From the smoke-filled jazz clubs of New England, several distinguished musicians are coming this weekend to fill Yale’s campus with music.
Hosted and organized by the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective, the third annual “Jazz Festival at Yale,” will feature five professional jazz acts and several talks that focus on the role of jazz in contemporary culture. Student musicians interviewed said the festival also aims to demonstrate that there is a vibrant and growing jazz scene on campus.
“I wanted to start a process that would start a jazz program that would ultimately mirror the classical program,” said Julian Reid ’13, a co-founder of the festival and a YUJC board member from 2011 to 2013.
On Saturday in Sudler Hall, Japanese-born and Brooklyn-based trumpeter Takuya Kuroda will be followed by soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom MUS ’77 and her namesake quartet. Bloom is known as a pioneer in the use of live electronics in jazz music, and Kuroda has a reputation for integrating hip-hop and rock elements into his performances. In addition to concerts, the festival will host talks by prominent jazz musicians, as well as by Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, who will speak about the role of jazz in African-American cultural history on Saturday.
YUJC president Alexander Dubovoy ’16 said that while he does not think there is a common musical thread linking all the musicians in the festival, the event tries to promote innovation and tradition as well as education.
“They’re all people who feel really strongly about education and feel strongly about helping audiences understand the music that’s being played,” said Dubovoy.
Reid said he believes the mixing of jazz with other art forms is important, adding that he is looking forward to the festival’s innovative performers because other jazz events on campus, such as the Ellington Concert Series, tend to host more traditional jazz musicians. The YUJC is aiming to offer the audience a glimpse into the current jazz scene, Dubovoy noted.
Another major goal of the festival is to introduce the Yale community to local and regional jazz musicians, Dubovoy said. The 9th Note, a jazz club located on Orange Street, is co-sponsoring the festival.
“A lot of Yalies don’t realize, but there is a great jazz scene in New Haven,” said Dubovoy, adding that The 9th Note hosts a weekly “jam session” that attracts many Yale students.
Christian O’Dowd, owner of The 9th Note, noted that everyone from Yale undergraduates to internationally renowned jazz musicians frequent the club. He added that he thinks the Yale and New Haven jazz communities are beginning to merge. The size of New Haven makes it much easier for students to enter the jazz scene than in New York or Chicago, Reid said.
Max Vinetz ’18 said that while he appreciated the New Haven jazz scene in, he feels it is difficult for Yale students to explore jazz music off-campus.
“Get out of the Yale bubble,” said Reid. “There is money and music to make.”
The YUJC organizes a bi-weekly concert series in the Saybrook Underbrook Theater.