[JPL] New jazz center planned for 2009 at Oberlin College

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Fri Sep 28 21:33:28 EDT 2007

    New jazz center planned for 2009 at Oberlin College

      Cindy Leise | The Chronicle-Telegram

OBERLIN --- In fall 2009, Oberlin jazz studies students will be 
attending class in a brand new, $22 million building attached to the 
Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Ground will be broken in March for the Phyllis Litoff Building, which 
will be the first music building in the world to attain a gold 
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating.

It will have natural light in practically every working space and will 
use a closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system.

Construction will feature local and recycled building materials, carpets 
and paints that will produce no offensive gasses, and there will be 
occupancy sensors that will monitor ventilation demands.

The college still has to raise or finalize $8 million for the project, 
but excitement is building, said David Stull, dean of the Oberlin 

Construction is expected to take 14 months. The building will have large 
expanses of glass and some rooms will look out onto two rooftop gardens, 
Stull said.

"It's highly innovative and inspiring," Stull said of the building 
designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky.

When the building is opened, Stull said Oberlin will finally have 
facilities fitting the caliber of its teaching staff, which include 
trumpet player Marcus Belgrave, drummer Billy Hart, trombone player 
Robin Eubanks, saxophonist Gary Bartz and composer Wendell Logan.

"These are the legends of jazz --- you're looking at a series of Grammy 
Award winners and the definitive artists of jazz," Stull said.
He said Oberlin College has truly become "a super center of jazz."

Jazz has been taught at Oberlin for nearly 35 years, and jazz studies 
became a department in 1989.

For much of that time, the program has operated out of space in the 
conservatory and the old Hale's Gym, just east of Allen Medical Center.

Stull acknowledged that the Hale's Gym facilities "have been abysmal, 
and we seek to change that --- we will have the premier jazz facility in 

Belgrave, who played with some of the 20th century's greatest jazz 
musicians, likes to joke that Hale's Gym "has served us --- not well --- 
but it's served us."

The new facility "is going to be great," said Belgrave, who travels to 
Oberlin twice a week from his home in Detroit.

Cleveland businessman Stewart Kohl --- who with his wife, Donna, donated 
$5 million to construction of the building --- asked that it be named 
after Litoff, the late jazz impresario from New York City who, along 
with her husband, owned the Greenwich Village jazz club Sweet Basil.

Kohl, a 1977 Oberlin graduate and member of the college's Board of 
Trustees, was a friend of Litoff, who died of brain cancer in 2002.

There are about 75 jazz studies majors, said Wendell Logan, professor of 
African American Music and chairman of the Jazz Studies Department. 
Logan has been with the program since it was founded.

The new building also will house the Jim and Susan Neumann Jazz 
Collection, which will be archived and digitally preserved and made 
available from anywhere on campus.

The Neumanns amassed a huge jazz collection as record producers for Bee 
Hive Records, whose claim to fame was a Grammy nomination for Johnny 
Hartman's album "Once in Every Life." Songs from the album were featured 
in the film "The Bridges of Madison County."

Dr. Jazz
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24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
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SKYPE:  drjazz99

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