November 11, 2008
Contact: Sara R. Leonard
Concert and Production Manager
AMHERST, Mass.—The yearlong Amherst College Music festival Faultlines: Mapping Jazz in the 21st Century will continue on Thursday, Nov. 20, with a performance workshop from 2 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. in Room 7 of the Arms Music Center at Amherst College, led by trumpeter Dave Douglas, tuba player Marcus Rojas and saxophonist Donny McCaslin. The trio will use their workshop to encourage musicians and others interested in learning about their musical methodology to think in new ways about improvisation and creativity in music. Free of charge and open to the public, the event will be followed by an evening performance by Douglas and Rojas in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center’s Solos and Duos Concert Series at 8 p.m.
Widely recognized as one of the most important and original American musicians to emerge from the jazz and improvised music scene of the last decade, Douglas has collaborated with a who’s-who of important contemporary artists, including John Zorn, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich and many others. For the past half decade, he has repeatedly been named trumpeter, composer and jazz artist of the year by such organizations as the New York Jazz Awards, Down Beat, Jazz Times and Jazziz.
Called a “phenomenal tubist” by Whitney Balliet and one of “the best all around tuba players in the world” by Harvey Pekar, Rojas, a native New Yorker, has a vast experience in performance. He has worked with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera, Joffrey Ballet, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis and ensembles led by Gil Evans, George Russell, Jim Hall, Wayne Shorter and David Byrne. He has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Today and Saturday Night Live. He has also played on over 300 recordings—from CDs of his own groups (Spanish Fly and Les Miserables Brass Band) to reggae stars Sly and Robbie—and performed and recorded with such artists as Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Dawn Upshaw, Queen Latifah, Aretha Franklin, They Might be Giants and Rosie O’Donnell, among others. In addition, he has recorded for every major film, television and record company in the United States.
McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston and arrived in New York in 1991 after touring with jazz legend Gary Burton. In New York, he worked with bassist Eddie Gomez, Steps Ahead and the acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra, where his performance on the album Concert in the Garden received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo in 2004. He joined the Dave Douglas Quintet in 2005, after which Josef Woodard of JazzTimes described him as a “versatile player who moves easily between inside and outside musical zones . . . . [T]here’s a fluidity and grace to his playing even when he’s pushing at envelopes.” In 2006 he received a Doris Duke grant for new jazz composition from Chamber Music America; In Pursuit (Sunnyside 2007) comprises the results of that work.
The Faultlines festival celebrates jazz pluralism and experimentalism and features some of the most creative and provocative artists in American music. It includes concerts, performance workshops, talks and roundtable discussions, all free and open to the public and all guaranteed to generate passionate debate about the nature of jazz and its relationship to American cultural identity. The festival is made possible through the generous support of the Amherst College Arts Series Fund, Amherst College Department of Music, Amherst College Mead Art Museum, and UMass-Amherst Fine Arts Center’s Solos and Duos Concert Series and Magic Triangle Concert Series.
For more information about the Douglas/Rojas/McCaslin workshop or any other events associated with Faultlines: Mapping Jazz in the 21st Century, visit the festival Web site at www.amherst.edu/faultlines or call 413/542-2195.