Emory Jazz Alliance 2017-2018: An Update

Dear Jazz Friends and Emory Jazz Alliance Members,

As we enter the 2017-18 academic year at Emory, it is worthwhile to look back and see where the Emory Jazz Alliance has been and where it is going.

The Emory Jazz Alliance was created to support Emory student jazz education, both student and professional jazz performances, and community outreach.

This newsletter includes an update on each of those elements, so read on! We are also thrilled to announce that Professor Gary Motley, Director of Jazz Studies, was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Emory student jazz education

Jazz Studies Banner

Professor Gary Motley, Director of Jazz Studies at Emory University, has worked very hard with his jazz affiliates to provide a creative and supportive atmosphere for those Emory students interested in jazz performance. For the 2017-18 year, over 90% of the students are enrolled in individual music lessons in addition to the class training. This is a great improvement and reflects Mr. Motley’s devotion to excellence in education. This year, the Emory Jazz Alliance will use its donations for help pay for a portion of the individual music lessons through student scholarships. You can help support these scholarships by making a gift.

The Strickland Jazz Studio, through a generous naming gift and continued gifts to the Emory Jazz Alliance, is now one of the best in the country. Over the summer, dramatic improvements were made to the electronics, recording equipment, hard drives, sound shaping, and speakers used in the Studio. The new Yamaha N3 Avant Grand piano accurately reproduces musical notations written by the students and can also convert actual playing in real time to musical notations viewed over the new SmartBoard.

A second room was added to the Studio directly next door. Recording connections to the new room enable more isolated recording of vocals and individual instruments. Also, with a second room, students can practice on Tuesday leaving Thursday free for jam sessions, individual improvisation, and practice with the SmartBoard. State-of-the-art recording equipment enables the students to review their performance progress in real time: and to share their progress with their friends and family.


Emory jazz students perform on a regular basis for the public. Free performances on the Patterson Green located between the Emory Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts and Goizueta Business School will take place at 6:00 PM on April 12 and April 26, 2018.

Emory Big Band performances at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts at 8:00 PM include:

  • February 10, 2018
    • Emory Big Band and Emory Chamber Strings with the Gary Motley Trio (Emory Jazz Fest 2018)
  • April 24, 2018
    • Emory Big Band

There are several visiting artist performances of note for the 2015-2016 season. Read on to learn more about the artists.

  • March 5, 2018 Emmet Cohen Jazz Trio Master class

Looking Back

During the summer of 2015, Gary Motley and four students from the Emory Jazz Studies Program traveled to Colombia, South America for 2 weeks of jazz performance. The trip was sponsored by the US Embassy and The Centro Colombo Americano in Medellin, a nonprofit organization that promotes human and social development through academic and multicultural experiences between Colombia, the US and other countries.

The trip enabled the students to improve their skills through daily performances. Professor Motley said the students performed at a very high level and were judged to the most proficient among the other groups. The Emory Jazz Alliance is proud of their achievements. You can read a full update on the trip later in the newsletter.

Students from jazz programs at local junior high and high schools are invited to participate in jazz clinics sponsored by the Emory Jazz Studies Program. Anat Cohen and the Gary Motley Trio will participate in a jazz clinic in February as a part of the 2016 Emory Jazz Fest.

The Future

Please continue your support of the Emory Jazz Alliance so that we can offer scholarship support for individual jazz lessons for Emory jazz students. Your generous donations enable improvements to the program and entice new students to experience jazz at Emory. To make a gift, visit the website here.

Your love of jazz can support the future of jazz and its performers through the jazz academic program at Emory.

Henry Siegelson

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Newport Jazz Festival 2017

Each year, I make a point to attend the Newport Jazz Festival.  I continued this annual pilgrimage with a high school band mate of at least eleven years prior to my assignment as a resident physician at Emory University Hospital.  The long hours of internal medicine residency do not permit much time for reflection, let alone conversation about the arts.  I was permitted some much-needed vacation time to attend the “grandfather of all jazz festivals” in my home state of Rhode Island.

