The impact of the Jazz program at Florida State University’s College of Music can be seen and heard throughout the United States. There is a prominent FSU jazz presence in various music scenes, including New York City, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. Alumni have toured with renowned artists such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Count Basie Orchestra, Jon Cleary, Marcus Roberts, Jason Marsalis, and others. FSU’s world-renowned faculty keep the program thriving. Here is an overview of recent news and accomplishments for the program, faculty, and alumni.
Students have participated in masterclasses with members of The Count Basie Orchestra, Carmen Bradford, Jon Faddis, Clay Jenkins, Russell Malone, Herlin Riley, and Peter Washington. In partnership with Florida State University’s Opening Nights performance series, students also experienced working with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Chris Botti, Christian McBride, and others.
Some Recent News:
Associate Professor Leon Anderson Jr. and the College’s premiere Jazz Ensemble recently toured throughout Florida, visiting various schools, such as: A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Osceola County School for the Arts, and Howard W. Blake School of the Arts.
New Albums from FSU’s Jazz Faculty:
Professor Bill Peterson released his solo piano album, All Heart (2017). It includes Peterson’s take on various jazz standards along with original tunes. The album’s last track, “By His Grace,” includes two alumni of FSU, Sam Winternheimer (MM ’16) and Robert Boone (MM ’16).
Associate Professor Rodney Jordan released his first album as a band leader, Playing Jazz Vol. 1 (2018). Featuring arrangements of popular jazz standards, alongside Jordan’s pieces, it includes other musicians with connections to FSU, such as Associate Professor Marcus Roberts, Ricardo Pascal (BA and BS ’12), and Alphonso Horne (BM ’10).
Marcus Roberts released his recording, Trio Crescent: Celebrating Coltrane (2017). Roberts, Jason Marsalis, and Rodney Jordan present a trio’s take on John Coltrane’s famous 1964 album, Crescent.
Select Notable Alumni:
Martin Bejerano (BA ’96) is head of the jazz piano department at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Since his time at FSU, Bejerano has earned numerous accolades. In 1999, he won third place in the prestigious Great American Jazz Piano Competition; in 2010 and 2017 he received the “New Jazz Works” grant by Chamber Music America. He received the “Bacardi Choice” commission by the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation and Bacardi in 2013. He also joined Roy Haynes’ Band in 2000 and Russell Malone’s quartet in 2002. Bejerano has released two CDs: his debut CD Evolution/Revolution (2007) received high critical praise, while Trio Miami (2016) earned Downbeat Magazine’s “Editor Choice.”
Robert Boone (MM ’16) is active as a teacher, clinician, and jazz drummer and has performed with Eric Reed, Marcus Roberts, Barry Greene, Ron McCurdy, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Currently Boone serves as the drummer for the Count Basie Orchestra.
Jeff Denson (MM ’05) resides in California and is an avid composer, performer, and educator. He is in high demand as a bassist for many ensembles but is best known for his work with jazz saxophonist, Lee Konitz. During his time at Florida State University, Denson and his colleague Ronen Itzik (MM ’05) recorded three albums with Professor Bill Peterson. Recently Denson’s Outside My Window (2018), which featured Itzik, received excellent critical praise.
Jason Hainsworth (MM ’02) currently serves as the assistant director of the Roots, Jazz, and American Music program at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has released two albums, toured with Ed Calle’s Mamblue (2016 Latin Grammy Winner) and Tito Puente Jr.’s Latin Jazz All Stars. His compositions have received performances at several universities. Prior to his appointment at SFCM, Hainsworth was Director of Jazz Studies at Broward College.
Alphonso Horne (BM ’10) was the 2014 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition finalist. After graduating from FSU, he became a member of the Disney All-American College Band before attending Juilliard for his Master’s degree in Jazz. He has performed in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and in Broadway productions, including After Midnight. He remains active as a sideman and was a part of the 2014 PBS special Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. He has also toured with Allen Stone (2015), performed on Jamison Ross’s 2015 title album and Joey Alexander’s My Favorite Things (2015), and appeared with Rhianna at the Video Music Award show in 2017. Horne is currently involved with many projects, such as the annual Savannah Swing Central and Music Festival, and he is producing his original show, Mother Kofi: The Tale of An African Princess.
John Lumpkin II (MM ’09) is an acclaimed producer, arranger, and artist in the jazz, R&B, and Gospel music scenes. He has shared the stage with musicians such as Delfeayo Maralis, Wycliffe Gordon, Curtis Fuller, James Moody, and Marcus Printup. Lumpkin II founded the Jazz Discovery Series at the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida, and is currently the drummer for the new Dr. Phillips Jazz Orchestra in Orlando.
Dave Meder (BA ’13) joined the faculty of the University of North Texas in 2018 as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano in the College of Music’s Division of Jazz Studies. After completing his BA in Music and Spanish at Florida State University, Meder earned the Master of Music degree in Jazz Instrumental Performance from New York University in 2015. Meder also received an Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School in 2017. Meder won first place in the Jacksonville International Jazz Piano Competition in 2013 and was a finalist in the Barry Harris National Jazz Piano Competition in 2015. In 2018, he was named a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition and a finalist for the 2019 American Pianists Association Cole Porter Fellowship. Most recently, Meder released his debut record in February, Passage, on Outside in Music.
Chris Pattishall (BA ’09) is a distinguished leader and sideman. He participated in the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program and the Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Jazz. In addition to these programs, he received an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s Award. Residing in NYC, Pattishall maintains a busy schedule as a performer and educator both locally and nationally.
Jamison Ross (BA ’10) lives in New Orleans and is in demand as a drummer and vocalist. He won the 2012 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drums Competition. In 2015 his debut release, Jamison, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Since then he has toured as a bandleader and a sideman for notable acts, such as Snarky Puppy. Recently he released his second album, All for One, that received high acclaim for taking listeners deeper into Jamison’s ethos.
Barry Stephenson (BA ’10) was awarded the ASCAP Foundation Louis Armstrong Award in 2011 and joined the Glen David Andrews Band for several albums. He also served as the musical director on the album Redemption. In 2012 he was selected for the Svenson Composition Award. Stephenson joined Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human in 2013 and has toured the world regularly. He released his debut jazz album Basic Truths in March 2015.
~ Alan Blanchard (MM ’18, Performance, jazz trumpet)