When music and Wisconsin are mentioned in the same sentence, one might expect polka to follow, or rock and roll, or even Liberace. Wisconsin, however, has a rich heritage in jazz. Two of the great figures of the Swing Era, Bunny Berigan and Woody Herman, were natives of Wisconsin. Wisconsin musicians have contributed to the life of jazz ever since on both coasts, and in Europe. Wisconsin continues to produce such stars of the jazz scene as Brian Lynch, Carl Allen and Geoffrey Keezer. There is also a vital jazz scene within the state: in Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox Valley, the Eau Claire area, and spilling over into Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul and elsewhere. Kurt Dietrich interviewed over 100 musicians for his new book, Wisconsin Riffs: Jazz Profiles from the Heartland. The lives and music of many of these musicians will be explored in this seminar.
Required Reading: Wisconsin Riffs: Jazz Profiles from the Heartland by Kurt Dietrich. Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2018.
Kurt Dietrich '73 is Professor of Music and Barbara Baldwin DeFrees Professor of Performing Arts at Ripon College, where he has taught since 1980. At Ripon Dietrich directs the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble, teaches brass instruments and a variety of courses. Dietrich has degrees from Lawrence University, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his doctorate. He was trombonist with Matrix, with which he recorded for RCA, Warner Brothers, Pablo and Summit Records. He remains an active player in both jazz and classical groups, and has been principal trombone in the Wisconsin Symphonic Winds since its founding. Dietrich is the author of three books, and has also contributed to numerous journals and other publications.