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Orbert Davis to expand jazz program at UIC

SOURCE: Published:
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288) 601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.news.uic.edu

August 23, 2005 Media Contact: Anne Brooks Ranallo, (312) 355-2523, aranallo@uic.edu

Jazz Artist Orbert Davis Joins UIC Faculty

Orbert Davis, jazz trumpeter, composer and educator, has been appointed associate professor of performing arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, beginning this fall. He will teach jazz history, direct the UIC Jazz Ensemble, and expand the jazz curriculum.

“Orbert Davis' interdisciplinary approach mirrors that of UIC," said Judith Kirshner, dean of the College of Architecture and the Arts. “The presence of such a distinguished artist signals our vision that UIC can create an educational center for jazz."

“He brings a remarkably broad skill set -- jazz artist of the highest caliber, innovative arts educator, composer, arranger and jazz visionary," said Michael Anderson, chair of the department of performing arts. “Under Orbert's gifted leadership, we envision UIC becoming the focal point for jazz education in Chicago."

Critics have praised the clarity and power of Davis' trumpet style. He has recorded three albums under his name and has played on recordings by Ramsey Lewis, Kurt Elling and Nancy Wilson. Davis has played and consulted on major Hollywood films including “Road to Perdition," “A League of Their Own" and “The Babe," and on thousands of television and radio commercials.

“I'm a classical composer using jazz elements, and a jazz musician with classical training," Davis said. His teaching philosophy is that jazz musicians today should understand many musical genres.

Davis combines jazz and classical influences in the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, a 55-piece orchestra of jazz and classical musicians that he founded and conducts in experimental and mainstream compositions. The orchestra will play Millennium Park on Aug. 29, debuting a jazz piece inspired by the work of Igor Stravinsky.

Davis received a master's degree in jazz pedagogy from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University. He taught at Columbia College for 14 years.

He left higher education to establish MusicAlive, a program in which he trains professional musicians to teach inner-city students in kindergarten through high school. The instructors teach music and use it to demonstrate language and math concepts, and to build life skills such as teamwork and discipline.

MusicAlive has been used in more than 30 schools in Chicago and Mobile, Ala. Davis anticipates that it will help attract students to his classes at UIC.

“My first MusicAlive students are now high school seniors," Davis said. “I'm looking forward to calling them to tell them that UIC has a program for them. Michael Anderson shares my vision of a whole generation of students of all ages whose understanding of music exceeds all expectations."

UIC ranks among the nation's top 50 universities in federal research funding and is Chicago's largest university with 25,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world. For more information about UIC, visit www.uic.edu


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