Jazz Studies’ Dave Schroeder Gears up for NYU Jazz Festival 2012

Next week, the NYU Steinhardt Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions will host the New York University Jazz Festival featuring renowned artists and faculty, and students from Steinhardt’s Jazz Studies Program. Dave Schroeder, director of the program, talks about NYU’s upcoming celebration of jazz music.

What is the NYU Jazz Festival?

Then New York University Jazz Festival 2012 is a series of performances around Greenwich Village featuring Steinhardt Jazz Studies students, artist and faculty and special guest artists.  Through this festival, we are demonstrating our connection to the rich jazz history that has been central to Greenwich Village for decades.

There are a number of influential musicians, composers, and artists that are participating in this year’s festival. Can you tell us more about people like Sy Johnson and Kenny Werner?

Legendary composer and arranger Sy Johnson has arranged music for Charles Mingus and Count Basie, to name a few. He has been on the jazz scene as a pianist and writer for more than 60 years.  Mr. Johnson is also known for his important photographs capturing classic jazz artists in performance.  Many of these photo will be presented during his performance including shots of Mingus, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. Internationally acclaimed pianist and composer Kenny Werner has performed with jazz greats Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Rufus Reid, Jaki Byard, Mel Lewis, Bob Brookmeyer, Ron Carter, Joe Williams, Sonny Fortune, Peter Erskine, John Abercrombie, Bobby McFerrin, Lee Konitz, Marian McPartland, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, Toots Thielemans and Joe Lovano among others.  Kenny’s book, Effortless Master- Liberating the Musician Within, has placed him in great demand as a clinician and teacher worldwide. He’s also a recipient of the Guggenheim Award.

Of all of the events taking place during the festival, what event do you think Steinhardt and NYU students should really make an effort to attend?

Our most important event is the May 4th performance at the Skirball Center.  This performance will feature the NYU Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band comprised of Steinhardt jazz studies students and featuring legendary composer and arranger Sy Johnson. Also, the Steinhardt Artists-in-Residence Ensemble Combo Nuvo will be featured with the Jazz Orchestra in a set of their original music. Artist Ellen Colcord, another Steinhardt alumnus, will present a multimedia video presentation “City Scapes” along the performance.

How did you come to fall in love with jazz music?

As a young child, I was attracted to jazz by discovering my father’s record collection.  While students at NYU are older than I when first bitten by the jazz bug, I hope that they will stop for a moment to listen and maybe take away a new appreciation for jazz music and the world of expression and beauty that it holds.