Members of Jazz Ensemble One perform at Fred Turner’s party last year.
For the second year in a row, Drake University’s Jazz Ensemble One will travel to Hamburger University, home office of the McDonald’s Corp., to perform at an annual party hosted by the company’s honorary chairman, Fred Turner, who attended Drake in the 1950s.
Under the direction of Andrew Classen, the Fred and Patty Turner professor of jazz studies, the ensemble will perform an eclectic program for an audience of more than 300 on Friday, Nov. 12.
“What’s amazing about the party, beyond all of the wonderful food, is how attentive and appreciative the audience is,” said Classen, whose position was endowed in 2008 by a $1 million contribution made by Turner to the University’s jazz program. “The jazz band isn’t background music, it’s the featured element of the party. This elevates the band’s performance and makes the event very special.”
Classen said that the party and concert provide a chance for the band members to express their gratitude to Turner for his support of the program.
“The students have been directly impacted by his support,” Classen said. “They get to show their appreciation, and Fred gets to interact with the students. Every time the band is around Fred, he just lights up.”
Alto saxophonist Carliann Conner, a sophomore music performance and education double major from Urbandale, Iowa, said that the jazz program has been profoundly impacted by Turner’s contributions.
“It’s wonderful how much Mr. Turner supports the jazz program at Drake,” Conner said. “The improvements and opportunities he’s provided benefit current student musicians and draw prospective students to our program.”
Drake President David Maxwell will join the band to perform a guitar solo on “Blues for Jimmy,” a tune composed by Classen and named in honor of Maxwell’s late father, renowned trumpeter Jimmy Maxwell.
Roger Ingram, former lead trumpet with Harry Connick Jr.’s orchestra, will also join Jazz Ensemble One to perform a solo on Frank Foster’s “Who Me?” Ingram, a nationally renowned jazz musician and educator, previously performed with the band at a concert held earlier this year.
Students benefit from Turner’s generous support of jazz education
In addition to the endowed professorship, Turner has provided the University’s jazz program with a $1.5 million gift to build the Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center, a 4,600-square-foot facility adjoining the Harmon Fine Arts Center.
The building, which is scheduled to be completed in late November, will include a main hall; a classroom; and Patty’s Place, a 70-seat jazz club and coffee bar. Also included is a state-of-the-art 40-channel recording studio.
Earlier this year, the ensemble’s two-week European tour was partially supported by Turner, who donated $1,900 towards the cost of each student’s travel expenses. Read more about the trip online.