marks a rare homecoming for one of Jacobs’ most important jazz alums, but also celebrates Black lives in a truly indelible way through commissioned works by Wayne Wallace and Greg Ward.
“Plus, festival mainstays such as Jamey Aebersold, Janiece Jaffe and the Postmodern Jazz Quartet round out our talent roster for an exhilarating day of some of the best jazz Bloomington has to offer."