Universities unite to honor jazz

Florida State University’s College of Music and Florida A&M University’s Office of Black Diasporan Culture presented Scotty Barnhart and Friends: A Tribute to the Origins and Evolution of Jazz, last Friday in Lee Hall.

For the first time the two music programs came together on one stage.

“I didn‘t know the two programs had never been together, and when I found out what Scotty wanted to do, I knew we had to make it happen,” said Origins’ coordinator Frank Stephenson.

The night was an historic one for the Tallahassee music community.

“This is one of the greatest things I have ever been apart of,” said Scotty Barnhart, jazz artist, a professor at FSU, and FAMU alumnus.

The event brought together some of the greatest music scholars and performers in the area.

“When they started to play in rehearsal it was unbelievable how it all just came together,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart spearheaded the event as apart of origins week celebrating the 150 years since Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. He teaches, practices and wrote a book on the evolution of jazz.

“Everything evolves, the universe, culture, art and music. I‘m proud to see American culture and our own music began and evolve tonight on this stage, and Scotty knows that better than anyone,” said Stephenson.

The event was both educational and entertaining as Barnhart took the audience on a musical journey through the 110 year odyssey of jazz.

According to Professor Don Gibson, Dean of the FSU College of Music, this week has been the most overwhelmingly attended week, so much so they had to turn people away at several events.

“Jazz is what we are,” said Gibson.

Both programs believed this was the best way to end such a successful week.

Professor  Ralph Turner, dean  of FAMU College of Art and Sciences said that jazz signifies the depth of human spirit and he is proud this event could be a manifestation of that.

“Jazz music reflects freedom born out of oppression,” Turner said.

Throughout the night educators, singer, dancers, instrumentalists, and music students graced the stage with the sounds of everything from ragtime to contemporary jazz.

Shala Armotrading a 22-year-old junior nursing student from Orlando found out about the event from her Caribbean studies class and attended because she tries to support events like this at FAMU. She said the event showcased a lot of good music and had a great vibe.

“I like to see how they put the different sounds together,” said Armotrading, “I appreciate music, period.”

Stephenson said he hopes this leads to FAMU and FSU doing more mutual productions together, he believes it would be great for the community, the students, and the universities.

“Just look at all the support, there is so much value in this collaboration,” said Stephenson, “I wish they would do this every year, what better way to communicate than through music.”