The William Paterson University Jazz Room series, the longest-running program of its kind in the United States, is celebrating its 40th anniversary of presenting performances by the top luminaries in jazz on the University’s Wayne, New Jersey campus.
Launched in 1978, the Jazz Room has welcomed nearly 500 jazz legends to the stage, including Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Joe Williams, Marian McPartland, Slide Hampton, Kenny Burrell, Joe Lovano, Kenny Garrett, Clark Terry, Michael and Randy Brecker, the Vanguard Orchestra, and more. Concerts have encompassed the entire spectrum of jazz, from early jazz and swing to avant garde, and from intimate solo performances to big bands. The performance series provides support for the University’s internationally renowned Jazz Studies Program, founded in 1973, which draws students from across the United States and abroad under the current direction of pianist Bill Charlap.
The fall Jazz Room celebrates the 40th anniversary season with a special WP Jazz Orchestra concert paying tribute to works by current and former William Paterson composers on November 5. The Nancy Marano Quartet will kick off the season on October 8, followed by saxophonist Melissa Aldana on October 22. The Barry Harris Quartet will feature saxophonist Larry McKenna on November 12 and the Horacee Arnold Trio with bassist Buster Williams holds sway on December 3. The fall Jazz Room season will close with a holiday celebration featuring the WP Jazz Orchestra and special guests performing portions of The Nutcracker Suite and holiday tunes arranged for popular jazz vocalists.
The Nancy Marano Quartet led by celebrated New York vocalist and William Paterson jazz faculty member Nancy Marano opens the season on Sunday, October 8 at 4 p.m. Marano will lead her quartet through a program of her arrangements of American popular standards and jazz. Her quartet features fellow William Paterson jazz faculty bassist Steve LaSpina, William Paterson jazz alumnus, pianist Billy Test, and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm.
The Chilean international saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform on Sunday, October 22 at 4 p.m. Aldana is the first female saxophonist to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk Competition. She will perform music that combines her South American musical roots with swing and modern jazz harmonies. She has performed on the large stages of many of the world’s great jazz festivals, and in the intimate confines of some of New York’s legendary clubs.
On Sunday, November 5 at 4 p.m., the WP Jazz Orchestra will perform works by current and former University composers to celebrate the four-decade series. Works by Rufus Reid, Cecil Bridgewater, Jim McNeely, Pete McGuinness, Bill Mobley, and founding director Thad Jones will be featured. Special guest artists will be on hand for solos.
The Barry Harris Quartet takes the stage with saxophonist Larry McKenna on Sunday, November 12 at 4 p.m. The 87-year-old Harris displays his more than seven-decade study of the classic bebop jazz style developed by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and others. Harris has made numerous trio recordings under his own name and appeared as an in-demand sideman with Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley and countless others.
Drummer Horacee Arnold, a senior member of the William Paterson jazz faculty, and his trio will be joined by bassist Buster Williams on Sunday, December 3 at 4 p.m. Drummer Max Roach brought Arnold to New York, along with Tony Williams, in the late fifties. Arnold later performed with Chick Corea on the jazz fusion album and tour Return to Forever. The concert will showcase Arnold’s illustrious career.
A special Jazz Room Holiday Celebration with the WP Jazz Orchestra and special guests is set for Saturday, December 9 at 8 p.m. The concert will feature several movements from the legendary Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn version of The Nutcracker Suite, and arrangements of the season from the repertoire of Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, and the New York Voices’ Darmon Meader.
All performances will take place in the Shea Center for Performing Arts on campus and Sunday afternoon concerts begin at 4 p.m.; the holiday concert on Saturday, December 9 will begin at 8 p.m. Sunday concerts are preceded by “Sittin’ In,” informal jazz talks with the afternoon’s artists, at 3 p.m. in Shea Center 101, which are free to all Jazz Room ticketholders. Sunday afternoon concerts begin with a performance by a William Paterson student jazz ensemble. Admission to all concerts is $15 standard; $12 for senior citizens; and $8 for students. For more information, contact the Shea Center Box Office at 973-720-2371 or visit www.wppresents.org .
Funding for the Jazz Room at William Paterson University has been made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State.
William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road
Wayne, New Jersey 07470