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Allison Miller

Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency


Andrew Crawford

Music Administrator and Managing Director of Jazz Year

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999


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Envelopes filled with lyrics for the choir.

KeyNotes: The Jerome Mirza Virtual Jazz Residency 

Typically, the Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency consists of a week of workshops, classes, and lessons, culminating in a joint concert with the students. Due to the continuing pandemic we will be presenting a virtual residency of seven of the world’s leading jazz artists from January to May of 2021.  The KeyNote presentations and interactive Q & A's will be broadcast on the Knox College YouTube Channel on the following Sundays at 3pm (CST) and are open to the public.  All are welcome to participate and submit questions on the YouTube comment stream.

January 24th
Camila Meza
Storytelling Through Music

Chilean Guitarist, Vocalist and Composer Camila Meza represents the new frontier of global creative music. With a vast musical knowledge and talent, she transcends boundaries both geographically and musically.  She is active on the New York jazz scene with Ryan Keberle Catharsis, Lucas Pino, Fabian Almazan and directs her quartet and jazz octet, The Nectar Orchestra. She sings Spanish and English, and has won two Independent Music Awards as the Best Adult Contemporary Album and Best Latin Song ("Para Volar"). 

In her KeyNote talk she will share practical methods for connecting your inner ear with what you play in a clear way using storytelling through music.

January 31st
Amir ElSaffar
Beyond the Other Shore - Transcultural Music Making

Composer, trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist Amir ElSaffar has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music,” (the Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). An expert jazz trumpeter with a classical background, ElSaffar has created techniques to play microtones and ornaments idiomatic to Arabic music that are not typically heard on the trumpet. He is also one of the few musicians in his generation to master the centuries-old Iraqi maqam tradition, which he performs actively as a vocalist and santur (Iraqi hammered dulcimer) player. As a composer, ElSaffar has created a unique microtonal harmonic language that merges the Arabic maqam modal system with contemporary Western harmony.

His KeyNote talk will discuss the history of the Iraqi maqam, his journey with the music, how to hear micro-tones and how he has used the maqam to create new harmonies in the jazz idiom in works with his ensembles.

February 21st
Allison Miller
Creative Making RIGHT NOW!

Drummer, composer, and bandleader Allison Miller is a boundary-pushing performer known for her adventurous approach to post-bop and modern creative jazz. Miller has played with a diverse range of performers from Ani DiFranco and Natalie Merchant to Marty Ehrlich, Joel Harrison, and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

Her KeyNote talk is for ALL creative makers; vocalists, instrumentalists, visual artists, dancers, choreographers, poets, and actors. During this unprecedented time of global pandemic, and civil and political unrest, we are also seeing the possibility for mass uprising and change. New art comes from change. How do we make art during these troubling times and make a difference while we are stuck at home?  How can we use our art to express these issues that we are experiencing?

March 7th
Fabian Almazan
Developing a voice: Approaches to self-teaching

Cuban-American pianist/composer Fabian Almazan found his musical roots as a child in Havana where he first became involved in the classical piano tradition. He is the founder and director of Biophilia Records and has worked diligently towards ensuring a continued dialogue of awareness concerning music and environmental justice. As a performer, Almazan has developed a personal voice through the electric manipulation of the acoustic piano in live and studio settings. He has toured his music extensively as well as accompanied artists such as Linda May Han Oh, Terence Blanchard, Gretchen Parlato, John Hollenbeck, Mark Guiliana, Dave Douglass, Avishai Cohen and Ambrose Akinmusire among others.

His KeyNote talk will discuss how composition and improvisation are intimately connected and how to transcend music theory and the technical limitations of your instrument to achieve pure sonic expression,how to slow down the inner workings of music and ourselves to develop our unique voice.

March 21st
Nduduzo Makhathini
Improvisation in Jazz as Divination: A (South) African Context

Blue Note recording artist Nduduzo Makhathini grew up in the lush and rugged hillscapes of umGungundlovu in South Africa, a peri-urban landscape in which music and ritual practices were symbiotically linked. It’s important to note that the Zulu, in fact the African warrior code, is deeply reliant on music for motivation and healing. This deeply embedded symbiosis is key to understanding Makhathini’s vision.
As a healer and improviser his KeyNote talk will discuss the connection between spirituality and sound and connecting beyond the music itself.

April 11th
Ulysses Owens Jr.
The Musician's Career Guide:Turning Your Talent Into Sustained Success

A drummer who “take[s] a back seat to no one” (The New York Times), performer, producer and educator, Ulysses Owens Jr. goes the limit in the jazz world and Beyond. Claiming four successful albums of his own, Owens has also gained special attention for his performances on the GRAMMY award-winning albums Dedicated to You (Kurt Elling), The Good Feeling (Christian McBride Big Band.), and GRAMMY award-nominated albums Giant Steps and Countdown (Joey Alexander), Out Here, Live at The Village Vanguard (Christian McBride Trio), and most recently, Nat King Cole, and Me (Gregory Porter.)  Owens also remains tightly connected to his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida where his family founded Don’t Miss a Beat, Inc., a non-profit organization empowering young people to dream big and give back to their communities through a blend of musical, artistic, academic, and civic engagement programming. His KeyNote talk will reference his second book “The Musician’s Career Guide: Turning Your Talent into Sustained Success.”  He will discuss career development, creative entrepreneurship, and branding among other topics.

May 2nd
Jeremy Cunningham
Breaking Down the Fourth Wall

Jeremy Cunningham is a drummer, composer, and improviser. Originally from Cincinnati, he moved to Chicago in 2009, where he currently performs and composes as an integral part of the city’s vibrant music scene. His KeyNote talk will delve into the topic of Breaking Down the Fourth Wall, or the wall that exists between a performing artist and their audience. Both the talk and his group’s live concert performance scheduled for May 16 at Knox College will feature Jeremy’s release “The Weather Up There” which focuses on the life of Jeremy's younger brother Andrew, who died in a home invasion robbery in 2008. This work confronts the tragedy of violence and examines the acute and long-lasting effects of and complex cultural and social issues that gun violence requires us to confront through the lens of memory, response, and collage. In his own words, Cunningham explains, “I wrote The Weather Up There to confront the loss of my brother Andrew to gun violence. My brother was a kind soul, and I used those warm memories of him to illustrate his life as a counterpoint to the pieces that confront his tragic end. Recorded accounts from my family and friends appear throughout the album to show just how far the ripple effect of gun violence extends through a community.”  As part of his process, Cunningham wrote poems and collected a series of audio interviews from family members and close friends of his brother that detail their experience of loss and the effect gun violence has had upon their lives.

Past Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency Guest Artists

2019: Caroline Davis and Rob Clearfield Quartet

2018: Steven Bernstein Quartet

2017: Maria Schneider 

2016: Marquis Hill Blacktet

2015: Matt Wilson Quartet

2014: Donny McCaslin Casting for Gravity Quartet

2013: Ben Allison Quartet

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Printed on Monday, May 17, 2021