[ faculty in the press ]

Willie Ruff is called a “legend in his own time” at Arts Council Awards

ruff-willie_artscouncilawardZip06.com | By Amy J. Barry, Correspondent

Willie Ruff, a world-renowned jazz musician and educator who has lived in Branford for more than 30 years, is a “legend in his own time,” says Cynthia Clair, the executive director of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

During the Arts Council’s annual awards ceremony earlier this month at the New Haven Lawn Club, where Ruff was the recipient of the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement in and Contribution to the Arts, Clair pointed out that Ruff, who attended Yale School of Music as an undergraduate after serving in the Army, performed internationally for 50 years with the late pianist Dwike Mitchell. The duo shared the stage with such jazz icons as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Sarah Vaughan and is credited with bringing jazz to new audiences around the world, most notably in the Soviet Union in 1959 and China in 1989.

“Among the many things I find fascinating is Willie speaks seven languages,” Clair says. “And he brought the jazz greats of our time to New Haven over the past 30 years. Through the Duke Ellington Fellowship [that he established], he not only introduced them to New Haven audiences, but took them into New Haven Schools.” MORE

Published December 18, 2015
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[ faculty ]

Willie Ruff receives major award from New Haven Arts Council

Photo by Harold Shapiro

Photo by Harold Shapiro

Longtime YSM faculty member and alumnus Willie Ruff ’53 BM, ’54 MM will be the recipient of a major award from the New Haven Arts Council: the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement in and Contribution to the Arts.

A musician and scholar of wide-ranging interests and influence, Professor Ruff has been on the faculty at the Yale School of Music since 1971, and has also served on the faculty at UCLA, Dartmouth, and Duke University. He is the founding director of the Duke Ellington Fellowship program at Yale, and his work in bringing jazz artists to Yale and New Haven public schools earned him the Governor’s Arts Award in 2000. In an article earlier this year, the New York Times called Ruff “a kind of emissary from the jazz world for four decades” at Yale.

The award announcement noted:

In addition to sharing the concert stage with some of the most iconic names in jazz, Yale School of Music professor Willie Ruff has served music and our community as an educator, an explorer, a writer, and an ambassador, inspiring audiences and connecting new generations of performers to history and possibility.


Published December 2, 2015
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