The Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble and student musicians from Albemarle High School will perform with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and bassist Paul Langosch at the Moss Arts Center on Nov. 4.

The concert, which will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, is a celebration of an intergenerational exchange of a classic American music.

Rosenwinkel, an American jazz guitarist and keyboardist who came to prominence in the 1990s, is recognized worldwide as one of the most influential guitarists and composers of the turn of the century. He has collaborated with Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, Mark Turner, Joshua Redman, and Chris Potter, along with jazz legends Joe Henderson, Paul Motian, and Gary Burton.

“I got a chance to see Kurt Rosenwinkel last May at the Blue Note in New York City,” said Grant Morro, of Darien, Connecticut, bassist of the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble and a sophomore majoring in applied mathematics and music performance. “Just watching him play was one of the best experiences I've ever had, and now I get a chance to perform with him. This is something I'll remember for the rest of my life.”

Guest bassist Langosch has worked with many leaders in the jazz world, including George Benson, Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, Phil Woods, Tal Farlow, Al Cohn, Mose Allison, Johnny Hartman, Bud Shank, Zoot Sims, and Barney Kessel. In 1985 Langosch was invited by Tony Bennett to become a permanent member of his trio. Since retiring from touring with Bennett in 2008, he has worked with such artists as Michael Feinstein, Christine Ebersole, Mary Ann Redmond, and Middle Eastern music virtuoso Simon Shaheen. 

Also performing on the program will be the Albemarle High School Jazz Ensemble from Charlottesville, Virginia, under the direction of Greg Thomas. Thomas is passionate about teaching music to his students.

“I pretend to be miserable when I go in the teacher’s lounge so I blend in,” Thomas said, “but the reality is that I work with incredibly motivated and talented kids everyday who want to connect with music in mature ways.”

The high school students are thrilled to perform with the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble and the professional guest artists, Thomas added. “We are deeply honored to be included in this concert at Virginia Tech. That connection to the next level is so important to students as they make critical decisions about their future.”

The joint performance allows students in the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble to provide mentorship to the young musicians, and it enables all the students to listen to and play with leading jazz musicians.

Jason Crafton, director of the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble, said that such an exchange of music and talent across generations and abilities is encouraged in jazz music, a form that was itself made by an exchange of styles.

“Jazz music is the embodiment of our diverse country,” Crafton said. “It is an amalgam of African, European, and Native American influences; an aural representation of who we are as Americans. Jazz is relevant because it is the basis for the vast majority of the music we listen to today. If you like hip-hop, pop music, or any music where you tap your foot on 2 and 4, then you’re listening to music that comes from the American jazz tradition.”

Like Thomas, Crafton loves his job.

“Directing the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble is one of my favorite parts of my job, primarily because of the students I get the opportunity to work with," Crafton said. "Students find their way into the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble because they bring a great deal of energy and musicianship to each and every rehearsal. I learn just as much from them as they do from me.”

Tickets and parking

Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble tickets, which are $10 for general admission and $7 for students, may be purchased online, at the Moss Arts Center’s box office, or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

The Moss Arts Center is located at 190 Alumni Mall on the campus of Virginia Tech. Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Susan Sanders at 540-231-5200 or email during regular business hours at least eight business days prior to the event.

Written by Kristin Rose Kelly of Brooklyn, New York, a graduate student studying directing and public dialogue in the School of Performing Arts.

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