Jazz Legend Lee Konitz Joins Chicago Virtuosos Corky Siegel, Orbert Davis and Other Noted Artists to Honor Legacy of William Russo

Columbia College Chicago Brings Together Artists in Film, Theatre and Music for Tribute and Special Columbia College Jazz Ensemble Concert

CHICAGO (Nov. 5, 2013)Jazz legend Lee Konitz will join Chicago music virtuosos Corky Siegel and Orbert Davis, along with other special guests in film, theatre and music, to pay tribute to Chicago’s legendary artist and educator, William (Bill) Russo, in a two-day celebration and special benefit concert, Celebrating William Russo: Artist & Educator, Dec. 6-7 at Columbia College Chicago.

Considered one of the greatest jazz composers and arrangers in American history, Russo was also a seminal figure in Chicago’s film, music, theatre and education circles. The celebration at Columbia College Chicago marks the 10th anniversary of his passing in 2003, yet notably reinforces his legacy and impact at the college.

“Bill Russo’s contribution to jazz has not only spanned the greater part of the 20th century, but his legacy is rooted in Chicago and at Columbia College,” said Richard Dunscomb, chair of the Music Department at Columbia College Chicago. “He was a radical change agent in music in his time, and many of his concepts are present in the way we teach and practice music at the college now.”

Russo was hired as Columbia College’s first full-time faculty member in 1965, and served as the first chair of the Music Department until his retirement in 2002. He founded the Center for New Music at Columbia College, and his distinguished roster of students included Oscar-winning film composers John Barry (Goldfinger, Out of Africa) and Fred Karlin (The Sterile Cuckoo) and theatre composers Richard Peaslee (Marat/Sade) and Mark Hollmann (Urinetown).

Today, the Music Department is one of only three schools in the country to offer a degree in contemporary, urban and popular music, and all of its programs are deeply rooted in the inter-disciplinary tradition, collaborating with theatre, film, acoustic arts and numerous other departments. The award-winning Columbia College Jazz Ensemble (CCJE), established by Scott Hall and Bill Russo in 1999, creates big band music and performs internationally, often in concert with renowned jazz artists.

The Celebrating William Russo highlights include:

  • Benefit concert featuring master saxophonist Lee Konitz, composer and trumpeter Orbert Davis, and blues harmonica virtuoso Corky Siegel, all long-time Russo collaborators, playing with the Columbia College Jazz Ensemble conducted by Scott Hall. Proceeds benefit the William Russo Endowed Scholarship at Columbia College, which provides financial assistance for music students in their professional studies.
  • The first CD release of the Columbia College Jazz Ensemble, featuring members from the 2012-13 ensemble, and is a reflection on Bill Russo’s vision for the jazz studies program. Some of the highlights include Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia”, Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin” and Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.”
  • Special screening of Everybody Rides the Carousel, an animated documentary by Oscar-winning filmmakers John and Faith Hubley, featuring a score by Russo and played by jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter and Larry Adler. The screening will be followed by a conversation with the Hubleys’ daughter, noted filmmaker Emily Hubley, and Cinema Art + Science professor Ron Fleischer.
  • A free panel discussion reflecting on Russo’s career as composer and educator; and as founding father of Chicago’s Off-loop theatre movement and the Columbia College Music Department, featuring: musicians Orbert Davis and Corky Siegel, noted Chicago and Broadway actress Kate Buddeke, author and educator Louis Silverstein and journalists Don Rose and Ron Dorfman.

All panel discussions are free and open to the public. The admission for the benefit is $50 and includes a pre-concert reception at 6 p.m. at the Jazz Showcase, with an 8 p.m. concert. A second set with the Columbia College Jazz Ensemble at 10 p.m. costs $20.

For concert tickets click here or call 312-369-8330.

For additional information please visit http://www.colum.edu/Russo.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.


Media contacts:
Cara Birch, cbirch@colum.edu, 312.369.8695
Steve Kauffman, skauffman@colum.edu, 312.369.7383