Jazz here at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz (Kunst Uni Graz or "KUG" for short) has a long and proud tradition that began in 1965, as the first jazz department formed on the continent. The "KUG" has since remained one of Europe’s leading jazz schools and has continued to evolve in the effort to prepare our students for a life in music. One of the areas of growth in the last several years has been in the area of jazz composition. This area of emphasis is also the focus of the CD you have in your hands. We are very proud to present two of our leading ensembles on this recording: KUG Jazz Orchestra and the KUG Composers Ensemble. The focus of both of these ensembles is to perform the music of our student composers and arrangers.
KUG Composers Ensemble is a 15 piece group that includes "typical" jazz instruments as well as french horn, tuba and string quartet. The emphasis here is, of course, on composing and arranging for mixed ensembles and learning about orchestration, form, colour and texture. The interplay of composition and improvisation is also an important part of this ensemble, as well as combining elements of and performers from the worlds of jazz and classical music. KUG Jazz Orchestra is the flagship ensemble of our department, with 18 of our top students performing over 20 concerts during the academic year. This ensemble performs the music of our student composers, guest artists and important historical literature for large jazz ensemble. This year we were exceptionally lucky to have jazz legend Bob Brookmeyer as our 2009 Artist in Residence.
Mr. Brookmeyer was in Graz for a four week residency and performed several concerts with our KUG Jazz Orchestra as well as working intensely with our students in the areas of composition and improvisation. We decided to include a couple of his pieces on the CD as a tribute to the way the Bob inspired everyone here in Graz during his time with us. We have an ethnically and musically diverse student body, with young musicians from 21 countries who have come to Graz to study jazz. This diversity naturally reflects itself in the music created by our students, and is another reason why Graz is one of the most interesting places in Europe to study jazz. I will let the music speak for itself, because the wonderful colours, textures, sounds and musical fantasy presented here cannot be aptly described by my humble words. There are wonderful experiments combining jazz with modern classical music techniques, clever juxtapositions of composition and improvisation, elements of serial music and minimalism next to pop music harmonic progressions, hot jazz blowing against serene string serenading and even Madonna gets her turn to stop by and say "Grüß Gott!". Of course the players of both ensembles are more than up to the challenges presented to them by the writers. Our students also happen to have some of the best teachers in Europe to help them along their way. Our faculty here in Graz is made up of 39 exceptional musicians who have top professional experience and are all active performers, touring internationally and having performed with some of the biggest names in the jazz world. Graz - A great place to study jazz!
Edward Partyka Department Chairman Jazz Institute
Silver Lining (Bob Brookmeyer) valve trombone: Andrew Murray [05:15]
Orpheus' Dream (Robert Jan Lutje Spelberg) valve trombone: Andrew Murray / trumpet: Tomaz Gajst [08:07]