Jazz Community Seminar

During these challenging times, the jazz faculty has been pursuing ways to enhance our students’ learning experience through the pandemic. We are excited to tell you about the jazz “community seminar” that we are offering on Fridays from 3-3:50 PM, providing students and faculty a chance to come together and spend time with many people that they would otherwise be studying, performing and socializing with in person. During the Fall 2020 semester, guests included Helen Sung, Jeff Coffin, Etienne Charles, Roxy Coss, and Keith Carlock. Guests slated for the Spring 2021 semester include Stefon Harris (as part of an extended virtual residency), and Katisse Buckingham. In addition to guests, the seminar will include presentations by faculty and students, including playing and talking about faculty and student recording projects in the current era. The community seminar takes place via Zoom every Friday, 3:00-3:50 P.M. Any jazz major who is not registered for the seminar can contact a jazz faculty member to receive an invitation to the Zoom meetings.


About our guest artists:

Omar Thomas (1/21)

Hailed by Herbie Hancock as showing “great promise as a new voice in the further development of jazz in the future,” educator, arranger, and award-winning composer Omar Thomas (b. 1984) has created music extensively in the contemporary jazz ensemble idiom. Omar previously served as an Associate Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music and a Visiting Professor in Music Theory at The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. He has thrice been awarded the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from Harvard University, where he served as a Teaching Fellow for four years. He was awarded the Boston Music Award’s “Jazz Artist of the Year” in 2012. In 2017, he was selected to participate in the Cité Internationale des Arts residency in Paris, and in 2019 was the chosen recipient of the prestigious National Bandmasters Association/Revelli Award, honoring excellence in wind band composition.

Omar’s music has been performed in concert halls and on stages across the country and internationally. His work is featured on Dianne Reeves’s Grammy Award-winning album, “Beautiful Life.” His big band, the 18-piece Omar Thomas Large Ensemble was formed in 2008. The group’s first album, “I Am,” debuted at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart. Their second release, “We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece In Four Movements,” has been hailed by Grammy Award-winning drummer, composer, and producer Terri Lyne Carrington as being a “thought provoking, multi-layered masterpiece” which has “put him in the esteemed category of great artists.” Says Terri Lyne: “Omar Thomas will prove to be one of the more important composer/arrangers of his time.”

Katisse Buckingham (2/5)

Katisse Buckingham is a saxophonist/flautist/bandleader who resides in Los Angeles. He has performed and/or recorded with Yellowjackets, Prince, Billy Childs, Dr. Dre (including The Chronic), Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers, Andy Summers, Zawinul Legacy Band, Airto & Flora Purim, LA Guitar Quartet, Brian Auger, Amos Lee, Strunz & Farah, Down To The Bone, Snoop Dog, Rakim, Anderson.Paak, Colin Hay, Ebi, Poncho Sanchez, MSM Schmidt (including Life with Allan Holdsworth and Dave Weckl), Don Grusin, Pete Yorn, John Daversa, Paris, The Angel, Mongorama, Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, Scott Kinsey Group, Gordon Goodwin, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Tribe Called Quest), LA Saxophone Union, J.D. Souther, Lyle Workman, Russ Irwin (Aerosmith), Oscar Hernandez, Dave Douglas, David Binney, Hubert Laws, Virgil Donati, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Erskine, Jimmy Haslip, Michael Buble, Lionel Richie, Judith Hill, and Vanessa Paradis among others. He has played on numerous films including (improvising) the “Jazz Flute” scene for the Will Ferrell film Anchorman- The Legend of Ron Burgundy (featured in the Hal Leonard book- 25 Great Flute Solos), the Golden Globe winning score to the Robert Redford film All Is Lost and is a featured soloist on the Universal Pictures animated film Minions, Minions 2, Warner Bros Smallfoot, Crazy Rich Asians, La La Land (with John Legend), The Jesus Rolls (sequel to The Big Lebowski), Between Two Ferns- The Movie, Sponge Bob 3 (Hans Zimmer). Television shows include The SimpsonsPerpetual GraceLove (Judd Apatow), The Kaminsky MethodThe Spoils of Babylon (Will Ferrell), Luke Cage, Chi, Lovecraft Country, Penny Dreadful, among others. Katisse also composed and performed the ‘flute only’ score to the upcoming film Let’s Scare Julie To Death (due out in 2020). Clinics and masterclasses at USC, UCLA, Cal State Northridge, University of Montana, Sacramento State, University of Idaho, Cal State Long Beach, Azuza Pacific University,West Texas A&M, Pomona College, Cal Arts, and University of Miami.

Stefon Harris (2/19)

UT Jazz Studies is excited to welcome musician, educator, developer, and thought leader Stefon Harris for a five-visit virtual residency during the Spring 2021 semester. Mr. Harris is one of the leading jazz musicians and educators in the field. WBGO radio named his recent recording Sonic Creed “Jazz Album of the Year,” as he continues to chart new territory with his band Blackout. Director of Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music, he has taught at universities throughout the world in person and virtually. Mr. Harris will lead classes focusing on ear training and harmony on Wednesdays from Feb. 10-Mar. 3, and will give a clinic at the Jazz Orchestra Community Seminar on Friday, February 19. For further information, please visit (jazz.music.utexas.edu), or email Jeff Hellmer at jhellmer@austin.utexas.edu.


For more info on Stefon Harris and his musical, educational and other endeavors, please check out his website: https://www.stefonharris.com/