Monday nights are made for music

Trumpeter Jim Rotondi from New York’s jazz scene is set to heat things up Monday night at the School of Music’s monthly jazz series concert when he takes the stage with the jazz studies faculty members.

In its 10th year, the series continues to host elite performers. Funding for the program is nearly self-sufficient through the proceeds of ticket sales, but the Holiday Inn, Stonewood Grill and Tavern and individual artists’ instrument companies also help fund the events.

According to a 2002 Oracle article written by Andrew Pina, “Before the Monday series began in 1996, the department of jazz would sponsor a musician or two as an artist-in-residence, but after budget concerns, the department decided to try to attract artists for a series.”

The artists brought to campus aren’t just local street musicians either.

“We bring in world-class jazz artists to campus,” said Jack Wilkins, director of jazz studies. “These are the same people playing in the clubs in New York and at festivals.”

School of Music Director Wade Weast said even non-music majors should attend.

“People pay good money to go see these musicians at restaurants or clubs in cities’ downtowns, but (students) can come see them here on campus (for a more reasonable price),” he said.

Concerts occur the last Monday evening of every month and run for approximately an hour and a half, depending on the amount of improvisation the artist does.

Weast said Rotondi will probably “make it up as he goes.”

Most jazz performers do not have a set list when they perform.

Each concert is different. Sometimes faculty members accompany the performer, and sometimes students get the chance to play alongside their accomplished idols. In February, the Jazz Ensemble I will perform with saxophonist Eric Alexander.

“Part of our program is a chance for the students to talk with the people that are actually doing it,” Wilkins said. Inspired students participate in master classes and creative improvisation with the artists.

When faculty perform, they usually rehearse Sunday night; however, students are given the music pieces in advance, nearly a month ahead of the concert date.

Monday’s concert will feature Rotondi, a member of a distinguished group of young players at the heart of the jazz scene, according to He has collaborated with legends such as Cecil Payne, George Coleman and Harold Mabern. To sample portions of his CD, visit

Other acts throughout the semester include pianist Chick Corea, who rose to fame in the early 1970s playing on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. He has won twelve Grammys and has hosted the Clearwater Jazz Festival numerous times. He will be playing at USF on April 22-24.

Dave Douglas is another highly acclaimed jazz musician featured in the series. He has won the titles of trumpeter, composer and jazz artist of the year by elite organizations such as the New York Jazz Awards, Down Beat, Jazz Times, Jazziz and the Italian Jass Critics’ Society since 2000, according to his Web site. He will be playing at USF on March 11 and 12.

Tickets for Monday’s show are $6 for students and $12 for adults. They can be purchased at the school’s box office, which students can reach at 974-2323. Monday’s concert begins at 8 p.m. in FAH 101.

For a complete schedule of concerts, visit