The University of South Carolina’s music department will offer free jazz performances throughout the year, continuing an American music tradition that began about 100 years ago.
USC has two big bands and four jazz combos, and each ensemble plays at least one concert each semester.
“This is along with numerous student recitals that are given as part of their degree plan as jazz studies majors at USC,” said Craig Butterfield, associate professor of double bass and jazz studies at USC.
Throughout the year, they will play the jazzy sounds of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Benny Goodman as they perform “America’s Classical Music.” All concerts are free.
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The USC series is one in a number of recently launched jazz events sure to please jazz fans in Columbia.
Jazz music was introduced to America in the early 20th century. In 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band cut the first jazz record. In the 1920s, Louis Armstrong arrived in New York City, where he began playing his jazz and Duke Ellington cemented his place in jazz history when he toured England in 1933.
Around that time, Benny Goodman began making a name for himself with jazz. Miles Davis and John Coltrane followed soon after in the 1940s.
“(USC jazz) students study and perform music spanning almost 100 years of jazz,” Butterfield said. “As the only major art form created in America, jazz has its roots in southern African-American gospel and blues, mixed with instruments and chord structures from Europe.
“The jazz bands at USC play music going all the way back to the early days of jazz, but tends to focus on the evolution of this art form, in the music of the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. An audience member at a USC jazz concert might hear music their grandparents danced to in the ‘40s, side by side with music influenced by rock performed on electric instruments.”
Jazz enthusiasts, as well as those not as familiar with the music, will enjoy these performances he said.
“I believe that jazz lovers will enjoy any and all of these concerts, because they usually span a large part of the history of jazz, from swing era big band charts to more contemporary styles, including fusion and funk,” Butterfield said.
“People not familiar with jazz will be able to enjoy the concerts as well because of this variety of music, and the fun of watching young musicians learning their craft and improvising on stage.”
Listen to the music
If you’re a jazz fan, there are several performances to enjoy in Columbia these days. A sampling:
These performances are free.
Thursday, Nov. 10: Swing Shift Jazz Band, at School of Music
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Carolina Alive Vocal Jazz Ensemble, at School of Music
Thursday, Nov. 17: USC Jazz Combos, at School of Music
Thursday, March 23: USC Jazz Faculty Recital, at School of Music
Tuesday, April 4: USC Jazz Combos, at Johnson Concert Hall
Tuesday, April 11: USC Left Bank Jazz Band, at Johnson Concert Hall
Thursday, April 13: Swing Shift Jazz Band, at Johnson Concert Hall
Wednesday, April 19: Carolina Alive Vocal Jazz Ensemble, at School of Music
Monday, April 24: USC Jazz Combos, at Johnson Concert Hall
CMA Jazz on Main
On Friday, Nov. 18, join the Noel Freidline Quartet as it pays tribute to one of the most iconic names in jazz, the great Dave Brubeck. Along with saxophonist Paul Desmond, bassist Gene Wright, and drummer Joe Morello, Brubeck helped define the genre of West Coast “cool” jazz. In 1959 Brubeck released “Time Out,” which included the iconic “Take Five,” a Desmond composition that would go on to become Brubeck’s signature song. “Time Out” is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential albums in jazz history. Happy hour and galleries open at 7 p.m., followed by the concert at 7:30.
Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. $35 general admission, $28 for members, $5 for students. www.columbiamuseum.org
This series highlights a variety of jazz musicians playing in and around Columbia. Among performances is this week’s First Thursday on Main, featuring The Mark Rapp Group. The show is from 7-10 p.m.
Main Street Public House, 1556 Main St. Free admission. For other performances in the ColaJazz series: www.colajazz.com
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, learn to Foxtrot at 7:30 p.m., then dance to the music of The Shannon Pinkney Trio from 8-11 p.m. with the ColaCafe Jazz & Vocalist Jam. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Feel free to BYOB.