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Jazz Program News


Visiting Jazz Artists we have hosted:

Randy Brecker, trumpet
Mike Baggetta Quartet
Terence Blanchard, trumpet
Cyrus Chestnut, piano
Kenny Garrett Quintet *
Dave Liebman, sax
Sheila Jordan, voice
Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra
Earl MacDonald's New Directions Ensemble
Royal Hartigan: Blood Drum Spirit
Free Planet Radio
Chris Merz, MM'90, sax
Ernie Watts, sax *
Dave Samuels & Caribbean Jazz Project *
Jovino Santos Neto, piano
Steve Wilson, sax
Paul Winter, sax
New England Jazz Ensemble
U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors Big Band
U.S. Marine Corps, Jazz Ensemble

* = Sponsored by the Fine Arts Center

Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett

Blood Drum Spirit Blood Drum Spirit

2017 Downbeat Award Winners:

The UMass Vocal Jazz Ensemble, directed by Catherine-Jensen-Hole, was the Collegiate Winner of the Latin Ensemble (Undergraduate) category. In addition, soloists Christian Tremblay (keyboards MM‘16), Mike Caudill (tenor sax and EWI MM 16) and Dann Friedman (tenor sax MM’18) all received Outstanding Performance recognition in the Blues/Pop/Rock Soloist (Graduate) category, and Mike Caudill also received an Outstanding Performance in the collegiate Jazz Arrangement category for his vocal setting of “Scarborough Fair.” The June 2017 issue of Downbeat also includes a sidebar article with Mike Caudill’s comments on the Jazz Ensemble’s win.

Davis-Elligers-Caudill At the Villanova Jazz Festival: Our jazz combo City of Four placed first in the Combo Division. Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Jeff Holmes, was first in the Big Band Division. Drummer Caleb Davis '15, trumpeter Sean Elligers MM'15 and saxophonist Mike Caudill '14 (pictured) received Outstanding Soloist awards. The sax and trumpet sections of Jazz Ensemble I received the Best Section awards.

Christian Tremblay won the Fletcher Henderson/Max Roach Endowed Scholarship Award.

Jeffrey Schneider MM'14 and Michael Caudill '14 each won an ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award.

Lucas Apostoleris '15 received the Howard M. Lebow Memorial Scholarship. At the Jazz Education Network conference in Dallas, Lucas' September Again was selected for performance in the Student Composition Showcase.

Mike Caudill MM'16, tenor sax; Christian Tremblay MM'16, piano; and Lucas Apostoleris '15, drums, auditioned and were selected for the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Jazz Orchestra. Led by acclaimed jazz recording artist and former member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Sean Jones, the group played two sets at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan as well as two nights in Cumberland, MD. http://www.macjo.org

Lucas ApostolerisLucas Apostoleris

Faculty News:

Jazz drummer Thomas Giampietro was featured on the Sabian Cymbal artist's page. He released his first CD as a leader, A Faith Rewarded, available on CDBaby (see Recordings).

Catherine Jensen-Hole was guest conductor of the Maine All State Honors Jazz Choir.  She performed and taught for two weeks at the 2012 Jazz in July program.

Of One's Own, the CD of the Jeff Holmes Quartet, was released by Miles High Records. The CD includes acoustic jazz quartet music featuring five original works by Professor Holmes, re-workings of the standards Poinciana and So Long Farewell (from the Sound of Music), and arrangements of contemporary and more traditional straight ahead jazz with Latin and Gospel influences.  The CD is available locally at Turn It Up, Barnes & Noble, Newbury Comics, Amherst Music House and Gerry’s Music, and on amazon.com, itunes and cduniverse.

Felipe Salles’ CD Ugandan Suite made Downbeat's Best CD's of 2014 list and received this review from All About Jazz: "Shape-shifting tunes, influences from all over the globe, superb musicianship, layered percussions, an inspired two reed front line rising up from those ebullient layerings, and an ensemble groove of the highest order make Ugandan Suite one of the year's highlights." Salles' previous CD, Departure, was on Downbeat's Best CDs of 2013 list. Salles' Northeastern Suite is being performed by the UMass Wind Ensemble at the New England Saxophone Festival, April 14, 2018.


Jazz Alumni News:

Alto saxophonist Libby Richman '76 performed in the New York City area with her jazz group (including her husband John Philpott) at Wave Hill Garden and Cultural Center, Bronx, as part of the BxIndie Music at Sunset concert series.  She celebrated Women's History Month with a concert at The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT.

Fantasia on an Ellington Theme by Rick Hirsch '92 was performed by the 2013 All-State Jazz Ensembles in Arizona and Kentucky; his work Free Food? was played at the 2013 Pennsylvania All-State Jazz Ensemble. His Mirage won First Prize in the 2015 Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble Composition Contest, professional division (listen at www.RickHirschJazz.com). He also conducted the 2015 Delaware All-State Jazz Band. Keep in touch!
Rick Hirsch 2015

Jonathan Mele ’93, MM’95 plays in and around New York City, including gigs with Dave Lalama and backing the late Joan Rivers.  He recorded and mixed tracks at his studio for the band Brewster and singer Jerry Costanzo.  In Spain, he played in Seville and Cadiz with Carlos Bermudo ’93 and presented a drumset masterclass at the Andalusia Center for Contemporary Art's Monastery of Cartuja in Seville.

David Pope '95, saxophonist and composer, was named Distinguished Teacher of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University  for 2012-13.  He has been on the faculty since 2000 and recently presented a recital at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Tony Lechner ’93, MM ’97 released Under the Midnight Stars (The Rosewood Project), an album of original jazz compositions. The album features fellow UMass alumni Jon Fisher, Alec Derian, and Ross Bellenoit, as well as pianist Miro Sprague and vocalist Rose Detmold. Several songs from the album have won Lechner international recognition as a songwriter:
For Oscar:  2012 Grand Prize, Jazz (John Lennon Songwriting Contest)
Mocha Maya:  2011 ‘Lennon Award for Jazz’ (John Lennon Songwriting Contest) 
     & 2011 Grand Prize, Instrumental (Billboard World Song Contest)
Midnight Stars:  2010 Grand Prize, Jazz (Billboard World Song Contest)
Partiste:  placed in the 2010 Paramount Pictures release Dinner for Schmucks

Big Boss, a new CD by composer and jazz guitarist Charlie Apicella ’01, released on the ZOHO label, reveals his jazz-funk style with his band Iron City.  One of his lessons was published in Downbeat.

Ibeji, a CD by Paul Lieberman MM'08 , appeared on several Best of 2011 lists including Jon Garelick's of the Boston Phoenix. He received twin nominations on the website Latin Jazz Corner, for Brazilian Jazz Album of the Year and Latin Jazz Flutist of the Year. His music received outstanding reviews on Step Tempest and Jazz Times. All About Jazz said: stunning, heartfelt, and emotional. Lieberman, [who] is a soulful player on any instrument, conveying deep emotional content... demonstrates his instrumental mastery and reveals himself as a formidable composer. Paul Lieberman

Alex Lee-Clark MM’10 won the Ithaca College Jazz Composition Competition in the College/Pro category for his work Rolo Tomassi.