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AU News

Jazz Fusion Combo to Perform at National Conference

September 22, 2022
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Following a highly selective process, the Anderson University Jazz Fusion Combo was chosen to perform at the Jazz Education Network Conference in January 2023.

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Anderson University’s Jazz Fusion Combo will share the stage with groups from across the nation at the JEN (Jazz Education Network) Conference in Orlando, Florida in January 2023.

According to Dr. Derick Cordoba, director of the Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music in the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, the combo was chosen by a panel of judges in a highly selective process. 

“Almost every school with a jazz program in the U.S. applies, certainly all of the major ones. You’re really up against all of the top schools, and it’s definitely not a foregone conclusion that you get in, Dr. Cordoba said. “I braced the students and said ‘We’re probably not going to get in, but let’s give it our best shot and see what happens.’ We were excited to learn that we were invited to perform.”

The combo consists of Michael Ford, Sincere Hatten, Otis Todd, Dalvin Gray, Sadler Jones and Max Milian. 

“So very honored to share this massive achievement by our band, department and university,” said Milian, the one alumni member of the ensemble, in a social media post. “This is a testament to the fact that a person-focused education that champions artistry from young men and women, and leads with grace over intensity, is as effective as any other.”

Dr. Cordoba commented that the combo started rehearsing together for the application at the start of 2022.

The jazz fusion sound came onto the music scene in the late 1960s and rose to prominence with musicians like Gary Burton, Miles Davis and Chick Corea leading the way with an energetic blending of jazz and rock music.

“It’s usually instrumentally-driven. It’s jazz harmony and improvisation with a rock kind of edge to it,” Dr. Cordoba said.

The combo recorded six songs at the South Carolina School of the Arts, including recording/mixing in the Anderson University Music Media Studio—three songs with vocals and three songs without vocals—then submitted to the JEN judges for consideration. According to Dr. Cordoba, one of the songs is an original composition from ensemble member Michael Ford. Out of the submissions, the judges selected the three instrumental songs for performing.

Dr. Cordoba continued, “We’re going to go for the whole conference and students are going to have the chance to go to clinics and workshops with some of the leading professionals in the world of jazz. They’re going to be surrounded by their peers who are also super passionate about playing this music. It’s really a great opportunity for them to witness concerts, master classes and clinics. They’re going to learn a lot and they’re going to be inspired, and hopefully they’ll do some of that inspiring themselves.”

The AU Jazz Fusion Combo will perform January 5, 2023, 4 p.m. on the Conservatory Stage at the conference.


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