UNC Greensboro’s Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program isn’t just about playing swingin’ tunes. It’s also about learning composition skills that can define a jazz musician’s career.

On Friday, April 20, the UNCG Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Associate Professor of Music Chad Eby, will perform with visiting master guitarist Lage Lund for the Miles Davis Jazz Festival concert and students have a hand, or an ear, in the compositions.

The selections from Lund’s music, originally written for three or four instruments, have been arranged for 15 instrumental parts by UNCG student composers. The writing opportunity, which is a capstone assignment, is highly unusual for a jazz education program.

During the 10 years that the festival has been taking place, UNCG jazz students have worked with musicians such as Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz and Peter Bernstein – big names in the contemporary jazz world. Often the visiting artists purchase the students’ musical arrangements to perform in the future, giving the Spartan composers their first professional writing credits.

“It was my first big band arrangement,” said sophomore pianist Julia Whalen, one of the students who arranged one of Lund’s pieces for the concert. “I went through four drafts, and I definitely learned a lot during that process – about voicings, about rhythms, about what works together.”

“It’s really awesome to see a snapshot into his mind when you’re delving into his tunes,” said guitarist Logan Butler, who also arranged work for the concert. “And it’s a beautiful feeling when you hear it played by a live band for the first time.”

Lage Lund, who hails from Skien, Norway, has led bands at New York clubs such as Smalls and The Jazz Gallery, and at venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. He attended Juilliard as the first electric guitarist in the school’s history. He has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright Foundation and took first place at the 2005 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition.

Before the concert, Lund will hold masterclasses with the Jazz Studies students, both those composing and those who will join him up on stage April 20.

The concert will be at UNCG Auditorium at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or online for $12 for general admission or $6 for students.

 

Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park, University Communications