Jazz Program at UCLA

From the Winter 1997 edition of the Ethnomusicology Newsletter


In Fall Quarter 1996, UCLA launched the Jazz Concentration Program for undergraduates as a joint venture between the Department of Ethnomusicology and the Department of Music. The The new program, directed by UCLA professor and renown jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, draws on both UCLA permanent faculty and World-class jazz performers and educators from the greater Los Angeles area.

Veteran jazz bandleader and UCLA lecturer Gerald Wilson directs Jazz Ensemble I along with respected trombonist and Thad Jones alumnist, Garnett Brown. UCLA band director Gordon Henderson, the program's coordinator for the Music Department, directs Jazz Ensemble II. The coordinator for the Ethnomusicology department is Professor Steve Loza who will direct at Latin Jazz ensemble and teach a lecture course on Latin Jazz. The impressive list of jazz performers and educators recruited to direct jazz combos and provide individual instruction includes: Oscar Brashear (trumpet), Billy Childs (piano),Billy Higgins (drums), Harold Land (saxophone),Roberto Miranda (bass), Barbara Morrison (vocals),Ruth Price (vocals), and Tom Ranier (piano).

Included in the jazz concentration curriculum are courses in theory and improvisation and "Ellingtonia" taught by Burrell and arranging and jazz history classes taught by Wilson. Additional jazz-related courses are taught by UCLA professors Cheryl L. Keyes, Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, Ali Jihad Racy, and Professor of Musicology Robert Walser.

"A specific goal of the program," says Steve Loza, is to develop a center for jazz studies - a research unit that can direct research and creative projects. This would include a publications unit, development of research grants, a jazz archive, and academic appointments. We'll also be involved with UCLA Center for the Performing Arts in various activities - concert series', symposia, lectures, and presentations in schools."

Loza sees the program's link with ethnomusicology as a crucial aspect which will distinguish it from other jazz studies programs. "Students will be able to explore the international aspects of jazz in terms of its worldwide dissemination and effect upon world cultures."

"The purpose of this program," according to Loza, "is to produce students who emerge as outstanding jazz performers with strong academic foundations. In this way we can make a meaningful contribution to America's most valuable art form."