My time at the festival started with seeing Jason Palmer’s Berklee Septet at the festival’s main stage.  Having majored in music as an undergraduate student at Emory, I was completely blown away by the maturity of these undergraduate students.  While Palmer contributed to some of the compositions performed by the group, the septet went out with a bang with an original tune written by the group’s pianist, Domitille Degalle.

Another highlight of Saturday included Christian McBride’s Big Band.  Christian had recently taken the reigns from the illustrious George Wein to become the acting manager of the Newport Jazz Festival.  He has no doubt taken ownership of the festival, dominating the stage but dropping out on tunes such as “Black Narcissus,” surprising the crowd with an arrangement he had performed on a legendary recording with the late Joe Henderson in 1996.  It’s always interesting to gauge the overall feel of an audience, as either a performer or audience member.  The quiet energy geared into this tune by the ensemble caused what was a loud, if not boisterous, crowd to become hushed and entirely at the will of the band.

Benny Golson has always been something of a story teller at his sets, sharing the genius behind his creative process on the writing of songbook pieces such as “I Remember Clifford.”  I was first exposed to this line of storytelling as a freshman at Emory, when Mr. Golson shared with us stories from his childhood involving a young John Coltrane just learning to play the tenor saxophone.  Golson’s honesty in these stories was disarming.  “I never thought this song would make it, because, trust me, you don’t wake up every day telling yourself ‘I’m going to write a classic today.’”  At the age of 88, his playing remains as sharp as ever.  In the words of trumpeter Lester Bowie, “Jazz is neither specific repertoire, nor academic exercise… but a way of life.”  Golson reveals the substance that this art form has brought to his life.

With the old also came a mix of new, with Snarky Puppy (a funky, atmospheric, jam-band-like ensemble) and the Roots (of Jimmy Fallon lore) closing out Sunday’s festival day.  While these newer ensembles are exciting, if not outside of the realm of jazz, Newport never ceases to impress while remaining true to its origins as a purist’s festival, showcasing young lions while providing an inter-generational forum through which the young and old can both appreciate this under-appreciated art.

-Rob Heinl

[Rob Heinl, MD (Emory BS ’11) is an internal medicine resident currently practicing at Emory University Hospital.  He is an avid jazz listener and an alto saxophonist in the Emory Big Band.]

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Carl Allen Drum Clinic: The Drummer’s Commitment

Jazz musicians aren’t known for getting up early in the morning— typically as nighttime performers, they’ve been plying their craft until the wee hours. But when a special event compels them, they rise to the occasion, as was the case on the morning of Saturday Feb. 11. A captivated audience comprised of drummers (music students, educators and professionals) and jazz fans enjoyed a 2-hour drum clinic at Emory Music Dept.’s rehearsal studio featuring renowned jazz drummer Carl Allen. Mr. Allen, who has more than 200 recordings to his credit over a three decade career, was scheduled to perform that evening with saxophonist Teodross Avery’s quartet as part of the annual Emory Jazz Fest, sponsored by the Jazz Studies program in conjunction with the EJA (Emory Jazz Alliance).

Mr. Allen started with a drum solo and then provided his comprehensive view of the drummer’s role within the jazz performance, which he summarized as “Owning The Music,”by which he means to take full responsibility for knowing the history of the music, practice and teamwork with the other members of the band to produce a consistently great performance each time the drummer plays.

Another section of his discussion highlighted 7 Elements of Great Drumming: Time, Feel/Pulse, Dynamics (the range of volume of playing), Reading (music charts), Concept/Style (the choice of how to play a music piece), Balance (playing appropriately with other musicians) and Musical Aptitude (Choices). He spoke in detail on each of these points and also provided a methodology of how to practice appropriately. Mr. Allen also invited up some drummers in the audience to play for him, providing helpful pointers on areas of improvement, and chastised those drummers in the audience who did not bring their stick bag, which is, as Mr. Allen called it, “your toolkit. If you consider yourself a dedicated drummer, you have to have your toolkit with you at all times—you never know when you will have to play during a given day.”

