Urbanizing the Arts, and All that Jazz

The origins of the Stanford Studio Band, now known as the Stanford Jazz Orchestra, coincide with the turbulence of the 1960s and the scattered turn of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.  The Studio Band was directed by the Teaching Assistant to Arthur Barnes, Director of Bands, who witnessed the advent of the Stanford Band’s “scatter” aesthetic.  When Fredrick Berry assumed directorship in 1991, the band officially changed its name to the Stanford Jazz Orchestra, and ever since has perpetuated the big band jazz tradition at Stanford.  Sponsored by the Music Department, SJO plays a major concert each quarter in Dinkelspiel Auditorium as well as numerous gigs and tours.  Since 1995, the ensemble has featured world-renowned vising artists in every formal concert.  Notable SJO alumni include Glen Daum, Emmy winner (both in 2002 and 2003) for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for Sesame Street.  Louie Bellson, Bobby Hutcherson, Julian Priester, Billy Higgins, and DeeDee Bridgewater are among SJO’s past guest artists.

Urban Styles dancer
photograph: Copyright Alvaro Ponce 2008

Stanford’s affinity for jazz assumed a kinetic form in 2000, with the founding of Urban Styles, a student-run dance company.  Stanford alumnae Abe Estess and Rhiannon Meier created Urban Styles in order to institute opportunities for Stanford students to learn and perform jazz choreography.  Urban Styles remains the only Stanford organization dedicated to Los Angeles-style jazz dancing.  The company’s repertoire, which features student choreography and musical accompaniment ranging from pop artists to Broadway musicals, aims to combine personal flair with advanced jazz technique.

Bio: Fredrick Berry – Director of the Stanford Jazz Orchestra since 1991.  Berry is a Lecturer in Jazz Studies at Stanford and, as a professional trumpet player, performs with numerous Bay Area jazz ensembles.

Featured image: Stanford Jazz Orchestra with Director Fred Berry