University of Pittsburgh
September 14, 2006

Pitt Jazz Seminar Outreach Program Teams With UNESCO's International Music Council for Event in Paris

Panel discussions, master classes, and concert mark 50th anniversary of the 1st International Congress of Black Writers and Artists

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh and the International Music Council (IMC) of UNESCO will host an event Sept. 21-22 at the University of Paris-La Sorbonne that will include a concert, roundtable discussion, and master classes by legendary jazz artists for students from around the world.

The event will be held in conjunction with the International Congress of Black Writers and Artists, which was first held at UNESCO's world headquarters in Paris 50 years ago.

Pitt Professor Nathan Davis, head of Pitt's Jazz Studies Program, will serve as musical director. He was invited to participate by the event's executive director, Damien Pwono, a former student of Davis' who received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Pitt in ethnomusicology in 1986 and 1992, respectively. A former IMC secretary general, Pwono hopes to build on the success of a similar Pitt-UNESCO event held in Paris in 2004.

Davis will moderate a roundtable discussion Sept. 21 titled "Jazz: From Its Humble Beginnings on the Plantation in the U.S. to a World Music" at the Amphitheatre Descartes, Paris-La Sorbonne. Participants include Mike Hennessey, former editor-in-chief, Billboard Magazine; Francis Hofstein, art critic for Jazz Hot and Jazz Times; Ursula Davis, associate professor of communications, Penn State University; Michel Fabre, professor emeritus at Paris-La Sorbonne, Mike Zwerin, historian and jazz critic; and Steve Jambot, Ph.D. student at l'Université de Paris.

The master classes will take place the morning of Sept. 22 and the concert that evening. In addition to Davis, guest participants include Benny Golson, saxophone; Maurice Brown, trumpet; Claus Reichstaller, trumpet; Patrice Rushen, piano; Abraham Laboriel, bass; and Billy Cobham, drums.

During the concert intermission, two individuals will be honored posthumously for their contributions to jazz. Pitt Provost James V. Maher and International Federation of Choral Music executive committee president Lupwishi Mbuyamba will present Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Awards from Pitt's International Academy of Jazz and IMC to the late Maurice Cullaz, noted jazz historian, critic, reporter, and producer at Radio France, and the late Alioune Diop, Senegalese editor and cultural theorist. Diop was the driving force behind the 1st International Congress of Black Writers and Artists. Following the concert, Maher and Pitt Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Robert Hill will host a reception for Pitt alumni living in and around Paris.

"It is very gratifying to see the legacy of the Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert extend to Paris," said Maher. "We strongly believe the University of Pittsburgh is helping to carry out UNESCO's vision of a genuine dialogue based on respect for shared values and individual cultures. The sounds of jazz, born in the United States, have become part of this international language."

"Our plan is to bring more partners to the strengthening of the Pitt Jazz Seminar Outreach Program as an incubator for artistic creativity, a forum for reflection on music in society, and a cultural event that broadens people's participation in a diverse musical life," added Pwono.