An excellent speaker and caring individual, Mr. Allen graciously gave his time and talents to “pay it forward” for all the instruction and assistance he has received over the years, from some of the greatest names in jazz drumming history whom Mr. Allen knew personally.  Since jazz music is as much an oral tradition as it is written, Mr. Allen is acutely aware that current performers must cultivate and nurture the talent of tomorrow, otherwise the art form cannot thrive in the music continuum. Carl Allen does his part and takes his responsibility seriously; it is obvious why he is a top talent in today’s jazz world. Everyone in the audience at the Emory Jazz Rehearsal studio felt– and was inspired by– his deep commitment to jazz music.

–Henry Brent

[Originally from NYC, EJA member Henry is a lifelong jazz fan, recording collector, instructor and drummer on Atlanta’s jazz scene]

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Professor Gary Motley Inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

It was a thrill to represent the Emory Jazz Alliance and the Emory jazz community as Professor Gary Motley was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.  Guests enjoyed a reception where there was an opportunity to meet all of the inductees prior to the ceremony.  There was also time to visit the jazz museum which is unique in its depiction of many jazz greats from the state of Alabama and their association with some of the greatest names in jazz.Motley - AJHOF induction

The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is located in downtown Birmingham at The Carver Theater. Built in 1935 in the historic 4th Avenue Business District, it was a popular venue for both regional and national jazz artists including such jazz legends as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. The City of Birmingham began the renovation of the facility as a performing arts theatre and the new home of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum in 1990.

Others honored in the induction ceremony included trombonist Fred Wesley Jr., bandleader for James Brown and composer, conductor and arranger Marion Evans-whose credits range from the Glenn Miller Orchestra to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Previous inductees include Sun Ra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, W.C. Handy, and Dinah Washington.

The ceremony concluded with a phenomenal performance from 12-year-old Grammy-nominated pianist Joey Alexander.  The evening was a befitting recognition of the achievements of Motley and the other inductees, celebrating the legacy of jazz while reinvigorating our perception of the genre as a unique American musical entity with a grand future.

Hank Siegelson

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Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen joins Gary Motley Trio for Jazz Fest 2016

Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. CoheAnat Cohenn will join the Gary Motley Trio in concert on Friday night of Emory Jazz Fest 2016. Motley’s ensemble will also feature bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Sean Dobbins.
The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre. More

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Julian Bliss Septet comes to Emory

Julian Bliss Septet: A Tribute to Benny Goodman, Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 8 p.m.
One of the world’s finest solo clarinetists, Julian Bliss leads his septet through some of the great tunes of the swing era off their debut disc, “Benny Goodman ­– The King of Swing” as part of the 2016 Emory Annual Jazz Fest. The skillful septet stays true to the genre’s authentic feel, while adding their own modern twist. For ticket info.

Julian Bliss is one of the world’s finest clarinettists excelling as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, jazz artist, masterclass leader and tireless musical explorer.  He has inspired a generation of young players as guest lecturer and creator of his Leblanc Bliss range of affordable clarinets, and introduced a substantial new audience to his instrument.   Born in the U.K., Julian started playing the clarinet age 4, going on to study in the U.S. at the University of Indiana and in Germany under Sabine Meyer.   The breadth and depth of his artistry are reflected in the diversity and distinction of his work.  Read more.

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Jazz Studies Studio B Added

Jazz Studies Studio BEmory Jazz Studies students began the fall 2015 semester with the addition of a second studio classroom/rehearsal space. The new facility, known as Studio B will be used for combo rehearsals, percussion instruction and as an auxiliary recording suite. Studio B-which is adjacent to the Strickland Jazz Studio is connected to the master suite via a multi-channel patch bay, also allowing it to be used as an isolation room for recording and production. The new addition makes it possible for simultaneous rehearsals to occur and other program activities as needed.

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Sixth University Jazz Festival Review

Medellín – Colombia (South America)UJF_180_span3

Review by Christian Salgado, Medellin Jazz Club

The Sixth University Jazz Festival ended last Friday, June 19 in the city of Medellin. This event, organized by Centro Colombo Americano Medellin and Asociación Medellín Cultural, is dedicated to highlighting future masters and artists and the diverse manifestations in the academic world of Jazz. During the entire week, outreach activities were held in conjunction with the Festival —Jazz Camps for young talented musicians, Jazz en mi Barrio, taking this American art form to the far out neighborhoods of the UVA (Unidad de Vida Articulada), with the clear message that Jazz is for everyone and anyone can enjoy it without social or economic prejudice. We celebrate initiatives like these! Read more about the Emory Jazz Quartet

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2015 Emory Jazz Festival

Thank you to all of you who attended the 2015 Emory Jazz Festival. All three nights of the festival were completely sold out: standing room only.

