Highlights include: • The Music of Ken Schaphorst and John Medeski
• Jason Moran in The Music of Fats Waller
• Order of the Virtues, a re-interpretation of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum
• Masterclasses with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Medeski, Jason Moran, Dave Holland & Fred Hersch
• In the Mix – 36 one-hour concerts by exceptional student ensembles
New England Conservatory’s internationally renowned Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments announce more than 50 free concerts and master classes for the Spring 2015 season. Highlights include the Order of the Virtues, a re-interpretation of Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th century drama Ordo Virtutum; Jason Moran: The Music of Fats Waller; The Music of Ken Schaphorst and John Medeski; Aaron Hartley and Ran Blake’s annual Film Noir concert; workshops and master classes with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Medeski, Jason Moran, Fred Hersch and Dave Holland; and In the Mix, 36 one-hour concerts featuring exceptional student ensembles coached by Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation department faculty. All concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, log on to: necmusic.edu/jazz or call 617-585-1122.
Concerts at 8 p.m. except where noted. In the Mix events take place at 7, 8 and 9 p.m., each with a different ensemble.
Monday, January 26 — Faculty Spotlight Concert — Jordan Hall
NEC’s celebrated Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation faculty showcase their music. Performing are Ben Schwendener, Mal Barsamian, Jerry Leake, Brian Levy, Rakalam Bob Moses, Nedelka Prescod, Bert Seager, Anthony Coleman, Carla Kihlstedt, Eden MacAdam-Somer and Jason Moran.
Wednesday, January 28 — Gonzalo Rubalcaba Masterclass — Pierce Hall
Thursday, January 29 — Masterclass with Jason Moran — Pierce Hall
Tuesday, February 10 — Masterclass with Fred Hersch — Pierce Hall
Thursday, February 12 — Masterclass with Jason Moran — Pierce Hall
Thursday, February 12 — Jason Moran: The Music of Fats Waller — Brown Hall
NEC Faculty member Jason Moran will present a performance of the music of Fats Waller. In the culmination of his four-day residency, Moran will lead NEC students in the reimagining of Waller’s music, including material drawn from Moran’s acclaimed 2014 Blue Note release, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller, nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.
“Fats Waller is a special kind of provocateur,” says Moran. “It stems mainly from the fact that he was a singer as well as a pianist. Sometimes he was like an MC. It has always amazed me that a pianist whose playing was so deep could sing and keep a running commentary of what was going on around him all at the same time.”
Tuesday, February 17 — Order of the Virtues — Jordan Hall
Contemporary Improvisation students, faculty, and special guests present a concert of struggle and redemption in true Third Stream style, through a re-interpretation of Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th century drama Ordo Virtutum (Order of the Virtues). Drawing on the original score and text, as well as works by Duke Ellington, the Carter Family, and from Sufi zikr and folk traditions from around the world, the performance tells the story of Anima, lost soul of all humanity, who struggles on the brink of damnation as she is courted by the Devil. In her greatest hour of need, she calls out to the Virtues, who sail in and bind the Devil hand and foot.
Recognized as the earliest extant liturgical morality play, the Ordo Virtutum was originally written for and performed by a chorus of 16 women, all members of the cloister established by Hildegard near
Bingen on the Rhine. Its emotional imagery is vibrant and timeless, connecting poignantly with modern existence and our own battles between good and evil, expressed through the powerful story of the Virtues. Renowned fiddler Bruce Molsky performs.
Wednesday, February 25 — Masterclass with John Medeski — Keller Room
Thursday, February 26 — The Music of Ken Schaphorst and John Medeski — Jordan Hall
NEC alum John Medeski returns to his alma mater to play piano and Hammond B3 organ with the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a concert featuring his own music alongside works by Duke Ellington, Rakalam Bob Moses and Ken Schaphorst. Medeski is best known as a member of Medeski Martin & Wood, a group with deep roots at NEC, where Medeski connected with fellow NEC student, Chris Wood, and was introduced to Billy Martin through NEC faculty member Rakalam Bob Moses.
The concert will feature new arrangements of three of Medeski’s compostions – “Otis,” “Querencia” and “Where’s Sly?” – as well as two Ellington compositions that Medeski has recorded, “Blues for New Orleans” and “Chinoiserie.” Ken Schaphorst will direct the NEC Jazz Orchestra in the performance of two of his new pieces, “Two Street” and “Smoke,” both featuring Medeski on the Hammond organ. NEC faculty member Rakalam Bob Moses will join Medeski and the ensemble on his composition “African Violet.”
