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Temple University Students and Faculty Perform at JALC

Christian Wissmuller • News • April 19, 2023

The award-winning Temple University Jazz Band (TUJB) recently announced its return to Jazz at Lincoln Center in a one-night only concert April 16th at 8:00 p.m. Hailed as one of today’s leading jazz student ensembles, TUJB is joined on stage by its sister groups — TU’s Symphony Orchestra and Studio Orchestra—as well as its Faculty Sextet: Terell Stafford, Dick Oatts, Bruce Barth, Tim Warfield, Mike Boone and Justin Faulkner. Program includes the New York premiere of Billy Childs’s Labyrinth, the world premiere of Bill Cunliffe’s Rainforests, Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s energetic Four Dances from Estancia and Banks Sapnar’s Red Braid from the performance that earned the TUJB second place at this year’s Jack Rudin Jazz Championship. In celebration of the school’s latest album release, the Faculty Sextet performs the eponymous track from Fly With the Wind (TBR 4.14.23, BCM&D Records).

After 10 years of performing at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, the 18-member TUJB returns to JALC though this time on the much larger Frederick P. Rose Hall stage and with the 85-member Temple University Symphony Orchestra (TUSO) and the Grammy-nominated Temple University Studio Orchestra. Rivaling professional groups, the Temple University student ensembles have been hailed for their passionate, stellar performances. According to Terell Stafford, Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, this concert is a milestone in Temple University’s history. “For the first time ever, two of Temple’s top instrumental groups as well as jazz faculty members will be performing on one stage in New York City. This is a great way to hear the future of classical and jazz music which rest assured is in good hands!”

The evening’s cornerstones are two commissioned works for TU’s Studio Orchestra by Grammy Award-winning artists. Pianist/composer Bill Cunliffe celebrates one of the world’s most important and special places, Rainforests. This large swinging piece is peppered with Latin rhythms, consistent with Cunliffe’s acclaimed compositional style. Rainforests is the latest collaboration in a decade-long friendship between the composer and Temple University. In 2012, his Overture, Waltz and Rondo was released on Temple’s label, BCM+D Records, featuring Stafford and the TUSO. It awarded Cunliffe a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition. Celebrating its New York premiere is Billy Child’s Labyrinth (2023) featuring Terell Stafford on trumpet and Dick Oatts on saxophone. It receives its world premiere on March 31st at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and will subsequently be recorded there April 17-18 for future 2023 release on BCM&D Records.

Fly With the Wind is the opening track on McCoy Tyner’s 1976 recording of the same name. The album was a milestone in Tyner’s career. It was the pianist’s first recording with strings, and it proved to be one of his most popular titles. At the time, this highly influential conception was an unfamiliar ensemble of piano with strings. It gets an effective arrangement by pianist Bruce Barth for Temple’s Jazz Faculty Sextet. Fly With the Wind is also featured on the Sextet’s latest album of the same name.

The TUSO opens the program with Four Dances from Estancia (1943) by one of the great stars of South American concert music, Argentina’s Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983). Blending indigenous Argentine folk music with the more rigorous elements of European art music, Four Dances from Estancia was extracted from the original ballet score written for American Ballet Caravan. It premiered in Buenos Aires and was an immediate success, and quickly gained popularity on the world stage. Rounding out the evening is Red Braid (2022), a piece written for the TUJB by one of its own members, trumpeter Banks Sapnar.

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