The MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (FJE) hosts New York-based drummer and composer George Schuller and vocalist Ilona Tipp in a program titled "Drumming a New World" on Saturday, May 12 at 8pm in Kresge Auditorium.
The latest in a long line of musical Schullers (he's the son of composer and conductor Gunther Schuller), Mr. Schuller is one of Boston and New York's favorite jazz drummers and composers. "His music is a wonderful amalgam of jazz and contemporary classical music with a strong sense of soul," said Frederick Harris, director of the Festival Jazz Ensemble.
Mr. Schuller first came to MIT in the early 1980s to host a jazz radio show at WMBR when he was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). He returned to MIT last month to rehearse with the FJE and on April 20 for a concert with the Tony Malaby Trio, preceded by a successful master class with MIT jazz students on how to improvise in a free jazz style.
Vocalist Ilona Tipp also received her musical training at the NEC. She began her career as a classical operatic singer and moved to the challenge of improvisational singing. "Most classical, pop, ethnic and jazz singers use only part of their voices," wrote the Boston Globe's Richard Dyer. "Tipp gives us everything she has, and that's irresistible."
The concert will feature the premiere of Mr. Schuller's new jazz ensemble arrangement of his work, Ripe (featuring himself on drums); his tribute to Gil Evans (Evanescent); and his arrangement of Brazilian composer Cavaquinne's Folas Secas. He will perform a duet with Ms. Tipp, who will also sing an a cappella version of Duke Ellington's Come Sunday.
In addition to preparing for the May 12 concert, the FJE is working on a new CD. On May 3, they were joined by former FJE Director Herb Pomeroy to record Tale of the Skyswimmer, a work the ensemble commissioned from composer Magali Souriau in honor of Mr. Pomeroy's 70th birthday.
The May 12 concert will be preceded by a talk by Mr. Schuller and Dr. Harris at 7pm. Admission is $2. For more information, call x3-2826.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 9, 2001.