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UMS prepares for a week-long celebration of jazz legend Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
University Musical Society
Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.


Michael Jewett: Celebrating 45 years of jazz broadcasting. 89 one WEMU. Hello, Michael Jewett here. Coming up in just a couple of weeks, a week-long residency. Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in Ann Arbor. And to talk about this--well, this is more than just an event, this is a number of events--speaking with the president of UMS University Musical Society, Matthew VanBesien. What a thrill to talk to you about what is a really thrilling set of events. How are you doing?

Matthew VanBesien
Peter Smith
UMS President Matthew VanBesien

Matthew VanBesien: I'm great, Michael. Thank you so much for having me on, and thanks to you and everyone to WEMU for all your great work. And who doesn't love Wynton Week, right?

Michael Jewett: It's only a week of Wynton on the radio, which has actually been, you know, kind of like a tie-in with 45 years of jazz broadcasting because it basically covers--

Matthew VanBesien: It kind of lines up.

Michael Jewett: Wynton's career as a recording artist, pretty much covered by that 45 years. And, well, let me think. This will be...is it 30 years since? Not quite. Not quite 30 years since Marsalis and Lincoln Center made their UMS debut. Am I right?

Matthew VanBesien: That sounds right. They've certainly been coming nearly every year for the past 30 years.

Michael Jewett: Their first record is 1992. And I think that...and I was, you know, stumbling through this on the air the other day. I think they played Hill making their debut in Ann Arbor, I want to say 1993, or maybe it's 1994.

Matthew VanBesien: That sounds about right.

Michael Jewett: Early nineties.

Matthew VanBesien: You know, none of us can remember a time in which they were coming to UMS. We've just been incredibly fortunate to have them as friends, as colleagues, as kind of just extraordinary collaborators and partners. So, you know, we love Wynton. Ken Fisher, my predecessor, and Wynton became very, very close. I got to know Wynton during my time in New Orleans and then later on in New York when we were colleagues, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic. So, there's a lot of connective tissue between UMS and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Organization. So, we couldn't be more excited about this upcoming project.

Michael Jewett: And this is just some basics. The week-long residency is the 10th through the 16th. Two weeks from tonight. It's a rare performance of Marsalis's All Rise, which had its debut, I think, in 2002. And this is..I'm not sure...it's certainly it's, I think, it's the Midwestern debut. That is on Friday the 14th. The residency concludes with an afternoon, a Sunday afternoon performance, on the 16th with the full orchestra. They'll just take it casually. Halftime and game time at Michigan Stadium for the Michigan game that Saturday, as I understand it.

Matthew VanBesien: Right.

Michael Jewett: Wynton Marsalis is conducting the anthem. Is that right?

Matthew VanBesien: So, Wynton and the band will be on the field with the Michigan marching band. They've created a whole new halftime show, a whole new set of musical arrangements. Chris Crenshaw, who's a trombonist in the band and a beautiful arranger, he has worked with the Michigan marching band staff to create this whole halftime program. And it's all centered around New Orleans, Wynton's hometown and actually several of the band members, their hometown as well.

Michael Jewett: Right.

Matthew VanBesien: And it's just this amazing opportunity for these legendary jazz musicians to collaborate with Michigan marching band, with Michigan students in the Big House at an important game, like the Penn State game will certainly be. And it's, you know, it's just a great example of the way UMS likes to work to really find all the different ways we can create impact when we bring an artist or a group of artists or an ensemble to southeast Michigan. And the last thing I'll say, Michael, is that there are no bigger sports fans, I know, than Wynton and the band.

Michael Jewett: Yeah, I know there a bunch of them.

Matthew VanBesien: They are sports fanatics. And the amount of jawing that was going on last year, they were here the day after we beat Ohio State and, yeah, Marcus Printa, one of the trumpet players, is a Georgia alum. And, you know, there was a lot of trash talk there.

Michael Jewett: We should mention that the connection, a football connection or athletics connection, Ward Manuel, U of M---

Matthew VanBesien: Of course.

Michael Jewett: Athletic director is going to be kind of, I guess we'll say, the moderator for the Penny Stamps event midweek. Just another--

Matthew VanBesien: Yeah.

Michael Jewett: Another highlight in a week full of highlights with this residency.

Matthew VanBesien: Yeah, Ward and Wynton together, I think, two guys who grew up in New Orleans. Didn't actually know each other. They met actually because of UMs a few seasons ago.

Michael Jewett: Oh, fantastic.

