Jazz @Rutgers 250: Music, Art and the Written Word

Published On: November 22nd, 2015

Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of Rutgers

Jazz @Rutgers 250: Music, Art and the Written Word – March 2, 2016

Location: Rutgers University – Newark, Paul Robeson Center, Essex Room, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ. 4:30 – 7:00pm.   Reception followed at the nearby Dana Library Galleries across the Norman Samuels Plaza from the Robeson Center where the Art and Written Word exhibitions were located, 7:00-9:30pm. Exhibitions remained through March.

Attendees enjoyed performances by the Leo Johnson Quartet and the NJPAC Jazz for Teens, a solo art exhibition by the Brodsky Center featuring paintings and prints on jazz by noted artist Faith Ringgold, and an exhibition of the written word by the New Jersey Center for the Book celebrating the works of Walter Dean Myers, NJ authors, and the Center’s retrospective on its literacy programs and events. The event was organized by the Rutgers Retired Faculty and Staff Advisory Council. Co-sponsors were: The Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies, the Brodsky Center, the New Jersey Center for the Book, and Rutgers University Libraries.

Jazz Performance – Essex Room, Robeson Center 4:30 – 7:00pm:

Leo Johnson (October 19,1939) who plays tenor sax came to Newark in the late ’50s before joining the service and becoming a member of the U.S. Air Force Band in Europe. After his tour ended, he returned to Newark and has been a star on the jazz scene ever since. These days, he fronts his own quartet, but in the past he has played in the bands of Specks Williams, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Bill Doggett, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff and Chico Mendoza. Johnson served as musical director of Little Jimmy Scott’s band and also toured with organist Rhoda Scott, recording with her in Paris. He holds a BA in music performance and a master’s in jazz history from Rutgers-Newark. Over the years, Johnson has also served as a mentor to many young musicians who either lived locally or came to the New York metropolitan area seeking a career in jazz, artists that include Cassandra Wilson, Winard and Phillip Harper, Terence Blanchard, Victor Jones, Andy McCloud, Dave Eubanks, Alan Watson and Regina Belle. Johnson has released two CDs in recent years: “It’s About Time” and “Message to Mankind.” He is the musical director of the Newark Jazz Elders, who were proclaimed in 2007 “New Jersey’s living legends jazz band” by Jon Corzine, then Governor of New Jersey.

NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens (JFT) brings together 7th-12th grade instrumental and vocal students from diverse communities in the tri-state region (NJ/NY/PA) for multi-faceted, intensive instruction in jazz. The Music Director and faculty are professional touring musicians and teaching artists who mentor students in the time-honored tradition of the genre.

Exhibitions and Reception– John Cotton Dana Library 7:00pm:

Faith Ringgold has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards (for painting and sculpture) and 23 honorary doctorates, one of which is from her alma mater The City College of New York. Ringgold is professor emeritus at the University of California in San Diego, California and is represented by ACA Galleries in New York City. Ringgold has close ties to Rutgers and to its Brodsky Center. Her first big survey exhibition was at the Zimmerli Art Museum; she has worked on projects at and with the Brodsky Center; she has received a Rutgers Honorary degree; and Rutgers gives one of her prints as the official gift to honorary degree recipients.

For more than a decade the New Jersey Center for the Book (NJCB) has advanced a dynamic literacy agenda, championing its definition as the ability to read and write while extending it to include literacies emerging in the 21st century. NJCB initiatives reach out to the richly diverse communities of our state, from those residing in our challenged inner cities to those in our outlying suburbs. A retrospective of NJCB’s literacy programs and events, including works of Walter Dean Myers and authors of NJCB’s e-book mystery released on March 17, 2016.

Walter Dean Myers (August 12, 1937 – July 1, 2014) was an American writer of children’s books best known for young adult literature. He wrote more than one hundred books including picture books and nonfiction and won the Coretta Scott King Award for African-American authors five times.   Critics have called him “one of the most important authors of young adult literature of our age.” His 1988 novel Fallen Angels is one of the books most frequently challenged in the U.S. because of its adult language and its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. Myers was the third U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, appointed by the Library of Congress serving in 2012 and 2013. He also sat on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Jazz @Rutgers 250: Music, Art and the Written Word was FREE and open to the public.