William Paterson University celebrates three decades of summer jazz music on campus from July 17 to 21, 2023, when it presents the 30th Annual Summer Jazz Room, a weeklong series of evening concerts in the Shea Center for the Performing Arts.
This year’s Summer Jazz Room series line-up includes the Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty on July 17, Art Baron and The Duke’s Men on July 18, Big Beat Big Band with Duane and Robin Eubanks on July 19, the Steve LaSpina Reunion on July 20, and Helen Sung’s Big Band & Beyond on July 21.
Concerts begin every evening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for each concert or $40 for a weeklong pass, on sale through July 15. Tickets can be purchased in advance via the online box office ticketing system or in person at the Shea Center Box Office. For tickets, visit wppresents.org or contact the box office at 973.720.2371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Summer Jazz Room coincides with the University’s annual weeklong Summer Jazz Workshop for middle and high school jazz students with Helen Sung as artist-in-residence. The annual concert series, which has drawn thousands of jazz fans to the University’s campus, is designed to make jazz more accessible to the community.
The Summer Jazz Room concert series opens on Monday, July 17 with “30 Does 100: The 30th Anniversary Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty Play the Music of Centennial Jazz Greats.” In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the series and the workshop, the Summer Jazz Workshop Faculty Ensemble pays tribute to a selected group of musicians born in 1923: Milt Jackson, Dexter Gordon, Wes Montgomery, Thad Jones, Fats Navarro, and Sam Rivers. The program will feature selections from the abundant and vital body of work of these great musicians. The ensemble includes Tim Newman, bass trombone; David Demsey, saxophones; Mike LeDonne, piano, Marcus McLaurine, bass; and Jon DiFiore, drums.
On Tuesday, July 18, the music of Duke Ellington lives on in this program featuring trombonist Art Baron and The Duke’s Men. Baron, who joined the Ellington Orchestra during the last year Duke led the band, was the last trombonist Ellington hired. Known for his distinctive musical voice, Baron has performed and/or recorded with a wide spectrum of world-famous musicians such as Buddy Rich, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, James Taylor, IIlinois Jacquet, and Mel Tormé, among countless others. For this performance, Baron leads The Duke's Men, a band comprised of Ellington alumni.
The midweek performance on Wednesday, July 19 features the Big Beat Big Band with Duane and Robin Eubanks. Trombonist, arranger, and band leader Caleb Rumley ’14 and singer Allison McKenzie ’15, WP alumni and partners in life, have been making music with the Big Beat Big Band since 2014. With its funky, groove-filled repertoire, the band has become a regular mainstay of Summer Jazz Room Wednesday night programs. Featured with Big Beat this year are brothers Duane and Robin Eubanks. Trombonist Robin Eubanks has played with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Elvin Jones, Slide Hampton, Dave Holland, Son Ra, Stevie Wonder, and the SF Jazz Collective, and is a founding member of the M-Base cooperative. Trumpeter Duane Eubanks has performed with the Dave Holland Big Band, Mulgrew Miller, Oliver Lake, and the Wu-Tang Clan, among others.
The Steve LaSpina Reunion takes to the Shea Center stage on Thursday, July 20. LaSpina, a longtime WP jazz faculty member, is one of the most respected and versatile bassists in jazz. He has spent years on the road and in recording studios with Stan Getz, Benny Carter, Dave Liebman, Bob Brookmeyer, and Al Cohn, and with singers Morganna King, Suzanna McCorkle, and Chris Conner. He has been one of the most recorded artists on Steeplechase Records since the 1990s. This concert reunites an all-star group which has made 11 recordings together since 1992, and includes alto saxophonist Billy Drews, trumpeter Dave Ballou, pianist Marc Copeland, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield.
The weeklong series concludes on Friday, July 21 with the acclaimed pianist and composer Helen Sung. Her desire to write for larger ensembles received a high-octane boost when she had the opportunity to arrange a piece for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) in 2016. Since then, she has honed her craft at the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, winning the 2022 BMI Charlie Parker Prize for big band composition. Receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2021 afforded her the chance to create Portraits in Jazz, a suite of big band musical tributes to the jazz masters she studied with at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance (now the Herbie Hancock Institute). Sung will unveil her large ensemble, Big Band & Beyond, for WP’s Summer Jazz Room closing concert, presenting selections from Portraits in Jazz and more, including the JLCO arrangement that started it all.
William Paterson University has been a flagship of jazz education for 50 years and is recognized internationally for its Jazz Studies Program and nationally acclaimed Jazz Room Series of concerts each fall and spring.
William Paterson’s 30th annual Summer Jazz Room series is funded, in part, by grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, The National Endowment for the Arts and Mid-Atlantic Arts.
For more information, visit wppresents.org or email email@example.com.
William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road
Wayne, New Jersey 07470