Matthew VanBesien: So, we're really, really excited about that. And I want to say a little bit about "All Rise," which is happening on Friday the 14th. This was Winton's first large scale orchestral jazz orchestra choral work that he wrote. It was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, my former band in New York. And it was commissioned because Kurt Mazur, the then-music director of the New York Phil, loved Wynton, loved his music, and really kind of challenged him to write this kind of large scale work. And Wynton has told me many stories over the years about working with Kurt Mazur, you know, who was this, you know, perceived to be this sort of stoic East German music director who came to New York. But Wynton said, like, he owes so much to Kurt Mazur for really continuing to challenge him to write this work. And so, those of us who've come long since after had, you know, I had the opportunity to commission the large scale symphony of The Jungle from from Wynton. But this is the piece that we're really, really started, and it's for a huge force. It's about 250 musicians. We're going to have students of the University Symphony Orchestra. Ken Keesler is conducting the University of Michigan choirs, our own UMS Choral Union. It's really going to be a spectacle. And the piece is just amazing.

Michael Jewett: And this is Friday the 14th in a week full of highlights. Wynton Marsalis. U of M Symphony Orchestra and choirs, Choral Union, and the credit is a rather long one. That is Friday the 14th, two weeks from tonight at Hill Auditorium, I'm speaking with Matthew VanBesien, president of the University Musical Society, about the week long residency in Ann Arbor. Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra are just amazing. A celebration and presentation of music and ideas. Now, the public performance is All Rise on Friday night, Sunday afternoon, the 16th, with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Michigan game Saturday. That's the concluding weekend, if you will. Also, the Penny Stamps is Wednesday evening. There's also a number, well, they're listed as being private. Well, they would be closed to the public because there are rehearsals, workshops, and whatnot, which is something that Wynton Marsalis is really, really promoted and engaged in throughout his career. So, this is collaborating with student musicians and whatnot. But one of these I think is going to there's going to be a live streamed event, if I'm not mistaken, or maybe they're planning that for later. How does that work?

Matthew VanBesien: I honestly don't remember what what we're livestreaming. But I think your point, Michael, is that the activities don't just happen on the big stages. They're happening at high schools like Community High school. They're happening in Ann Arbor and Detroit. It's with the U of M Jazz Ensemble. We're also taking some musicians into the Milan Correctional Facility to do a 45 minute performance and talk for 150 incarcerated people. So, some things aren't open to the public. But the point we wanted to make is that this is really far reaching in terms of the activities, and this is what, an entire week-long residency. So, they're here from the 10th through the 16th of October. This is the kind of impact that you can create when you have a group of artists here for that length of time. And I will say to you that Wynton and I have been talking about this for years. He really wanted to come to Michigan and do the type of residency that that, as he said, would set the bar for everyone else who are in the arts, in terms of the scope of work, the range of work, and the way in which it really helps and impacts people.

Michael Jewett: You know, this is really something unprecedented, really, for somebody coming out of jazz and jazz education and jazz performance to have this kind of thing at a major institution. Just major kudos to everyone involved, to yourself.

Matthew VanBesien: Thank you so much.

Michael Jewett: To my friend, our friend, Ward Manuel for being involved in this as well. It's been a treat as has Wynton Week on WEMU wraps up today. And I've just been having a ball playing. You know, there's, like, no shortage of great performances captured on record.

Matthew VanBesien: No. No.

Michael Jewett:I feel like I just had like gleaning of it, but I got to tell you....

Matthew VanBesien: There's so much more. There's a K-through-12 school day performance. We could go on and on and on. But I want all of your listeners--and you, Michael--to know everybody is welcome. We want you to come take part in this really amazing residency. It's week-long. Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis, UMS, the University of Michigan. But, really, this is something for our greater community throughout southeast Michigan.

Michael Jewett: Absolutely. Absolutely. University Musical Society President Matthew VanBesien. The 10th through the 16th. Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center. A week-long residency in Ann Arbor. Complete information--and as we've been stressing all week long--UMS dot org. Find out about all these amazing performances, planned events, everything associated with the residency. Thrilled to be a part of it. Looking forward to it.

Matthew VanBesien: Thank you, Michael.

Michael Jewett: And thank you for taking some time and sharing the good news about all this with WEMU today.

Matthew VanBesien: Always my pleasure. You take care.


University Musical Society (UMS)

Matthew VanBesien

"Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be in residency at the University of Michigan from October 10-16."

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Michael Jewett is the long-time host of 89.1 Jazz every weekday afternoon. Besides his on-air work; Michael is WEMU’s Operations Manager. Mr. Jewett started working for WEMU in 1983. He’s been on the air longer than any other current WEMU music host.
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