NIU Jazz Lab Band to celebrate DVD release with Nov. 17 concert

Rodrigo Villanueva. Photo credit: www.rodrigovillanueva.com.
Rodrigo Villanueva. Photo credit: www.rodrigovillanueva.com.

NIU and DeKalb-area high school students join instructors from the School of Music every year for a trip to the annual Illinois Music Education Conference in Peoria.

The all-state event promotes life-long learning and leadership among music enthusiasts. In attendance are those widely considered the who’s who of high school and collegiate music programs across Illinois.

Last spring, Rodrigo Villanueva, associate professor of jazz studies at NIU, recognized that the 2014 conference presented a chance to record the NIU Jazz Lab Band’s first-ever DVD featuring an all-star ensemble of faculty and students.

“The opportunity to document a gathering of world-class jazz faculty from NIU in one place was hard to pass up,” Villanueva said. “I believe the DVD is a wonderful representation of us, the School of Music and the world-renowned NIU jazz studies program.”

Among the faculty performing on the DVD are Villanueva, Fareed Haque, Art Davis, Geof Bradfield, Kelly Sill, Tom Garling and Paul Bauer, the recently retired director of the NIU School of Music

Rich Holly, dean of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts, said that having the camera on during a live performance raises the bar and helps students to focus.

DVD pic“One of the greatest experiences we can provide our students is for them to be able to play alongside professionals,” Holly said. “We are extremely fortunate to have so many renowned jazz professionals on our faculty, and for the students to be able to perform with them not only gives the students a thrill, but provides them with an aural reference so they learn and can say to themselves, ‘That’s how I want to play.’ ”

In celebration of the DVD release, the Jazz Lab Band will hold a concert at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in the Boutell Memorial Concert Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and the auditorium is accessible to all.

The concert will feature faculty who performed on the DVD, as well as pianist Reggie Thomas, new coordinator of the jazz studies program.

The DVD is available now at the NIU University Bookstore, and copies will be available for purchase during the concert. Proceeds from the DVD will benefit future NIU Jazz Lab Band or Jazz Studies activities and events.

For more information, call (815) 753-3425 or email villanueva@niu.edu.

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