Tuesday, March 3 — Small Combo Masterclass with Dave Holland — Pierce Hall
Thursday, March 5 — Masterclass with Dave Holland — Pierce Hall
Thursday, March 5 — The Music of Dave Holland — Brown Hall
Visiting artist-in-residence legendary bassist/composer Holland will lead NEC students in a performance of his music.
Tuesday, March 24 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Henrique Eisenmann & Brian Levy
Wednesday, March 25 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Joe Morris
Thursday, March 26 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Bob Nieske & Cecil McBee
Monday, March 30 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Frank Carlberg & John McNeil
Tuesday, March 31 — Beau D’ver Honors Jazz Ensemble& Alfia Quartet Wild Card Ensemble —Jordan Hall
Each year, an audition committee selects a few exceptional students to represent NEC in the Honors Jazz and Wild Card ensembles.
Wednesday, April 1 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Dominique Eade
Thursday, April 2 — Jazz, The Next Generation — Brown Hall
Freshman and sophomore jazz studies majors are featured in these student-organized ensembles.
Monday, April 6 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Frank Carlberg, Anthony Coleman & Bert Seager
Tuesday, April 7— In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by Jerry Bergonzi
Wednesday, April 8 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Ensembles Coached by John Lockwood, Rakalam Bob Moses & Ted Reichman
Thursday, April 9 — Jazz Composers Ensemble & Gospel Ensemble — Brown Hall
Ken Schaphorst coaches performances by NEC jazz students of their own compositions in the Jazz Composer’s Ensemble; Nedelka Prescod’s Gospel Ensemble also performs.
Monday, April 13 — Film Noir Concert: Gaslighting — Jordan Hall
Pianist/composer/improviser Ran Blake and co-producer/trombonist Aaron Hartley present their annual film noir concert. Now an annual NEC tradition in its 10th year, this year’s concert is based on the film “Gaslight.” Students and faculty from NEC’s Contemporary Improvisation department perform along with scenes from the film, creating a real-time original score as they respond to the drama through improvisations, recompositions, and reinterpretations.
Tuesday, April 14 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Interdisciplinary, Middle Eastern Ensembles and Group coached by Joe Morris
Wednesday, April 15 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. American Roots, Jewish Music & Choro Ensembles
Thursday, April 16 — The Music of Gil Evans and Duke Ellington — Jordan Hall
Ken Schaphorst conducts the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a program that includes faculty member Jason Moran performing Ellington’s “New World A-Comin.”
Monday, April 20 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Jazz Non-Majors Ensemble and Ensemble coached by Jason Moran
Tuesday, April 21 — In the Mix — Pierce Hall
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Contemporary Improvisation Non-Majors Ensemble, Survivor’s Breakfast Ensemble & Ensemble coached by Jerry Leake
Tuesday, April 28 — Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra — Jordan Hall
The Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra is devoted to rehearsing and performing works by NEC Jazz Composition students. Coached by pianist/composer and NEC jazz faculty member Frank Carlberg, the ensemble gives its composers the opportunity to learn how to rehearse and conduct a band, as well as have their works heard.
Thursday, April 30 — International Jazz Day — Williams Hall
Tuesday, May 19 — NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra — Jordan Hall
Founded in 2008 by NEC Jazz Studies Department chair Ken Schaphorst, the NEC Youth Jazz Orchestra is the only community jazz orchestra of its kind in the Boston area, open by audition to all musicians high school age or younger. The ensemble strives to give young musicians opportunities to learn and perform together in an environment of high expectations and standards.
NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became President of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur “genius” grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters, and alumni that reads like a who’s who of jazz. Now in its 44th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC’s jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 98 students; 54 undergraduate and 44 graduate students from 14 countries.
Founded in 1972 by musical visionaries Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation program is “one of the most versatile in all of music education” (JazzEd). Now in its 42nd year, the program trains composer/performer/ improvisers to broaden their musical palettes and develop unique voices. It is unparalleled in its structured approach to ear training and its emphasis on singing, memorization, harmonic sophistication, aesthetic integrity, and stylistic openness. Under Blake’s inspired guidance for its first twenty-six years, the program grew considerably and has expanded its offerings under current chair Hankus Netsky and assistant chair Eden MacAdam-Somer. Alumni include Don Byron, John Medeski, Jacqueline Schwab, Aoife O’Donovan and Sarah Jarosz; faculty include Carla Kihlstedt, Blake, Dominique Eade, and Anthony Coleman. “A thriving hub of musical exploration,” (Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe), the program currently has 53 undergrad and graduate students from 16 countries.