The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music today announced the appointment of multiple Grammy Award winners and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as UCLA professors. The two jazz greats are part of the school’s Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.
This marks the first time these two artists have made such a major commitment to an educational institution, and the current class of students will be the first to learn from them on a regular basis.
“We are truly delighted to welcome Herbie and Wayne to the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music,” said Christopher Waterman, dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, which houses the school of music. “The arrival of these legends marks an important step in the growth of UCLA’s distinguished jazz program, which provides students with the opportunity to study with the renowned guitarist and NEA Jazz Master Kenny Burrell, award-winning flutist and composer James Newton and leading Los Angeles–based jazz musicians such as Dr. Bobby Rodriguez, Charley Harrison, Barbara Morrison, Michelle Weir, George Bohanon, Tamir Hendelman and Justo Almario.”
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA is a two-year graduate-level program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class; the current class includes seven students. The students, known as Thelonious Monk Fellows, will be taught each month by Hancock and Shorter throughout the academic year. The two professors will share their musical philosophies and the knowledge learned from their years of playing with the architects of jazz, including Miles Davis and Art Blakey. Both will focus on composition, improvisation and artistic expression, working with the students individually and as a group.
Additionally, Hancock and Shorter will lead master classes open to all UCLA students. Since the program began at UCLA in September 2012, Shorter has already taught for eight days and participated in a public performance with the Monk Fellows, and Hancock has taught for three days. On Dec. 6, 2012, Hancock and Shorter joined forces to conduct a historic master class at UCLA. This April, the Monk Fellows will accompany Hancock and Shorter to Istanbul to participate in a global, televised performance marking International Jazz Day.
“Wayne and I look forward to working with and guiding the new class of Monk Fellows over the next two years,” said Hancock, chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute. “These exceptionally gifted young artists are destined to become some of the most influential jazz musicians of their generation, and we are both looking forward to helping them forge successful careers in jazz performance. The mentoring experience will be profound for us, as well. The gift of inspiration in the classroom that develops from the master–apprentice relationship enhances our personal creativity on the bandstand and in the recording studio.”
In addition to these two legendary artists, the Monk Institute program at UCLA has been expanded to include Billy Childs, a world-class composer and the recipient of a coveted Guggenheim Fellowship. Also instructing the Monk Fellows are internationally renowned improvisation educators Hal Crook, Jerry Bergonzi and Dick Oatts, all of whom add a new dimension to the program by sharing their comprehensive knowledge of jazz, addressing all elements of the students’ playing and helping the students navigate the many styles and musical environments of jazz.
“When we established the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2007, one of our goals was to build on the stellar faculty and students in place and strengthen jazz as an essential, core component of the school’s program,” said Herb Alpert, chairman and founder of the Herb Alpert Foundation and principal donor to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “The addition of the preeminent Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance program brings a great richness of resources and talents to the mix, giving students even more opportunities to work with the world’s great jazz artists.”
All of the Thelonious Monk Fellows receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their monthly living expenses. The students study individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching and lectures on the jazz tradition. They also are encouraged to experiment in expanding jazz in new directions through their compositions and performances. The current class will be the first to graduate with a master’s degree in jazz performance from UCLA.
Since the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz launched its college-level jazz performance program in 1995, Monk Fellows have studied with world-renowned jazz artists Terence Blanchard, Ron Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jack DeJohnette, Barry Harris, Roy Haynes, Jimmy Heath, Dave Holland, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Danilo Pérez, Dianne Reeves, Horace Silver and Clark Terry, among many others. These jazz legends serve as artists-in-residence in the college program for one week each month.
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance students and instructors present a number of major concerts and community outreach programs throughout the United States and overseas. International highlights have included performances at the celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the coronation of the king of Thailand, the Summit of the Americas in Chile before 34 heads of state, the United Nations’ “Day of Philosophy” event in Paris sponsored by UNESCO, and the Tokyo Jazz Festival. The students have also participated in tours of China, Egypt, Argentina, Peru, India and Vietnam with Herbie Hancock.
“The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is honored to have Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock joining the faculty of our college program at UCLA, where they will share their vast musical experiences and expansive vision for jazz, past, present and future,” said Tom Carter, president of the Thelonious Monk Institute.
The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is a nonprofit education organization established in memory of Thelonious Monk, the legendary jazz pianist and composer. Monk was one of the primary architects of bebop, and his impact as both a performer and composer has had a profound influence on every genre of music. His more than 70 compositions are classics that continue to inspire artists in all disciplines. Monk believed the best way to learn jazz was from a master of the music. The institute follows that same philosophy by bringing together the greatest living jazz musicians to teach and inspire young people, offering the most promising young musicians college-level training by America’s jazz masters through its fellowship program in jazz performance and presenting public school–based jazz education programs around the world. Helping to fill the tremendous void in arts education left by budget cuts in public school funding, the institute provides school programs free of charge and uses jazz as the medium to encourage imaginative thinking, creativity, a positive self-image and respect for one’s own and others’ cultural heritage.
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is devoted to the performance and study of music in all of its global diversity, including world music, popular music, jazz and classical music. The school’s curriculum combines musical diversity, interdisciplinary studies, liberal arts values and professional training in a way that takes advantage of the school’s position within a great research university. Students develop the practical and critical skills that prepare them for careers not only in professional performance and academia but in music journalism, the entertainment business, and the public and nonprofit sectors.