Jazz on the Grand
MSU College of Music helps launch new free jazz series for Lansing community.
Music aficionados in Greater Lansing had the chance to take in some live jazz this summer through a new music series that showcased the talents of several local organizations—including the MSU College of Music.
The MSU Professors of Jazz were among three musical groups teaming up with the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority (LEPFA) for the inaugural Jazz on the Grand series. Performances took place on the patio of the Lansing City Market, with each group performing from 6 to 8 p.m. on a particular night. The MSU Professors of Jazz were the culminating performance in early September. Other groups performing in August and July included the Everett High School Jazz Band and Lansing jazz saxophonist Phil Denny, and the DeWitt Junior High Jazz Band and Detroit jazz singer Kimmie Horne.
Director of MSU Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker says the event is part of the College’s mission to engage with the surrounding community and to foster cultural understanding and awareness of music and the arts. He says College of Music and Jazz Studies donor Joe Maguire, and his son Colin Maguire, came up with the original concept and worked with the City of Lansing and other sponsors to get the series under way.
“This was our first performance of the season,” Whitaker says. “Everyone was excited to perform with each other after a long summer. We had a swingin’ good time and are grateful to Joe for his concert sponsorship which kicked off this collaboration.”
Whitaker is also the artistic director for the Professors of Jazz. The “hard-bop” seven-piece ensemble consists of jazz faculty from Michigan State University College of Music and features Etienne Charles (trumpet), Randy Gelispie (drums), Diego Rivera (tenor saxophone), Xavier Davis (piano), Randy Napoleon (jazz guitar), Michael Dease (trombone), and Rodney Whitaker (bass).
The MSU College of Music joined a consortium of local organizations in sponsoring the free Jazz on the Grand series, including WKAR, LAFCU, Huntington National Bank, Emergent Biosolutions, Wolverine Construction, SERF, Gordon Foods, Lansing Center, and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, & Smith, Inc.