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University of Massachusetts celebrates 30th anniversary of Jazz in July from July 11-22
(Published: July 10, 2011)

July 10, 2011 (Amherst, MA) Written by Robert Sutton. Thirty years ago they gathered, some of the brightest stars in the constellation of jazz including percussionist Max Roach, pianist Dr. Billy Taylor, and singer Sheila Jordan. Icons all, they were part of an advisory board for an annual program that has already lasted three decades at the University of Massachusetts.

The brainchild of Dr. Frederick C. Tillis, Jazz in July is a two-week program that unites jazz students with a roster of all-star jazz acts and educators. Running this summer from July 11-22, Jazz in July will be held at the University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus for its 30th anniversary.

According to Administrative Director L. Frank Newton, the program reflects the college's long relationship with jazz. "The UMass history with jazz dates back to the early '70s," Newton explained. "Many great jazz artists from New York and all over the East Coast would come to Amherst for various reasons such as vacation, tours, teaching opportunities and studying opportunities. Artists would congregate and play, learn, and discuss their art with one another. This is about the time that UMass Amherst developed their undergraduate degree in jazz and African-American music."

While it is considered a celebration of jazz music featuring live performances, the primary of goal of Jazz in July is to educate, to enlighten students and even the public about the history of jazz culture and the art of jazz improvisation. "I hope students will grow as musicians and take some useful techniques from our outstanding faculty members," Newton said. "I would like students to understand that they are part of something larger than just Jazz in July. They are a part of the entire jazz culture, history, community, and future. I hope they leave with an understanding that being a part of such a legacy is not something to be taken lightly. If they leave with a healthy respect for the past artists who have come before, the art that is inherent in jazz music, and prepared to join whatever talents they have in the future of jazz music, then we are doing our job."

More Information: http://www.umass.edu/fac/jazz/info/index.html

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