The thing I'm most interested in is where jazz meets social justice.

In 1963, as Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he "reminded America of the fierce urgency of now." Jazz artists were listening.

"Musicians were heeding the call to make music sound more urgent," says Barry Long, assistant professor of music and director of Bucknell's jazz band. Long studies the ways in which music is informed by events and how it in turn helps inspire events. || Ask the Experts: Barry Long on civil rights and music

His interests extend from the civil rights movement to contemporary influences on modern music. "The thing I'm most interested in is where jazz meets social justice," Long says. For example, his classes might explore the ways that race, gender and faith appear in today's pop music.

Long also plays and composes for trumpet and flugelhorn. The music of Wynton Marsalis and Miles Davis both drew Long to the jazz trumpet in high school, and he was the first to receive a doctoral degree in Jazz Studies from the Eastman School of Music in May of 2007.

Having performed with artists including Kenny Wheeler, Bob Brookmeyer, John Clayton, Eliane Elias, Benny Carter, Jim McNeely, and Dave Stah, Long has also done lesson plans for VH1 and composed music for the Jazz Composer Alliance and done commissioned work for Clark Terry and The Kandinsky Trio.

To engage Bucknell's students in a dialogue with leading educators and professionals about the areas of intersection between jazz and society, Long initiated a series of talks focusing on jazz and culture, saying his main goal is to host rich discussions about the past century of music, race, and culture in America.

Posted Sept. 22, 2008

 

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