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Thursday, October 2, 2014


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Students, faculty await benefits of jazz donation




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Jazz studies freshman Duncan Tarr plays the double bass in his improvisational jazz class on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at the Music Building. Jazz studies recently received a $1 million endowment from MSUFCU. It was the largest investment ever in the music college’s curriculum. Katie Stiefel/The State News



The MSU Jazz Studies program received a $1 million donation from the MSU Federal Credit Union, or MSUFCU, on Sunday. Students and faculty see the endowment as an opportunity to push the program to new heights.

Assistant professor of jazz trombone Michael Dease said with the donation, the program will bring in world-renowned musicians not only to perform, but also teach and mentor students in the jazz studies program.

“We will see immediate impact in the fall of 2013,” he said. “Certainly a gift like this has brought a lot of attention to the jazz studies program here, which will positively impact enrollment. The students always look forward to seeing professional jazz artists. It’s one of the highlights of studying here at MSU.”

Dease said the endowment was a way of acknowledging the standard of excellence in the jazz program.

“MSU students have gone on to distinguish themselves with competitive jazz environments in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and around the world,” he said.

April Clobes, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MSUFCU, said the gift was their way of giving back to more than just the university.

“(The endowment will) have a positive impact on not only MSU, but the community,” Clobes said.

Jazz studies junior Lafe King, a member of Be-Bop Spartans, said he is excited to see how the endowment improves the program.

“It’s going to be a chance for us to really move into the upper echelon of programs nationally,” King said. “It’ll also allow us to have great access to people, such as Branford Marsalis or Sonny Rollins— just any great jazz musician would be able to hang with us, and we’ll be able to learn from them.”

Jazz especially is important for King, who said the improvisation and freedom is what sets it apart from other musical genres.

“It’s the only music where you’re supposed to let yourself be apart of the equation,” he said. “But jazz is really the freest of the artistic forms … it’s closer to you than it is to
a composer.”


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