Spring 2015

About the Magazine

Northwestern is the quarterly alumni magazine for Northwestern University.
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Purple Sounds

The Bienen School of Music didn’t establish an undergraduate jazz program until 1999, making it a latecomer to the field of jazz education, and the program was briefly suspended in 2007. Nonetheless, the school has helped shape the careers of an impressive range of today’s jazz artists. Probably the first Northwestern graduate to attain jazz fame is bassist Rufus Reid ’71 (see 'The Evolving Bassist," summer 2012), who earned his bachelor’s degree in classical bass performance and is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern jazz bassists. He has appeared on more than 300 recordings and earned two 2014 Grammy nominations for his album Quiet Pride.

Howard Levy
Howard Levy. Photo by Artist Works.

In 1969 the University matriculated two nonmusic students who would become major artists. Earl “Chico” Freeman ’72 entered as a trumpet-playing math major but switched to saxophone and transferred to the school of music to continue a family tradition: his father was the renowned saxist Von Freeman. And Grammy winner Howard Levy ’73, who left school before graduating, earned worldwide fame for his revolutionary technique on the harmonica, most often heard on recordings by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones in the late 1980s and ’90s. (Levy, a regular presence on American Public Media’s A Prairie Home Companion, has also appeared on countless pop and rock albums, TV commercials and film soundtracks.)

The genre-smashing guitarist Fareed Haque ’86 (see "World on the Strings," fall 2003), who got his degree in classical guitar, has fused rock, Indian music, South American rhythms and jazz into a style that earned him the designation “Best World Guitarist” from readers of Guitar Player magazine in 2009.

Marlene Rosenberg

Marlene Rosenberg. Photo by Jennifer Girard.

In the late 1990s, the creation of a master’s degree in jazz pedagogy attracted working musicians eager to beef up their education credentials, several of whom had already established themselves on the Chicago jazz scene. Among these were pianist/vocalist/composer Patricia Barber ’96 MMus (see "Chicago Jazz Genius," fall 2012), one of the top-selling jazz artists of the decade; saxophonist Greg Fishman ’99 MMus, who has built a coast-to-coast education program via Skype and his series of lesson books; and bassist Marlene Rosenberg ’99 MMus, who has toured with such jazz legends as Joe Henderson and Nancy Wilson and now instructs small jazz ensembles and teaches improvisation as assistant coordinator of the jazz studies program at the music school.

Recent graduates who have attained jazz prominence include Caroline Davis ’10 PhD — who received her degree in music cognition and has earned plaudits for her fresh approach to the alto saxophone — and guitarist Mike Allemana ’13 MMus, who received a master’s degree in 2013 after nearly 20 years of performing professionally.

New York saxophonist and composer Victor Goines, who has starred in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for more than two decades, heads up the jazz studies program at the Bienen School of Music. — N.T.