Wayne Escoffery Quintet featuring Jeremy Pelt to perform unheard music by Lee Morgan

Wayne Escoffery

Asked about the influence that Lee Morgan has had on him, Grammy Award-winning faculty saxophonist Wayne Escoffery said, “As a young man, his music really caught my ear,” specifically because it combined styles. “One of the traits of Lee Morgan and one of the inspirational things about his music,” Escoffery said, is that it “was really a great fusion of a lot of the modern elements” of the music of the early-to-mid 1960s “with a lot of the soulful and groove-oriented elements” of the time.

On Friday, Feb. 2, Escoffery and his quintet — featuring trumpeter Jeremy Pelt — will present “Delightfulee Morgan,” a program of music by the late, legendary trumpeter and composer Lee Morgan. The program’s title comes from Morgan’s 1966 Blue Note album, Delightfulee. The concert will showcase compositions by Morgan that are seldom heard and, in some cases, unrecorded.

It was after being approached by jazz historian and archivist Bertrand Uberall, who’d come across a trove of Morgan’s unheard music at the Library of Congress, that Escoffery began conceiving what would become the Feb. 2 Ellington Jazz Series program. That process began with finding a trumpeter who he felt could uniquely serve Morgan’s music. Enter Pelt.

“Jeremy and I go way back to college days,” Escoffery said, explaining that when he was a graduate student at the New England Conservatory, Pelt was a student at the Berklee College of Music. Pelt, he said, has long been a student of Morgan’s music. There “could not be a better choice” than Pelt to present Morgan’s music, Uberall offered.

Uberall said there’s “no reason to believe [Morgan] ever performed” this music, the rights to which are held by Kiko Morgan, to whom the celebrated trumpeter was married but estranged from at the time of his death. Kiko Morgan gave Uberall permission to have the music performed.

Morgan recorded and performed with the likes of such iconic artists as John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Blakey and was a prolific composer with his own impressive discography. He was shot and killed in 1972 by his common-law wife, Helen Moore, who’d rescued him from drugs and helped resurrect his suffering career. That story is recounted Kasper Collin’s 2016 documentary I Called Him Morgan, which Escoffery pointed out brings to life the 1960s jazz scene in New York — particularly the feeling and the energy surrounding Slugs’ Saloon. “That musical atmosphere was really inspiring to me,” Escoffery said.

Escoffery’s Feb. 2 program “Delightfulee Morgan” will celebrate an artist whose music and inimitable performances have long inspired many. Uberall is expected to deliver remarks about Lee Morgan from the stage, and two of Morgan’s nephews are expected to be on hand.

DETAILS & TICKETS
WAYNE ESCOFFERY

Published January 30, 2018
Share This Comments

YSM alumni take home Grammy Awards

The National’s “Sleep Well Beast”

Several Yale School of Music alumni won Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28. Please join us in congratulating the following musicians on this exciting accomplishment.

Guitarist Bryce Dessner ’99MM won as a member of The National, whose album Sleep Well Beast won in the “Best Alternative Music Album” category.

Saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom ’77MM earned an award as a surround producer in the “Best Surround Sound Album” category for her Early Americans.

Violinists Irene Cheng ’94MM and Louis Lev ’90MM and trombonist Rebecca Cherian ’81MM won as members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in the “Best Orchestral Performance” category for the ensemble’s recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Barber’s Adagio for Strings. For that recording, which was engineered by Mark Donahue, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra also won in the “Best Engineered Album, Classical” category.

Violinists Maureen Nelson ’00MM and Kayla Moffett ’13MM and cellist Joshua Koestenbaum ’80MM won as members of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in the “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” category for the ensemble’s Death and the Maiden album, which features music by Dowland, Gesualdo, Kurtág, Normiger, and Schubert.

Published January 29, 2018
Share This Comments

Lou Donaldson receives Ellington Medal

Lou Donaldson, the legendary saxophonist and recently named NEA Jazz Master, was awarded an Ellington Medal last Friday, October 5. Willie Ruff, the director of the Ellington Fellowship at Yale, conferred the medal during a concert featuring Donaldson and his quartet.

The concert, which took place in Morse Recital Hall, was the second event of the 2012–13 season of the Ellington Jazz Series at Yale. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the concert series.

In 1972, Yale President Kingman Brewster presented the first Ellington Medals to thirty jazz greats, including the Duke himself. That year marked the beginning of a series of extraordinary jazz concerts performed by a virtual Who’s Who of jazz: Eubie Blake, Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, Odetta, Joe Williams, Art Blakey, Kenny Clarke, Sonny Greer, Jo Jones, Max Roach, Ray Brown, Charlie Mingus, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name just a few.

Since then, the Duke Ellington Fellowship has brought the giants of jazz to Yale’s concert halls and to the city’s public schools. Ellington Medal recipients in recent years have included Frank Wess, the Heath brothers, and James Moody.

The NEA’s biography of Donaldson reads, in part: “When it comes to a jazzy soulful groove, it doesn’t get much groovier than Lou Donaldson. His distinctive blues-drenched alto has been a bopping force in jazz for more than six decades. MORE

Published October 8, 2012
Share This Comments

Saxophone Summit brings together six stellar saxophonists

Jimmy and Tootie Heath performing in Sprague Hall. Photo by Harold Shapiro.

Jimmy and Tootie Heath performing in Sprague Hall. Photo by Harold Shapiro.

The Yale School of Music will present a Saxophone Summit featuring six great performers on the entire family of instruments, from the soprano sax to the rare contrabass. The stellar lineup includes Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Antonio Hart, Todd Bashore, Frank Basile, and Scott Robinson, as well as superb rhythm section including drummer Tootie Heath, bassist David Wong, and pianist Michael Weiss. The event takes place on Friday, October 16 at 7:30 pm in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, New Haven), and will begin with a presentation by the performers about the evolution of the saxophone in jazz and the various kinds of saxophones that will be played in the evening’s program.

According to Willie Ruff, director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship, “Though it had an important role among the French and the Belgians in their military bands, the saxophone was treated as a stepchild in the early years of its existence. It took the coming of age of a small cadre of jazz musicians in the United States to really give the saxophone its voice. It is this rich story of the saxophone in jazz that we will explore in this program.” MORE

Published October 2, 2009
Share This Comments

Jane Ira Bloom to perform on Yale’s Ellington Jazz Series

jib_v

The Yale School of Music presents a special performance on its Duke Ellington jazz series by soprano saxophonist and composer Jane Ira Bloom at 8:00 pm on Friday, March 27 in Morse Recital Hall in Sprague Memorial Hall. A graduate of Yale College and the Yale School of Music, Bloom has been a pioneer in the use of live electronics and movement in jazz.

According to Pulse, she possesses “one of the most gorgeous tones and hauntingly lyrical ballad conceptions of any soprano saxophonist.” In addition to Bloom, the quartet’s performers are Dawn Clement, piano; Mark Helias, bass; and Jaz Sawyer, drums.

Said Bloom, “Coming back and playing in New Haven has a lot of meaning for me because it’s where my career as an improviser began.” She reminisces, “I was at Yale and playing out in New Haven from ’72 to ’77 during a period that jazz historians have now called the ‘New Haven Renaissance.’ There were so many creative improvisers and so much activity going on in the city. Being part of a community like that inspired me in ways that I never knew at the time.” MORE

Published March 20, 2009
Share This Comments