U-M Jazz Showcase
requires technical sophistication that is difficult to come by without formal studies, and thus the days of the autodidacts may soon be over. Jazz education has become a large business, and curricula at major universities differ in their profiles, competing nationally and even internationally for the best students. Over the last decade or so, the U-M program has definitely become one of the best in the country, with a unique take on things.
The U-M jazz program has two defining characteristics: it covers a broad range of styles and periods, and the teachers are all active performers as well as academics. All of this will be on parade on Thursday, April 5, when faculty and students perform together at the U-M Jazz Showcase at the Ark. The centerpiece of the evening will be the seven-part Sweet Time Suite, composed by the eminent trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and played by a large ensemble, featuring student soloists Justin Walter, Matt Endahl, Tucker Antell, Daniel Schlein, and Derek Barber. This is an ambitious work, with many shifting tempos and textures; it was first recorded by an all-star ensemble, with the soprano voice of Norma Winstone lending a very specific sound to some sections. It will be interesting to hear how these young players tackle this difficult and subtle work.