The Russians are coming. So is a Fathead, and a Cuban.
University of Louisville’s Jazz Week is combining Latin and far-eastern musicians for not only its music students but for the general public, when it kicks off today and runs through Sunday.
Legendary saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman, who is best known for his years playing with Ray Charles, trombone player Bob McChesney and Cuban born Paquito D’Rivera promise to make the University’s 15th Jazz Week sizzle.
Five Russian musicians visiting the United States for the first time will join the jazz masters on stage: Roman Bubnov, bass; Aleksey Ivannikov, piano; Anatoliy Kirnichnyy, sax; Oleg Shuntsov, drums; and singer Anastasiya Glazkova.
Jazz Week will feature a performance by Chuck Marohnic, a Louisville native who once ran the jazz studies department at Arizona State University, but has since moved back to his hometown.
The crop of jazz players over the years makes Michael Tracy, the director of the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies program at U of L, swell with pride.
“We’ve taken great pride in seeing our students playing side by side with people such as Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Billy Taylor and others before an appreciative audience,” Tracy said. “Those experiences cannot be taught and are never forgotten.”
The idea for Jazz Week came up 14 years ago, when Tracy and Jack Roby, the development officer assigned to the School of Music, were trying to come up with ways to draw attention to the jazz studies program.
“We were pretty young, and we didn’t have as much visibility as we probably deserved,” Tracy said. “I wanted to bring onto campus the living masters who are still able to play, the ones who had a historical significance. We’ve exceeded far more than my expectations at that meeting.”
Tracy applauds the program for selfish reasons, too. “These are people I grew up listening to, and I get to shake hands and take them to dinner.”
The Russian musicians are the fourth group from there to play Jazz Week as part of the festival’s Open World Group session. “They’ve never visited the States. They have a career they want to expand on,” Tracy said. “It’s great seeing them, who are as skilled as any of us, see our country for the first time.”
During their stay, the quintet will play at the Jazz Factory, record a CD and have their performances filmed and recorded for a DVD they can take with them. They will also put on a clinic for students at St. Xavier High School.
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Jazz Week 2007
Margaret Comstock Concert Hall
U of L School of Music, Belknap Campus
• Open World Jazz Quintet with the Chuck Marohnic Trio: Feb. 21, $5, 8 p.m.
• U of L Jazz Ensemble II with Bob Lark, Thom Matt and Shelley Yoelin: Feb. 22, $5, 8 p.m.
• Bob McChesney: Feb. 23, $15, $12 (students), $10 (festival participants), 8 p.m.
• David “Fathead” Newman: Feb. 24, $15/$12/$10, 8 p.m.
• Paquito D’Rivera and his Quintet: Feb. 25, $25/$15/$10, 7:30 p.m.