News from the Heights

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Le Moyne Plans Series of Events Around Unveiling of Eric Dolphy Statue

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (For Immediate Release) … To mark the 40th anniversary of the first celebration of Dolphy Day at Le Moyne, the College has launched “The Eric Dolphy Project,” an effort encompassing the commission of a bronze sculpture of legendary jazz musician Eric Dolphy and a series of events around the statue’s unveiling on the campus on Wednesday, April 7. (The student-focused Dolphy Day will still take place later in April.)

Dolphy Day is traditionally celebrated on the first warm day in April. The tradition came about when a group of students decided to take a break from classes to enjoy the warmth of a spring day in April 1971. Originally taking its name from the Frank Zappa song, "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue," students spent the day listening to, among other genres, Dolphy's jazz music blaring from speakers -- and by the end of that day “Dolphy Day” was born.

In addition to the Dolphy sculpture – which will be the only one like it in the world – highlights of this year’s anniversary events include a talk by renowned music icon Gunther Schuller and a performance by the Russ Johnson Quintet of Dolphy’s most famous album, “Out to Lunch.”

“Having a vibrant tradition like Dolphy Day is a testament to the immense pride and strong connection so many have for Le Moyne and their time on the Heights,” said Le Moyne President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D. “The College wanted to mark and celebrate this milestone in a unique and significant way.”

The schedule of events for April 7 includes:

Recollections from the legendary Gunther Schuller
4:30 p.m., Curtin Special Events Room, Campus Center
Co-founder of the Modern Jazz Society in 1955, Gunther Schuller first played professionally in 1943 at the age of 15, and began his jazz career by recording on the French horn with Miles Davis in 1949. His influence on music, and jazz in particular, over the past 60 years is immense, and includes compositions he wrote and conducted for, among other jazz pioneers, Eric Dolphy. Schuller’s awards and accomplishments include Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and a lifetime achievement award by Downbeat magazine for his many contributions to jazz.

Unveiling of the Eric Dolphy Statue, followed by reception in the James Commons
6 p.m., Dablon Quad
From its prominent location in the Dablon quad, this life-size bronze sculpture will stand watch over future Dolphy Days for years to come. Created by twin brother artists Kyle and Kelly Phelps, the sculpture will depict Eric Dolphy wailing a jazz riff on his alto saxophone. The sculpture is the only such piece of art in the world honoring Dolphy, one of the jazz world's true legends.

Performance of Dolphy's “Out to Lunch” album by the Russ Johnson Quintet
7:30 p.m., W. Carroll Coyne Center for the Performing Arts
Le Moyne’s W. Carroll Coyne Center for the Performing Arts will be one of the few venues in the world where the quintet has performed selections from Dolphy’s most famous album. From Artsjournal.com, posted on March 23, 2008:
“When trumpeter Russ Johnson took on the challenge of performing five works recorded by reeds and winds player Dolphy's brilliantly cast quintet in 1964, Johnson bit off the major problem of recreators: how to approach indelible music to maintain its integral identity yet fulfill its implicit demands or opportunities of interpretation, improvisation and innovation… Brad Jones played a ruggedly fillagree’d bass solo on that one, at brutish pace, and then Johnson, [saxophonist Roy] Nathanson, [pianist Myra] Melford and [drummer George] Schuller chimed in triumphant, pouring themselves through 44-year-old music in a very rare demonstration of a resurrection that indeed regained life.”

In addition, the College plans to announce the establishment of the Eric Dolphy Endowed Scholarship, to be awarded annually to a Le Moyne College performing arts/music student. The College has launched an aggressive fundraising campaign to support the project.

For more information on the project, visit www.lemoyne.edu/dolphy or call (315) 445-4555.

posted on: 2/10/2010