Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Think Thelonious Would Approve

I read an encouraging story this week: The Thelonious Monk Institute is moving its performance program from L.A. to New Orleans' Loyola University:
One of jazz's most prestigious organizations is on its way to the genre's spiritual home.

[...]To celebrate the move, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and trumpeter Terence Blanchard - a New Orleans native - planned to join the program's incoming class for a performance at Loyola on Monday.

Only a handful of students are chosen for the graduate-level college program, previously based at the University of Southern California. The selection process lasts for several months and includes several national and regional auditions.

"It's the best out there," said Elizabeth Dalferes, a spokeswoman for Loyola, where the program will be based for the next four years.

Dalferes said several factors led the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to move its jazz performance program to New Orleans. Among them: the city's appreciation for jazz, its mission to preserve jazz music and heritage and the space and programs already available at Loyola, she said.
Read the whole thing. As i noted just over a year ago, when I went there for the Loyola Jazz Festival, there are a lot of things that have come back to life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but the city--and its universities--could still use a shot in the arm. The Monk Institute is an extremely prestigious outfit; its annual competition has jump-started the career of such jazz luminaries as Joey DeFrancesco, Jane Monheit, Marcus Roberts, Jacky Terrasson, Ryan Kisor, and the esteemed saxophonist J.R. Shedroff. (Who's that last one? Well, you may know him as this guy, who uses his first and middle names professionally.) Having the institute's performance program located in the birthplace of jazz will be a boon for all concerned. I applaud this effort, and I bet Monk would do the same.

Another story of musical achievement in the face of hardship: Italian researchers are assembling a library of music composed by people who lived and died in World War II prisons and concentration camps; a set of CD's of some of the music is also being recorded.

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