On Friday night, the University of Miami campus experienced not only the kick-off of Homecoming Week, but also the close of another festival. In the grand finale of Festival Miami, jazz greats Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton played alongside the University of Miami Concert Jazz Band (CJB) and UM’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.
Festival Miami, which completed its 26th season, is an annual music festival that brings top-notch musicians to UM to instruct and play alongside Frost School of Music students and faculty. The month-long festival featured events along four basic themes: Great Performances, Creative American Music, Music of Americas and Jazz and Beyond.
The final two concerts of the series featured Hamilton and Clayton, first with Frost faculty and then with music students, and took place Thursday and Friday nights, respectively. The concerts attracted jazz fans from throughout the Miami community as well as UM students.
Hamilton is “the quintessential drummer’s drummer,” said Shelton Berg, the dean of the School of Music.
Clayton, who composed and arranged the scores for all of the Henry Mancini Institute pieces performed Friday, is a multi-Grammy nominated and winning double bass player, composer and arranger.
While many of the Festival Miami concerts carried a hefty price tag for patrons ($25-$85 for Friday night), UM students were offered an even better opportunity; learning from Festival Miami musicians directly through master classes and rehearsing with artists themselves.
Hamilton and Clayton were each featured in their own master classes Friday afternoon.
“They’re not just great musicians, they’re great educators,” junior Seth Woods said. According to Woods, Clayton discussed a lot more philosophy than chops in his class. “You usually don’t get that in a master class,” he said.
Frost students were equally impressed with Clayton and Hamilton in their rehearsals.
“They talked a lot about the soul . . . playing for the joy of the music,” said Paul Deemer, a second year graduate student and member of the CJB.
All of the work and passion these musicians put in truly came across in their performances.
Simply stated by CJB junior Scott Rowell during intermission, “They’re killing it.”