MSUFCU Jazz Artist In Residence Program To Engage Students, Community

Posted at 2:26 PM, Sep 19, 2018

A diverse line-up of leading jazz musicians will engage students, schools and communities across Michigan as the sixth year of the MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program kicks off this October on the campus of Michigan State University. 

Launched in 2013, the pioneering residency program brings high-level talent to spend a week mentoring MSU jazz studies students and K-12 students at schools and academies across the state. Coordinated by the MSU College of Music and supported by a $1 million endowment by the MSU Federal Credit Union, the program follows the jazz tradition of established musicians passing on their knowledge to aspiring musicians, while enriching often resource-strapped jazz programs in urban and rural communities. The dazzling 2018-19 lineup of working musicians, composers and educators will offer a variety of jazz styles from artists Melissa Aldana[], Mark Whitfield []Mimi Jones [] and Steve Davis [].

“Jazz is a spoken language that is passed on from generation to generation,” said Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker []. “Our residency program brings amazing jazz musicians to Michigan who travel across the state, mentor young musicians, and build support for school and community music programs. It’s great for our jazz studies students to be a part of that and to help to ensure arts education continues to thrive.”

Jazz saxophonist Melissa Aldana will be the first of four scheduled artists coming to MSU for weeklong residencies, two per semester each academic year, and will be with MSU Jazz Studies from Sunday, Sept. 30 to Saturday, Oct. 6. The pioneering Chilean-born musician burst on the scene as a teenager, performing at the Panama Jazz Festival, Blue Note Jazz Club and Monterey Jazz Festival. Her unique sound and flair have led to popular recordings since 2010. While at MSU, Aldana will mentor College of Music students and perform for the public. She will also visit high schools and art academies statewide, accompanied by MSU Jazz Orchestra I, the College’s premier student jazz ensemble. Aldana performs [] with MSU Jazz Orchestras I and II on Friday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m., at Fairchild Theatre, in the MSU Auditorium.

“Aldana is the perfect artist to kick-off our sixth season and energize students through her incredible depth as a young jazz saxophonist,” said Associate Director of Jazz Studies Diego Rivera []. “She’s relatable. She’s gifted. And she plays with a vibrancy and flair that I’m sure will inspire our students and all jazz lovers.”

Following Aldana, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Mimi Jones and trombonist Steve Davis will electrify the winter and spring through three separate, weeklong residencies. The MSUFCU Jazz Artist in Residence program represents the largest-ever investment in the College’s curriculum and provides one-on-one instruction, collaboration and performance opportunities with some of the world’s best jazz musicians. The impressive lineup over the years has included:

  • Year One 2013-14: Saxophonist Antonio Hart, Trumpeter Jon Faddis and Drummer Jeff Hamilton
  • Year Two 2014-15: Bassist Christian McBride, Trombonist Robin Eubanks, Guitarist Peter Bernstein, and Michigan icons Saxophonist Vincent Bowens and Drummer Tim Froncek
  • Year Three 2015-16: Trumpeter Brian Lynch, Drummer Jimmy Cobb, Pianist Kenny Barron and Saxophonist Tim Warfield, Jr. 
  • Year Four 2016-17: Guitarist Russell Malone, Bassist Rufus Reid, Clarinetist-Saxophonist Anat Cohen and Trombonist Conrad Herwig
  • Year Five 2017-18: Trumpeter Michael Philip Mossman, Drummer Harvey Mason, Pianist Helen Sung, Saxophonist Steve Wilson


Each year, artists in residence travel with MSU’s jazz ensembles to give 16 performances across the state in support of jazz programs at non-profit organizations and at middle and high schools. All combined, the residencies of the 20 artists included workshops, concerts, events and outreach to more than 25,000 students and adults in communities across Michigan.