The Xavier University Jazz Ensemble will hold its 25th Anniversary Reunion Weekend on Friday April 18 in Ryan’s Pub in the Gallagher Student Center on Xavier’s campus. The group will play two sets – the first from 7:30-8:30 p.m. and the second from 8:50-9:40 p.m. On Sunday, April 20 the Ensemble will play a concert at 8:15 p.m. in Long Recital Hall. All alumni of the Ensemble are encouraged to attend and revisit great times. If you know of any alumni, send their contact information to John DeFoor in care of the Xavier University Music Department, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45207.
The Ensemble has released 5 CDs in the last decade – the only collegiate band to do so. Their last, Sweet Love, was in tribute to local jazz legend Oscar Treadwell, who passed away in April, 2006. He was their most ardent promoter, saying, “The scope and diversity of their repertoire is truly remarkable!” Their next CD, Make Me Smile, will be recorded in April and is due out later this year.
John DeFoor, director of jazz studies at Xavier University, has been a performer, arranger, composer, critic, writer, historian, conductor and educator since the 1950s. He played and arranged for bands including Billy May, Woody Herman, Les Brown, Harry James. He has taught at Xavier since 1983, where he has been the principal designer of Jazz Agenda, Jazz Minor and the director of the Xavier Jazz Ensemble while continuing to participate, professionally and academically, in the development of contemporary idioms of jazz, blues, rock, funk and fusion. DeFoor has led his band, Rara Avis, (made up of many former students from California Polytechnic State University) at the NFL commissioner’s annual pre-Super Bowl party annually since Super Bowl XI in 1977.
Sheer luck got DeFoor the Super Bowl gig. He was in charge of the jazz program at Cal Poly, which is only about 10 miles from the Rose Bowl and the site of Super Bowl XI, when the NFL called. Then-commissioner Pete Rozelle called and asked them to play for the league party.” They were invited back again and again.
DeFoor loves the interaction with college students. In an interview last year with the Xavier Newswire he said, “Teaching keeps you young. It keeps you current and it challenges you, but it’s fun. To be honest, it probably keeps me alive.”