Maynard Ferguson: Gonna Fly Now
Sadly, we have one more death to report, that of John Garvey, professor emeritus of music and founder/director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Illinois. Prof. Garvey died of a heart attack on July 18 at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was eighty-five years old. Following the UI Jazz Ensemble's appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1968, John S. Wilson wrote in The New York Times: "The Illinois band, directed by John Garvey, not only matched the professionals in its ensemble and solo work, but its arrangements, written by students, were far more varied and imaginative than the generally cut-and-dried orchestrations of the professional bands."
Alumni of Garvey's program at UI include trumpeters Cecil Bridgewater and Jim Knapp; saxophonists Kim Richmond, the late Joe Farrell, Howie Smith, Ron DeWar and Eric Schneider; pianists Jim McNeely, Mike Kocour and Ron Elliston; bassists Kelly Sill and Jon Burr, drummers Charlie Braugham and Joel Spencer, and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Garvey was known as the Godfather of Chicago's Jazz Members Big Band, whose founder/director, trombonist Jeff Lindberg, is another UI alum.
Garvey, who was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, on March 17, 1921, left Temple University after three years to play violin and viola with the Jan Savitt Orchestra. In 1943, he was invited to become principal violist of the Columbus, Ohio, Philharmonic, even though he'd had no previous full-time orchestral experience, and in 1948, at age twenty-seven, accepted a position as Professor of Viola at the University of Illinois where he was a member of the renowned Walden String Quartet, then in residence at UI. Although a classical performer and educator, he never lost his enthusiasm for jazz, and in 1960 succeeded in establishing the UI Jazz Band, which quickly established its credentials by earning first-place honors at the prestigious Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1967-68-69.
In addition to the Jazz Band and Jazz Studies program, Garvey founded the highly successful and popular UI Russian Folk Orchestra in 1974 and was its conductor until his retirement in 1991. Although the folk orchestra no longer exists, the jazz program continues under the leadership of former Maynard Ferguson saxophonist Chip McNeill, boasting seven full-time Jazz faculty with degrees offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. In 2004, the John Garvey Scholarship in Jazz Studies was established at UI.
And that's it for now. Until next time, keep swingin'!
New and Noteworthy
1. Brian Pastor Big Band, Common Men (BPO Music)
2. Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Waves From The Vanguard (Dragon)
3. Chris Walden Big Band, No Bounds (Origin)
4. Kit McClure Big Band, Just The Thing (Red Hot Records)
5. Pete Cater Big Band, The Right Time (Vocalion)
6. Various Big Bands, Kenton Portraits (Tantara)
7. Bob Brookmeyer / New Art Orchestra, Spirit Music (ArtistShare)
8. Howard University Jazz Ensemble, HUJE 2005 (HUJE)
9. David Berger and the Sultans of Swing, Hindustan (Such Sweet Thunder)
10. John C. Smith & the Pecos River Brass, What A Wonderful World (PRB)
11. Rolf von Nordenskjold Orchestra, Berlin Sketchbook (Jazzhaus)
12. University of Illinois Concert Jazz Band, Get Here Sooner (UIJB)
13. Peter Welker, Duke, Billy And Tadd (Peachy Productions)
14. Nancie Banks Orchestra, Out Of It (GFI Records)
15. Bob Mintzer / Interamnia Jazz Orchestra, IJO (Splasch)