DURHAM, N.C.- North Carolina Central University, in partnership with the African American Jazz Caucus, Jazz Research Institute (NAJRI), presents the 18th Annual NCCU Jazz Festival and the Second Annual NAJRI HBCU Jazz Conference, April 16-19, 2008, on NCCU's campus in Durham. There will be featured performances by legendary tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, alto saxophonist Wes "Warm Daddy" Anderson, the NCCU Faculty Group, NCCU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Ira Wiggins and the NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble directed by Lenora Helm. The conference will feature instrumental clinics, master classes, nightly jazz concerts, jam sessions and a photo exhibit of jazz greats by the noted photographer, Jim Alexander.

The four-day, power-packed conference and festival will offer symposia on issues uniquely affecting jazz education programs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and within the African-American community. Noted speakers will offer their thoughts on the development of K-12 and Higher Education interdisciplinary jazz curricula and feeder systems; diversity in jazz education teaching methodologies; jazz within the church and community; the role of the media including radio, TV, print and the Internet; and other continuing education credit workshops.

NAJRI will conduct a Jazz Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 8 p.m. in the BN Duke Auditorium on Thursday, April 17, with performance by the internationally renowned pianist, Cedar Walton and his Trio with bassist David Williams and drummer George Fludas. Eight North Carolinians are being honored as the first musical giants inducted based on their outstanding contributions to America's musical art form. The inductees will be: Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Percy Heath, Dr. Billy Taylor, Lou Donaldson, Nina Simone, and Tal Farlow. NAJRI will additionally recognize musicians Jimmy Heath, Albert "Tootie" Heath and the Honorable Congressman John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI) for their historic contributions and support of the jazz genre.

The Institute's mission is focused in three major areas. One is the restoration of jazz to its rightful place of cultural importance and significance in the African American and global communities, especially in the youth culture. Second, is the creation of specific programs to serve as prototypes for the development of a circuit of HBCUs and their communities where future contributors to jazz exist. Third, is the training of individuals in research to clarify, demonstrate, teach and disseminate the diverse components of jazz, its roots and continuous evolution. As a result of the African Diaspora, the fundamental research components include spirituals, work songs, blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, Latin and hip hop.

For conference and festival details, please go to:

  • NAJRI.org
  • Register and Purchase Tickets for the HBCU Conference & Festival Concerts
  •  Conference Schedule
  •  Conference Information
  •  2008 Hall of Fame Inductees
  • NCCU.edu

    Additional contact information: Dr. Larry Ridley (917) 450-0446.

  • The following is archived information from past Festivals and Conferences.

    The 2007 NAJRI schedule

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    The international reputation of the North Carolina Central University (NCCU)Jazz Studies Program has been embellished by a collaborative partnership with the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC), a 501c3 affiliate of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). Together they have created a new University approved Jazz Research Institute which is an historical first at an Historic Black College/University (HBCU). The title is an acronym, NAJRI, which stands for North Carolina Central University (N), African American Jazz Caucus (A), Jazz (J), Research (R), Institute (I). The first major event sponsored by this newly formed NCCU institutional component was the NCCU/AAJC HBCU Jazz Conference/Festival held on the campus in Durham at NCCU, June 20-23, 2007 (see schedule below). NCCU Jazz Studies Program Director, Dr. Ira Wiggins and AAJC Executive Director, Dr. Larry Ridley are the Co-Directors of NAJRI.

    The opening Conference reception featured a Jazz Photo Exhibit by renowned jazz photographer, Mr. Jim Alexander. Welcoming addresses to the Conference attendees were given by NCCU Provost/Vice Chancellor, Dr. Beverly Jones; NCCU Assistant Vice Chancellor, Dr. Janice Harper and the Honorable Mayor of Durham, Mr. William Bell.

    The four-day conference included interdisciplinary workshops, panel discussions, seminars and performances by internationally renowned guest artists: pianist Kenny Barron; trumpeter Jimmy Owens; bassist Larry Ridley and the Jazz Legacy Ensemble featuring pianist Richard Wyands, saxophonist Doug Harris, violinist Krystle Ford, drummer Greg Buford, vocalist Jackie Jones, the American Dance Festival Dancers and special guest saxophonist Ira Wiggins; vocalist Lenora Zenzalai Helm and the Zenzalai Project, featuring saxophonist Antoine Roney and pianist Brandon McCune; the NCCU performer/coordinators- trombonist Robert Trowers and pianist Arnold George.

    Some of the renowned speakers and panelists were- Mr. A.B. Spellman, writer and recently retired Deputy Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Mr. Cedric Hendricks, Esq., Assistant to Congressman John Conyers, (D-MI); Reverend Ron Myers, M.D., Chairman, National Juneteenth Council; Dr. Willis Kirk, President Emeritus- City College of San Francisco, CA; Professor Bill Fielder, Rutgers University; Dr. Howard Harris, Texas Southern University; Professor James Patterson, Clark Atlanta University; Dr. John Lamkin, University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Dr. Jesse McCarroll, City University of New York; Mr. Cliff Bellamy, Herald Tribune; Dr. Karen Chandler, College of Charleston (SC); Dr. Irene Owens, NCCU Dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences; Ms. Edith Thorpe, WNCU-FM, General Manager; Mr. Katey Assem, NCCU Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement and Mr. Ron Scott, New York Amsterdam News.

    The Conference/Festival speakers, panelists and performers have given written testimonials to the quality, substance, need and support for NAJRI ongoing programs and success.

    In addition to the Conference/Festival, the partnership was founded to establish the NAJRI Jazz Research Institute Digital Library and the NAJRI Jazz Hall of Fame. Dr. Paula Harrell, Chair of the NCCU Music Department wrote and received a $30,000 Digital Humanities Initiative Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for librarian training. This grant provided an opportunity for Dr. Harrell to take a course, at Cornell University, with music librarian Vernice Faison and library assistants Stephanie Fennell and Yingqi Tang. Cornell is the foremost institution for digital librarianship in the country. The first collection to be established will be comprised of the digital photographs of renowned jazz photographer Jim Alexander of Atlanta, Georgia. This Digital Library ultimately will house photographs, oral histories, sheet and recorded music, as well as other historical documents.

    The schedule of the 2007 NAJRI HBCU Jazz Conference/Festival of Workshops and Events follows: