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A Merger In Jazz Education

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A musical merger of higher education has been established at the last university to include jazz into their curriculum—UCLA. Jazz Studies, under Director/guitarist Dr. Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell
Kenny Burrell
b.1931
guitar
, The Herb Alpert
Herb Alpert
Herb Alpert
b.1935
trumpet
School of Music , and the Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
Institute, guided by Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, have all joined jazztistical bonds in providing not only jazz but all-around musical learning for all students seeking the realms of higher educational degrees in music.

Jazz education was brought to UCLA when Burrell started teaching "Ellingtonia," a class on Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
in 1978—"It was Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
who turned my ear to the inner sound of Ellington; he was one of my heroes that really succeeded in the music business," Burrell stated. "Number one, he was a jazz musician and an African American, a citizen of the world, a role model, a great businessman. He is American many times over." Burrell presented the idea to Dr. Claudia Mitchell Kernan, Director of the Center on Afro-American Studies. With his brainchild, the guitarist taught for 18 years, until UCLA created the Jazz Studies Program in 1996, appointing him Director. By this time, he was a world-renowned performer and recording artist on the Blue Note and Verve labels, with artists including John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
Jimmy Smith
1925 - 2005
organ, Hammond B3
and Stanley Turrentine
Stanley Turrentine
Stanley Turrentine
1934 - 2000
sax, tenor
.

The creation of a Jazz Studies Program was the realization of a goal he'd set for himself while studying music in the 1950s. "When I was in college, I was disturbed by the fact that jazz was not getting legitimate attention like other forms of music," he recalls. "I made a pledge to myself that if I ever had the chance, I would try to do something to help solve that problem. The Jazz Studies Program offers graduates a diverse range of activities, including careers and graduate studies in jazz performance, composition, arranging, research and teaching, as well as becoming great musicians." Burrell went on to say, "with 'Ellingtonia,' I would not only be teaching the students about jazz, but giving them an example of a role model who they could learn lessons from, even if they weren't in music."

Burrell's staff has included Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
1918 - 2014
composer/conductor
, Garnett Jnr Brown, the late Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
Billy Higgins
1936 - 2001
drums
and Harold Land
Harold Land
Harold Land
1928 - 2001
sax, tenor
, Billy Childs
Billy Childs
Billy Childs
b.1957
piano
, Ruth Price
Ruth Price
Ruth Price
b.1938
, Barbara Morrison
Barbara Morrison
Barbara Morrison

vocalist
, and Dr. Bobby Rodriguez. Added to his list of jazz activities is his leadership of the philanthropic David L. Abell "Friends of Jazz," whose focus is saluting seasoned pianists with The Duke Ellington Award for Excellence, inviting them to UCLA for interviews and playing before members. Past honorees have been Randy Weston
Randy Weston
Randy Weston
b.1926
piano
, Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
Cedar Walton
1934 - 2013
piano
, Barry Harris
Barry Harris
Barry Harris
b.1929
piano
, Hank Jones
Hank Jones
Hank Jones
1918 - 2010
piano
, Harold Mabern
Harold Mabern
Harold Mabern
b.1936
piano
, and George Cables
George Cables
George Cables
b.1944
piano
.

Trumpeter Herb Alpert's Foundation contributed an enormous amount to the Ethnomusicology departments in 2007, establishing the Herb Alpert School of Music and underwriting all music endeavors at UCLA. Alpert became a music philanthropist when, in 1988, he connected with the Harlem School of Music, coming to its rescue in 2010 when it was about to close by donating $500,000 to keep the doors open. "I didn't want to make it [UCLA School of Music] a lopsided music school," Alpert explained. "It's full-serviced, classical, ethnic music and jazz—the works."

Closely associated with The Monk Institute for years, he was able to bring it to UCLA by providing graduate level studies. Herbie Hancock, Chairman of The Institute and longtime champion of Jazz Studies at UCLA stated, "the Monk Institute 's program will provide students access to UCLA's unusually wide and varied curriculum—from courses in music business and technology to film scoring and global musical traditions—it represents the future of Jazz. Jazz has always functioned as a strong bridge between people of different cultures and different ethnicities." In addition to Hancock, The Institute will include lecturers Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, T.S. Monk
T.S. Monk
T.S. Monk
b.1949
drums
, and James Newton
James Newton
James Newton
b.1953
.

Newton reiterates that UCLA's jazz program both benefit from its new association with an institute named for the father of modern jazz piano and adds, "There's a responsibility that comes with the name Thelonious Monk. He's one of the highest models I can think of for students as they move through the process of discovering themselves and learning about the nobility of the music."

"I think jazz is the perfect art form, explains Alpert. "It's speaking for people all over the world—look at what's happening in the Middle East, people looking for freedom and self-expression—that's what jazz is all about."

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