Irvin Mayfield and his exceptional group of remarkable musicians, the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, thoroughly entertained the regulars and visitors from the Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series. Bob McKay, the Managing Director of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, coordinated a rousing jazz addition to the Candler Concert Series.

For two nights, the Gary Motley Trio, featuring Motley on piano along with bassist Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen, showed the enthusiastic and appreciative Emory audience how professionals interpret jazz communication and performance.

On the first night, the trio accompanied one of the best jazz violinists of our age, Regina Carter. Ms. Carter demonstrated her mastery of interpretation and creativity as she impressed the full house with her ability to bring life to traditional and new tunes.

On Saturday night, an overflowing crowd required a second row of chairs in the balcony. The Trio performed new music from Gary Motley’s recent CD, Departure with assistance from vocalist Alex Lattimore. The Emory Big Band blew the roof off and brought the full house to their feet! The Big Band demonstrated the technical prowess and personal gifts of the Emory students as well as the successful efforts of the Emory Jazz Studies program to teach and prepare them to perform on such a high level.

Gary Motley, director of the Emory Jazz Studies program, and his staff continue to focus on improving and fine tuning the student experience to enable growth and improved performance. This work requires and deserves your financial support. Please join the Emory Jazz Alliance as we continue to promote and support student education, live performance, and community outreach. A gift from you will pay huge dividends for the students in the Emory Jazz Studies program. If you have joined in the past, consider increasing your level of support. If you have been sitting on the sidelines, consider joining now so that you can help continue the good work of the Jazz Studies Program and join the greater Emory Arts Community.

You know you love jazz music. You know you love hearing interesting and intriguing jazz performances on the Emory campus. Go to the Emory Jazz Alliance web site today to make sure that jazz remains at Emory forever!


Hank Siegelson
President, Emory Jazz Alliance

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Concert and Events: Spring 2015

In his poem Today, poet, Billy Collins noted: “If ever there were a spring day so perfect…”

Well, today the air is warm, tulip and cherry trees are alive with color, and a perfect spring is on the horizon. It is a time to plan for jazz. Luckily, Jazz Studies has several outdoor and indoor events on the calendar. All events and activities are free (no ticket required) and open to the public.

March 31

  • Emory Jazz Combos Concert
    • Spring concert featuring the Tuesday/Thursday combos
    • 8 PM at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Emerson Concert Hall
      1700 North Decatur Road, Atlanta, GA 30322

April 9, 23

  • Jazz on the Green
    • Bring your chairs and blankets, sit on the grass or on provided tables, have a picnic and enjoy Jazz on the Green with the Emory Jazz Combos.
    • 6 PM – 7 PM
    • Patterson Green (located behind the Schwartz Center)
      Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, 1700 North Decatur Road, Atlanta, GA 30322

April 21

  • Emory Big Band Concert with Joe Chambers, 8 PM: Schwartz Center
    • Master class 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM (Emerson Concert Hall)

This year’s spring big band concert will feature the legendary Joe Chambers: jazz drummer, pianist, vibraphonist and composer. In the 1960s and 70s Chambers performed with several high-profile artists including Eric DolphyCharles MingusLou DonaldsonChick CoreaFreddie HubbardJimmy Giuffre and Bobby Hutcherson. Other artists Joe Chambers has worked with in his career include Andrew HillArchie SheppMiles DavisDavid MurrayJoe HendersonFranck Amsallem and Max Roach. He has been a member of several incarnations of Roach’s M’Boom percussion ensemble. A master class will be held on Tuesday afternoon April 21 from 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM in Emerson Concert Hall.

Evening performance, 8 PM: Schwartz Center. Mr. Chambers will perform with Gary Motley, The Emory Jazz Professors (Emory Jazz Faculty), and the Emory Big Band. The class and performance are free and open to the public.

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