Get jazzy with Wycliffe Gordon

 

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Wycliffe Gordon, musician and Augusta University professor, performs at the Augusta University Jazz and American Music Celebration Week in April of 2019. (Special to the Bell Ringer)

By Sam Turner|
Staff writer

AU Professor Wycliffe Gordon developed a love for music at a very young age. Wycliffe’s father was musically inclined and wanted his children to find the same love for music. 

“I started playing music at the age four or five. I was introduced by my father who played piano and he tried to get us in piano lessons. He played in the church and studied but at that age we didn’t really want to learn,” Gordon said.

Once in junior high, Wycliffe started playing in the school band, which was a commitment during the whole school year. He found interest in different instruments and decided he did not want to take piano lessons anymore. 

“Once I got into band at school, I wanted to do band. Piano was one-on-one. The band was lots of kids and lots of instruments and I continued to play piano but didn’t take lessons anymore. Trombone became the instrument I created my career with.” 

Wycliffe launched a successful music career and later found himself back in Augusta, Georgia as an artist-in-residence. During his residency, Gordon spent much time working with the Department of Music at Augusta University. 

“I started as an artist-in-residence from 2014 to 2018- then I started full time at the university in 2018. This is my second-year full time as an employee of the university.” 

Gordon first observed classes and rehearsals as well as play in concerts at the school. The portion of the department he spent most time with is Jazz Band.  

“I would always try to schedule in the weeks [students] were performing, kind of evenly throughout the semester and work with the kids. I would attend jazz band rehearsals, play with the concerts, go attend the classes whether it was jazz arranging, jazz history and monitor the classes but now I teach them all,” Gordon explained. 

Wycliffe Gordon has big dreams for the music department at Augusta University. Wycliffe performed with the talented Wynton Marsalis and came to Augusta University. At the time, AU had a full jazz band that consisted of five saxophones, four trombones, four to five trumpets and four rhythm sections with doubles on instruments. Gordon also hopes to see the music department grow to be their own school of music. 

“We are still in the building stages. We have what you would call a “little big band”: four saxes, one trombone, two trumpets. What I would like to do is build and create a program that will gives students an outlet when they graduate to be able to go and to play and function inside any type of work situation. I like to think of it more as a jazz and contemporary situation.” 

During this spring semester, Wycliffe has arranged different concerts that he claims are “concerts with a concept” as well as a concert with Branford Marsalis on Jan. 16 at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre. More information about the upcoming concerts can be found on the school website: https://www.augusta.edu/maxwelltheatre.

 

Contact Sam Turner at SATURNER@augusta.edu