LOGAN – A celebration of the hugely influential modern jazz baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams comes to Utah State University in April with a concert Wednesday, April 5.
Utah Public Radio (UPR) jazz host Steve Williams serves as master of ceremonies as Adams’ biographer Gary Carner talks about Pepper’s life and music and New York City-based saxophonist Jason Marshall is the featured soloist with the USU Big Bands and faculty ensemble Aggie Music Project. The preconcert onstage conversation with Carner starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, in the Caine Performance Hall with concert following at 7:30 p.m.
“As a big fan of the baritone saxophone myself, I am happy as a clam at high tide about this concert,” Jon Gudmundson, director of the USU Jazz Orchestra, said. “Gary Carner, the world’s leading authority on Pepper Adams, will be here to talk about Pepper’s importance to modern jazz and will also engage in onstage conversation with UPR host Steve Williams prior to the concert. Steve hosts the popular program, ‘Jazz Time,’ that runs statewide on UPR.”
The USU Big Bands present a tribute to Adams, formally known as Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III, an American jazz baritone saxophonist and composer. Jason Marshall, baritone saxophonist, will be joining the Big Bands in concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Caine Performance Hall on April 5.
Adams, born in Highland Park, Michigan, composed 43 pieces, was the leader on 18 albums spanning 28 years and participated in 600 sessions as a sideman. He worked with an array of musicians and had especially fruitful collaborations with trumpeter Donald Byrd and as a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.
“Having Steve Williams talk with Gary Carner about Pepper’s importance will be quite a treat,” Gudmundson said. “Steve has been the voice of jazz in Utah for more than thirty years, and his laid back, personable interviewing style will make for an enjoyable and interesting hors d’oeuvre just prior to the concert. The main course will be the fantastic playing of Jason Marshall.”
Carner not only wrote the definitive account of Adams’ recorded output (Pepper Adams’ Joy Road: An Annotated Discography, Scarecrow Press), but is also a tireless champion of his music, having commissioned British musician Tony Faulkner to arrange several of his compositions for big band. A number of these arrangements will be performed at the concert, with Jason Marshall filling in for Adams in the baritone saxophone soloist chair.
As a bonus, Marshall will perform a couple of jazz standards between big band sets in a small group format with Caine College of the Arts jazz faculty Corey Christiansen, Courtney Isaiah Smith, Josh Skinner and Jason Nicholson. USU trumpet and jazz professor Max Matzen will also sit in and solo on some of the pieces.
With an early encouragement to appreciate all types of music, Marshall has developed a style that encompasses the whole of African American music. Years of dedication and perseverance have resulted in a giant, soulful sound and instantly appealing concept. As one of the most sought after baritone saxophonists on the scene today, he gained wide recognition early in his career as a member of several ensembles led by trumpet star Roy Hargrove. He has performed with Aretha Franklin, Arturo O’Farrill, the Charlie Mingus Big Band, The Roots, Gladys Knight and more. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award for his composition Miss Garvey, Miss Garvey!! Marshall has also written and arranged music for the Taipei Jazz Orchestra and New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. In addition to his musical exploits, Marshall is a highly regarded speaker and writer, giving speeches on a variety of subjects not limited to jazz, but also including such topics as African American history, classic menswear and travel tactics.
Tickets are $10 adults, $8 youth and seniors, $5 USU faculty and staff and free for USU students with ID. For more information, visit the CCA Box Office in room L101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center, call 435-797-8022 or go online to cca.usu.edu.