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International Jazz Exchange

“It Just Is” © Antonio García
University of KwaZulu-Natal Jazz Storytellers Ensemble / Prof. Neil Gonsalves, director
Kwena Elvis Ramahuta (voice), Rogan van den Berg (guitar), Lungelo Ngcobo (piano), Dalisu Ndlazi (bass), and Jude Ganasen (drums), with Prof. Burton Naidoo (piano), & director Prof. Neil Gonsalves (piano)
World premiere of a faculty composition performed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Durban, South Africa.

“Drop Dead Blues” © Neil Gonsalves
UKZN Prof. Neil Gonsalves (piano), VCU Prof. Antonio García (trombone)

“The Constants That Bind” © Doug Jemison
VCU Africa Combo / Antonio J. García, director
Trey Sorrells (alto sax), Doug Jemison (tenor sax), Roger Pouncey Jr. (guitar), Ryan Moses (piano), Jordan Mason (bass), and Cleandré Foster (drums), with director Prof. Antonio García (trombone)
World premieres of student compositions performed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Durban, South Africa.

“Brotherrelation” © Lungelo Ngcobo
VCU Africa Combo / Antonio J. García, director
Trey Sorrells (alto sax), Doug Jemison (tenor sax), Roger Pouncey Jr. (guitar), Ryan Moses (piano), Jordan Mason (bass), and Cleandré Foster (drums), with director Prof. Antonio García (trombone)
World premieres of student compositions performed at the University of KwaZulu-Natal; Durban, South Africa.

VCU’s Jazz Studies Program completed a three-year-long partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa. The partnership brought together American and African students in musical and personal understanding. Read more about their travel experiences and their CD, “Leap of Faith,” at the Jazz Studies blog.

The project was developed by Professor Antonio J. Garcia, head of the Jazz Studies Program and Professor Neil Gonsalves at UKZN. VCU students participating in the project the first year included:

Victor Haskins, trumpet
Justin Esposito, bass
C.J. Wolfe, drums
Brendan Schnabel, tenor sax
Trey Sorrells, alto sax
Chris Ryan, guitar

The VCU team first headed to Durban near the end of July 2012. The UKZN team visited VCU the last week of September 2012, and visits in both directions continued over the years that followed. Newly commissioned works for jazz combos followed, along with rehearsals and the continual exchange of resources, dialogues, and musical ideas via the Internet. The installation of Source-Connect software for both teams provided ISDN-line audio quality operating over the Internet, allowing the teams to perform for and coach each other’s teams while still at home a hemisphere apart. Both groups presented joint concerts on both continents each year. The concerts from the debut year were recorded for selective inclusion in a collaboratively released CD entitled “Leap of Faith,” released in Fall 2013. The overall exchange project, “A Jazz Bridge to Greater Understanding,” was chosen as the 2013 recipient of the VCU Community Engagement Award for Research.

This project is the latest in a series of international collaborations that the Jazz Studies Program has engaged in. Recently, several VCU faculty and students participated in the first VCU International Jazz Camp in Izmir, Turkey, which was created by alumnus Emre Kartari.