The University of
Pittsburgh's Annual Seminar on Jazz is an experience that combines
the best in scholarship, performance, community
involvement, cultural diversity, and musicianship. This four-day
event is a true celebration devoted to the teaching, performing,
and documenting of one of America's most original art forms
jazz. For over 30 years, the University, through the efforts
of renowned jazz musician and educator, Nathan Davis, has been
the world's greatest jazz innovators to the city in the role
of visiting "professors."
A roll call of just
a few of the participants who have lectured and performed at
the Annual Seminar represent the greatest names
in American jazz history. They include: Art Blakey, Clark Terry,
Dizzy Gillespie, Jim Hall, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Clarke, John
Lewis, "Toots" Thielmans, Milt Jackson, Herbie Mann, Grover
Washington, Jr., and Art Farmer, among many others.
The performers' enthusiasm for this annual event has been well
documented. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
(November 13. 1992), Grover Washington., Jr., noted that:
"I sincerely hope
that your jazz community has a deep appreciation for what's
been going on at the University of Pittsburgh over
all these years... everyone agrees that coming to the Pitt
seminar is an absolute joy... a joy not only in performing
other musicians we really never get a chance to work with,
but also sharing our experiences with others in a truly intimate
one-on-one kind of setting."
In another Tribune Review (October 29, 1993) story, guest
artist Randy Brecker praised the work of Pitt professor Nathan
Davis in organizing the annual event.
"He knows we're (the jazz
artists) all good friends who never get a chance to work with
each other.... the electricity of this all-star Band is so great
and the feelings so loose that the spontaneity on that stage
is comparable to the best jam sessions you can find anywhere
In the world."
scholars and historians of jazz also participate in the programs.
Some recent invitees include Leonard Feather, author of The
Encyclopedia of Jazz; Dr. George Butler, Senior Vice
President of Columbia Records; Mike Hennessey, editor and
former bureau chief of Billboard Magazine, London,
International lecturers have included Indian historian Niranjan
Jhavcri, and Dionizy Piatkowski, a jazz historian from Poland.
master is responsible for the content and direction of their
own lecture presentation. Seminars usually attract a wide
variety of individuals including local high school students,
senior citizens, professional musicians, college students,
and faculty members. Attendees learn directly from the musicians;
they hear "first hand" about the lives and career development
of performers; and they learn by listening to the jazz masters'
music, performed live. For the musicians, the Seminar provides
an opportunity for personal expression other than through
the performance of their music.