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Loyola University College of Music presents 32nd annual Jazz Ensemble Festival with guest artists Brian Blade and Jon Cowherd of the Brian Blade Fellowship

Loyola press release - February 21, 2001

(New Orleans)—Loyola University New Orleans College of Music presents its 32nd annual Jazz Ensemble Festival on Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, 2001. Highlights of the festival include a Friday night performance by the Loyola Faculty Jazz Septet and a Saturday night performance by the Loyola Jazz Band with drummer Brian Blade and pianist Jon Cowherd of the Brian Blade Fellowship as guest artists and clinicians.

The Loyola Faculty Jazz Septet concert is set for Friday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall located in the Music/Communications Complex at the corner of Calhoun Street and St. Charles Avenue. The septet includes Tony Dagradi, saxophones; John Vidacovich, drums; John Mahoney, trombone; Rex Richardson, trumpet; Michael Pellera, piano; John Eubanks, guitar; and Jesse Boyd, bass.

The Loyola Jazz Band concert is set for Saturday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall. The band, under the direction of John Mahoney, will feature guest artists Brian Blade as drummer and pianist Jon Cowherd.

Admission for both concerts is $10 for general seating and $5 for students. Tickets and additional information are available through Loyola's ticket box office at (504) 865-3492.

As a youngster growing up in Shreveport, then New Orleans, Louisiana, Blade distilled the unique drumming styles and musical heritage of the nation's spiritual underbelly into a powerfully swinging percussive trademark. Playing drums in his father's church after an initial interest in the violin, Blade immersed himself in the work of Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Paul Motian, and even Keith Moon. Moving to New Orleans as a student at Loyola University and later University of New Orleans, Blade's perspective became broader

and deeper. When not gigging with Christopher Thomas and Nicholas Payton, he studied with David Lee Jr. and John Vidacovich, and came under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis. Blade also dipped into New Orleans culture, playing in street parades, clubs, and coffeehouses throughout the city. Now 29, Blade is currently touring with Wayne Shorter and with his own band, the Brian Blade Fellowship. Spirituality, sensitivity, honesty, loyalty; all these traits feed the theme of the Brian Blade Fellowship, which has two CDs out on Blue Note records. "I want the music to be a fellowship. That's what you want from the world as a whole," said Blade. "I want the music to project that kind of togetherness." From recording with Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan to performing on tour with Seal, Blade has shown deep musical instincts and a phenomenal gift for playing music texturally both thick and thin on the drums. Pat Metheny has said, "Brian has a quality only the really great guys have, the ultimate commodity in a rhythm section player, he can create a vibe. He has his own thing."

Jon Cowherd was born in Indianapolis, Ind. and grew up in Paducah Ky., where he studied piano, voice, and french horn. Cowherd earned bachelors degrees in both french horn performance and jazz studies on piano from Loyola University New Orleans, where he studied with Jack Gardner, Ellis Marsalis, John Mahoney, Mike Pellera and Steve Masakowski. While in New Orleans, he played with local musicians such as Tony Dagradi, Rick Margitza, Bill Huntington, James Singleton, and Johnny Vidacovich.

At this time cowherd met Blade who also attended Loyola. Soon after their first meeting, Jon formed his own quartet which featured Blade and trombonist Mark Mullins (Mulebone, Harry Connick Jr.) and featured Cowherd's own compositions. His mentors and teachers influenced him to move to New York. In 1993, he entered Manhattan School of Music to pursue a degree in Jazz Studies on piano. At Manhattan, he studied with Harold Danko and performed with Milt Hinton, George Coleman, Bobby Watson and others. In 1995, Cowherd received his Masters degree in Jazz Studies.

In 1997, Blade and Cowherd formed the Fellowship featuring musicians Christopher Thomas, Myron Walden, Melvin Butler, Dave Easley, Jeff Parker and Kurt Rosenwinkel. They recorded an album in the fall of 1997, which was produced by Daniel Lanois. The record included new compositions by Blade and Cowherd. From 1998-2000, they toured the U.S. and Europe, performing in jazz clubs such as the Village Vanguard, Small's and the Blue Note. In the fall of 1999, their second release, Perceptual, was recorded and co-produced by Blade and Cowherd. It features the Fellowship with Joni Mitchell and Daniel Lanois as well as originals from Cowherd and Blade.

Cowherd currently resides in New York and has also performed with Dave Binney, Phillip Harper, Peter Bernstein, Scott Colley, Leni Stern, Nancy Marano, Carla Cook and Claudia Acuna. Cowherd is also arranger and assistant conductor/pianist for the Broadway show Swing, featuring vocalist Anne Hampton Callaway.

The Loyola University Jazz Ensemble Festival is open to large or small elementary through junior college level ensembles. A panel of four expert musician/educators will adjudicate the groups offering constructive criticism on performance techniques. Participants in the festival attend workshops by Loyola jazz faculty and guest clinicians Blade and Cowherd.

Loyola University New Orleans College of Music, founded in 1932, gives students the opportunity to combine liberal studies with professional music courses in the only college of music conducted by the Jesuit fathers in the United States. The college's reputation for excellence is founded on the work of a faculty whose distinction as scholars, performers, and most importantly, as educators, has been nationally acclaimed. Loyola's music alumni have become successful in virtually every area of the professional music world. Visit Loyola University New Orleans on the World Wide Web at http://www.loyno.edu/music.

For more information, contact Reid Wick at (504) 865-2074, or via e-mail at wick@loyno.edu.