John DeFoor, director for Jazz Studies at Xavier University, has been asked to direct the National Jazz Band during the January 20 inauguration ceremonies for President-Elect Barack Obama.
“Sixteen and twelve years ago, I played for the Clinton inaugurations,” says DeFoor. “Clinton is a big jazz fan. Someone asked why I direct for the Democrats and not the Republicans. I guess the Democrats are the jazz fans and the Republicans like country music!”
DeFoor has only just been invited so doesn’t have all the details yet. If it is like the Clinton inaugurations, he will direct an all-star band of college and university students from around the DC area – he expects 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxophones, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. Tents are set up all along the Mall with various performances in each. DeFoor gets to choose the music and will include some of his own compositions.
Always a thoughtful teacher, DeFoor has class on the morning of the 17th and refuses to miss it, so he will fly out that afternoon. Classes are cancelled on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr, Day, so he is available for the inauguration, but DeFoor will be sure he is back in time for Wednesday classes.
The Xavier Jazz Ensemble is in its 26th year. It has released four CDs in the last decade —the only collegiate band to do so. Their last, "Sweet Love," was a tribute to local jazz legend Oscar Treadwell, their most ardent promoter, who died in April 2006. Another CD, "Make Me Smile," has been recorded and is due out later this year.
DeFoor has been a performer, arranger, composer, critic, historian, conductor and educator since the 1950s. He played and arranged for bands including Billy May, Woody Herman, Les Brown and Harry James. He has taught at Xavier since 1983, where he has been the principal designer of jazz courses and the director for the jazz ensemble while continuing to participate in the development of contemporary idioms. DeFoor has led his band, Rara Avis, at the NFL commissioner’s annual pre-Super Bowl party since Super Bowl XI in 1977.
2009 XAVIER JAZZ ENSEMBLE SPRING CONCERT SCHEDULE
Sunday, March 22 8:15 pm in Long Recital Hall in Edgecliff Hall on the Xavier campus
Friday, March 27 7:30 pm Gallagher Student Center on the Xavier campus
Friday, April 17 7:30 pm Gallagher Student Center
Friday, April 24 7:30 pm The Lyric at 8719 Reading Road in Reading
Sunday, April 26 8:15 pm Long Recital Hall