For two weeks this month, students in the School of Music’s Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program will be able to study with composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Camille Thurman—an artist who is quickly becoming one of the standard bearers of jazz. The residency is made possible by the Robinson Family Fund, established by Ward Robinson (’19 PBC Jazz, ’10 MPH) and Pamela Pittman.
Professor of Double Bass Steve Haines says the gift and the residency will help the Jazz Studies program make great strides in the diversity of the student experience:
“We could not have done this without the generosity of the Robinson Family. Ward and Pam gave us a significant gift to be used to battle inequity and inequality, and to bring special people like Ms. Thurman here to inspire our students. It’s critical that students get to rub elbows with the very best performing artists in the world. Often relationships are formed which are of mutual benefit to our students. Guest artists help reinforce what the students are learning from the professors here.”
Camille Thurman is a tenor saxophonist and vocalist. She also plays bass clarinet, flute, and piccolo. Her rich saxophone timbre has been compared to Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon, while her vocal approach—including an impressive scatting ability—has been classified alongside those of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter.
Thurman will be in Greensboro for ten days. During that time, she will teach lessons, coach jazz combos, and lecture in a number of jazz courses. The Thurman residency will also benefit students in the Guilford County Schools during NC JazzGirls Day, a day of mentorship and lessons for middle and high school students. The residency will conclude with a concert in which Thurman will play with the School of Music’s Jazz Ensemble I and the UNCG Honors High School Jazz Band.
Haines says he’s excited by the possibilities this residency offers:
“Our music is linear through history. Ms. Thurman has clearly been influenced by the geniuses of our history, including North Carolina’s very own John Colrane. She carries his legacy (for example, she just completed a residency at Jazz at Lincoln Center, performing some of Coltrane’s music). She’s also a double threat in that she is both an instrumentalist and a vocalist. And vocal jazz should surely be developed here at UNCG.”
The Robinson Family Fund will support future residencies, one each semester. The School of Music plans to welcome world-class trumpet Sean Jones for a residency this spring.