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2019 Spring Class

Contemporary Jazz

Instructor: Frank Johnson

Wednesdays •  3/20-5/8 • 1:00 PM-3:00 PM

Location: Randall 248
This course is a listener’s guide to contemporary jazz of the past 35 years. We will listen to noteworthy and influential artists of the post-bop era. Each class will examine a range of musical settings from small group ensembles, piano trios, Afro Latin jazz, female vocalists, and larger bands. The survey will include dozens of musicians such as long-established figures like McCoy Tyner, the Marsalis family and Cedar Walton as well as lesser-known artists such as Emily Remler and Ralph Moore. The small group ensembles will be led by a wide range of instrumentalists. The primary objective of the course is to expose the casual listener to the considerable roster of contemporary musicians who are keeping acoustic jazz vibrant and innovative. Classroom

The course is a survey of recorded jazz during the past 35 years. The classes are designed to expose the casual listener to a wide range of mainstream jazz musicians, Afro Latin jazz and contemporary female vocalists. The topics by week are listed below:

Small ensemble groups led by: the Marsalis Family, Cedar Walton (piano), Pat Martino (guitar), Steve Davis (trombone), Joshua Redman (tenor sax), Helen Sung (piano), Antonio Hart (alto sax), Gary Smulyan (baritone sax), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Tommy Flanagan (piano), Billy Childs (piano), Russell Malone (guitar).

Small ensemble groups led by: Ahmad Jamal (piano), David Hazeltine (piano), Craig Handy (tenor sax), Jimmy Cobb (drums), Vincent Herring (alto sax), John Hicks (piano), Heads of State, Roy Hargrove (trumpet), Geri Allen (piano), Stefon Harris (vibes), Jimmy Ponder (guitar), Ben Riley (drums), James Williams (piano).

Big Bands: Roy Hargrove (trumpet), Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin Orchestra (piano), Dizzy Gillespie All Star Bug Band, Christian McBride Big Band (bass), Orrin Evans Captain Black Big Band (piano), Mingus Big Band, McCoy Tyner Big Band (piano), Papo Vazquez & the Mighty Pirates (trombone), Bobby Watson Big Band (alto sax), Jimmy Heath (tenor sax).

Female vocalists: Dianna Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Roberto Gambarini, Dena DeRose, Karrin Allyson, Nnenna Freelon, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carla Cook, Eliane Elias, Dianne Reeves, Catherine Russell, Rene Marie, Cheryl Bentyne, Nicole Henry, Jane Monheit, Melody Gardot, Esperanza Spaulding, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jazzmeia Horn.

Small group ensembles led by: Keith Jarrett (piano), Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Justin Robinson (alto sax), Louis Hayes (drums), Benny Green (piano), Kenny Garrett (alto sax), Mark Whitfield (guitar), Don Braden (tenor sax), Mulgrew Miller (piano), Christian McBride (bass), Terell Stafford (trumpet), Renee Rosnes (piano).

Small group ensembles led by: McCoy Tyner (piano), Brad Mehldau (piano), Buster Williams (bass), Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax), Harold Mabern (piano), Anthony Wonsey (piano), Ralph Moore (tenor sax), Joe Henderson (tenor sax), George Cables (piano), Bobby Watson (alto sax), Stephen Scott (piano), Donald Harrison, (alto sax), Elis Marsalis (piano).

Afro Latin jazz: Chucho Valdes (piano), Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars, Arturo O’Farrill & Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (piano), Rebeca Mauleon (piano), Ray Barretto (conga), Wayne Wallace (trombone), Roberto Fonseca (piano), Hilton Ruiz (piano), Maraca (flute), Bobby Sanabria (drums), Eddie Palmieri (piano), Conrad Herwig (trombone) – Brian Lynch (trumpet), Cubanismo, Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

Small ensembles led by: Kenny Barron (piano), Steve Turre (trombone), George Coleman (tenor sax), Javon Jackson (tenor sax), Christian Sands (piano), Warren Wolf (vibes), Emily Remler (guitar), Larry Willis (piano), Willie Jones III (drums), Black Art Jazz Collective, Freddie Hendrix (trumpet), Jason Moran (piano).

Class size 6-24 students
24 seats remaining


Frank Johnson has a lifelong passion and interest in African-American music: jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, soul, and Afro-Latin. He has a collection of over 4,000 albums covering these genres. In addition, he has a personal library of over 250 books on African-American musical styles, musicians and cultural influences. Frank is a graduate of University of Maine with a degree in Political Science and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives of State and Local Government.