Juilliard Jazzes It Up With New Post-Grad Program

Juilliard Jazz Studies will run in conjunction with Jazz at Lincoln Center.

The bandstand will embrace the academy when the Juilliard School inaugurates its Jazz Studies Program next year.

The program, a collaboration between Juilliard and Jazz at Lincoln Center, will host its first class in fall 2001, it was announced at a press conference Tuesday.

Clarinetist and saxophonist Victor Goines will serve as director of Juilliard Jazz Studies. Goines has played in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for the past five years and is a member of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis‘ septet. Marsalis is artistic director of J@LC.

“It feels fantastic and it will be, as well,” said Goines of the new program. “This is a performance-based curriculum for some 18 gifted young musicians. They will be responsible for composition as well as performance. Since it’s partly a project of J@LC, we will have guys like altoist Wessell Anderson, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, pianist Eric Reed and baritone saxophonist Joe Temperly as educators, and we will invite people like pianist John Lewis in for special occasions.” Goines, Anderson, Gordon and Reed all play on Marsalis’ Live at the Village Vanguard, which contains the track “Cherokee” (RealAudio excerpt).

Jazz Studies is a two-year nondegree program, equivalent to a postdoctoral course. It is Juilliard’s first step into jazz education. The second step will arrive in 2004, when Juilliard introduces a bachelor’s degree program for 12–15 undergraduates.

The Jazz Studies program will cover tuition, some of which will be generated by the students who will perform in a band called the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra.

“The entering class will consist of a big band,” Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi said. “As a part of the program, this band will tour primarily in the Northeast, which will bring in monies that will support them.”

The J@LC Orchestra, led by Marsalis, will be involved in recruitment for the new program.

“The recruitment starts tomorrow when these guys go on the road,” Polisi said. “Their charge is to find the most talented younger players out there.”

Marsalis said, “This is an opportunity for the artistic vision of musicians like Ellington, Mingus and Parker to be realized through formal education. There is a misconception about how jazz musicians learn how to play. This oft-repeated myth projects the late-night dives and the houses-of-ill-repute as incubators for great musical minds, and attacks the halls of scholarship and shared information as being detrimental to our student’s musical growth.”

Marsalis easily straddles the worlds of Juilliard and J@LC. He has recorded several albums of classical music in addition to his large jazz output. He also is a graduate of Juilliard, which throughout the years has taught several musicians who went on to play jazz, including trumpeter Miles Davis and singers Bobby McFerrin and Nina Simone.

In a country full of jazz-education programs at the undergraduate levels and beyond, what took Juilliard so long to bring jazz music into the fold?

“There was major transition at the time when Juilliard came from 122nd Street down to Lincoln Center,” Polisi said. “We had a reconfigured dance program and a new drama program and all the costs that go along with that. The real timing for the Jazz Studies comes with our finding a kindred spirit with J@LC. We wanted to do something really well-crafted and targeted.”

J@LC Education Director Laura Johnson said, “While there are a lot of great jazz studies programs, what makes this one so unique is that it’s very small, and also that it may be the first collaboration between a professional-producing organization and an educational institution.”

While the Institute for Jazz Studies will be Juilliard’s first foray into jazz education, J@LC has been involved in a number of teaching projects. J@LC runs the Essentially Ellington high-school band competition, now in its fifth season, and a couple of programs aimed at grade schoolers.