Jazz Residency Brings Bassist Ben Allison to Knox and Community

November 04, 2013

Ben Allison at the Knox Rootabaga Jazz Festival
Bassist Ben Allison at the 2007 Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival, returns to Knox Nov. 12-14, 2013

Knox College's new Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency launches this fall with acclaimed jazz bassist and composer Ben Allison. The three day residency, November 12-14, will include extensive work with Knox students and a free public concert by the Ben Allison Quartet at 7 p.m., November 14 in Knox's Harbach Theatre.

"The residency will focus on Knox's small ensembles and our students -- from composers and arrangers to creative writers," said Nicole Malley, assistant professor of music and director of the jazz program at Knox. "During the day, Ben and his group will work with small groups in masterclasses and with individual students in private lessons. During the evenings, they will rehearse and workshop original compositions with the Cherry St. Combo and our other jazz combos.

"Ben also will work with students in Knox's renowned creative writing program on collaborative pieces involving student compositions, and student poets will be featured as part of the public concert," Malley said. "Ben has been working with famed poet Robert Pinsky in poetry and jazz workshops around the country. We're excited to tap into the interdisciplinary interests and multi-talented students that we have at Knox."

Allison will speak in Malley's course, Music of the African Diaspora, on cross-cultural collaborations and the globalization of jazz. He has performed in Mexico with his own band and in Brazil with the Jazz Sinfonica Orchestra.

The residency culminates with a free, public concert featuring the Ben Allison Band and Knox student musicians at 7 p.m., Thursday, November 14, in Harbach Theatre, Ford Center for the Fine Arts.

Allison, who was the guest artist at the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival in 2007, has been cited by the Boston Globe as "one of today's best young jazz musicians" and by JazzTimes magazine as a "visionary composer, adventurous improviser, and strong organizational force on the New York City jazz scene."

The Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency at Knox College is funded by a three-year, $30,000 grant from the Jerome Mirza Foundation of Bloomington, Illinois. The foundation, which supports programs in education and the arts, was created by a bequest from Jerome Mirza, an attorney who served as president of the Illinois State Bar Association and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and wrote several books on personal injury law. Mirza's daughter, Candace Mirza of Wilmette, Illinois, is a 1981 Knox graduate.