top of page

Flyer faculty jazzed to play

Hamilton (OH) – Tucked in behind the drum kit, Jim Leslie is a frequent performer at the Fitton Center, most recently playing with the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra last May for CCJO Goes to the Movies.

Part of the University of Dayton music department since 1999, Leslie returns with a few of his fellow Flyer faculty members – the UD Jazztet – for A Night of Monk & Mingus Saturday, March 16, as part of the Jazz & Cabaret series.

“I think it will appeal to people who love jazz – Monk and Mingus in particular, of course – but also to people who might not be familiar with their work,” he said. “We're going to take people on a musical journey that's very accessible.

“There’s something so special about live jazz and seeing it come to life in the moment. Rehearsal allows you to put up the frame, but on stage, in front of the audience, that is where you put up the rest of the house. It’s a musical party and the audience is invited.”

What a party it promises to be.

With Garin Webb on saxophone, Taylor Nelson on guitar, Phillip Burkhead on piano, Chris Berg on upright bass and Eric Lechliter of the CCJO guest starring on trumpet, Leslie said he’s proud to play with some of the best and most accomplished jazz artists – and educators - in the business.

“We are really fortunate to have some great musicians in the area; these are just amazing players,” he said. “Not only amazing players, but great people, too, and they bring that to the music as well. You hear it.”

Leslie likes the theme of the party as much as he likes his musical co-hosts.

“The music of Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus touches so many of the hot spots for jazz,” he said. “You have the great compositions. You have the freedom to solo. You have this bluesy earthiness. You have something that hits you in the head and something that hits you in the gut at the same time.

“You want to pay tribute to these great composers, but you also want to make it something new. I imagine them in the room, at the show, and they’re saying to us, ‘OK, how are you using my music to put your own spin on it? How are you going to tell that story?’”

The Jazztet provides some answers in the form of an arrangement turning Monk’s “Ugly Beauty” from a slow ballad into a Latin waltz and giving “Green Chimneys” a New Orleans second-line sound.

“You want it to be fresh, but you don’t want to change some of these iconic tunes into something people don’t like,” Leslie said. “They’re iconic for a reason. We want to capture that and pay homage to that and still give the audience something new.”

Tickets for A Night of Monk & Mingus are $35 for Fitton Center members, $43 for non-member, and are available online right here, by phone at 513-863-8873, ext. 110, or in person at the Fitton Center Box Office during regular office hours.

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S. Monument Avenue on the Riverfront in downtown Hamilton, Ohio.


Building Community Excellence through the Arts and Culture

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page