OU jazz concert to celebrate influential musicians

Katerina Mihailidis, Staff Reporter

Special lecturer Sean Dobbins will direct the Oakland University Jazz Band in its next performance, featuring artists Regina Carter and Thornetta Davis.

Carter, OU’s artist-in-residence, is a jazz violinist born with the passion to perform and to share her music with others, she said.

With that love and passion for sharing music, Carter said she tries to convey her own feelings and intent to her audience with every piece of her music.

Carter graduated from OU, and said she benefited from watching great artists perform on campus when she was a student. The artists worked with the students and played music with them.

“It’s important to come, to reach back and to help educate and to share the music with younger students and they’ll do the same thing,” she said.

Carter comes back to OU twice a year and always enjoys working with the students and watching the campus grow.

Carter said she appreciates having the chance to share the music she plays with younger musicians and people that are not familiar with America’s classical music. She loves watching people’s faces when they hear that music live.

“There’s definitely a difference in hearing the music live than hearing it on the recording,” she said.

Carter was chosen by OU Jazz Band director Dobbins because of her recent tribute project to Ella Fitzgerald, named “Ella: Accentuate the Positive.”

The concert is a tribute to Fitzgerald, one of the greatest jazz vocalists, and Stuff Smith, a great jazz violinist. Working together for the first time, Carter and Davis will bring a memorable performance to OU, in collaboration with OU Jazz Band, in tribute to Fitzgerald and Smith.

“[Fitzgerald’s] way of singing and her music had a way of really touching people,” Carter said. “It’s a celebration to Ella. This is her 100th birthday, so it’s a big year for her.”

Davis, a jazz vocalist who loves to sing and perform for the people who enjoy music, was chosen by Sean Dobbins to evoke the soul and bring back the spirit of Fitzgerald, according to Dobbins.

Davis recently released an album as well, called “Honest Woman” and in 2015 was named “Detroit’s Queen of the Blues.”

The OU jazz band has been rehearsing for the concert since the beginning of the fall semester, Dobbins said.

According to Dobbins, “the students’ preparation and the students’ dedication was key.”

The students come in prepared every week and don’t miss rehearsals, said Dobbins.

“They want to own the success in the concert and that’s major. Watching them demand the best out of each other and themselves,” Dobbins said.

“We wanted, most importantly, a memorable performance, something that people can look back on,” Dobbins said. “I hope when [attendees] leave the concert that they felt that we paid an honorable tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Thornetta Davis.”

“I also would like people to walk away and understand how serious we are about jazz at Oakland University and how serious we are about our whole MTD program.”

Carter encourages everyone to escape the craziness of the world, come appreciate the music and celebrate Ella.

“Enjoy the music, enjoy the love, the togetherness that we all bring into the music, keep your open minds about the arts [and] always support live music,” Davis said.

Oakland University’s Jazz Band is performing Nov. 2 in Varner Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 and can be purchased at the ticket booth in Varner or online. For more information visit [email protected].