Clark University’s 2022–23 Geller Jazz Series kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with acclaimed saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart and his all-star quintet taking the stage for an evening of Afro Caribbean futuristic jazz.
The Geller Jazz Nightclub performance, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Grind, in the lower level of the Higgins University Center.
Schwarz-Bart joins a roster of incredible musicians who have come to the Clark campus to perform as part of the Geller Jazz Series, which is supported by a generous gift to the Visual and Performing Arts Department from the Estate of Selma Geller. The biannual jazz concert series pairs new and emerging artists with jazz legends and supports audience development programming. Previous featured artists and recipients of the Selma B. Geller Foundations of Jazz award include Ron Carter, Dave Liebman, Tom Harrell, Christian MacBride, Ravi Coltrane & Joe Lovano, Trio da Paz, and Bill Charlap.
“The Geller Jazz Nightclub has become such a wonderful tradition to start the new year,” says Professor Matt Malsky, the Tina Sweeney, M.A. ’49, Endowed Chair in Music, director of the Higgins School of Humanities, and director of media, culture, and the arts. “Great jazz in an informal setting, with an ice cream sundae bar to boot. This year’s guest artist brings such an unusual and varied background and range of musical experiences — everything from Haitian musique rasin to Jewish liturgical chant and neo soul.”
Jacques Schwarz-Bart is a recording artist with seven albums to his name, as well as a composer and educator. He has produced more than 20 records for a wide range of artists, is featured on more than 150 albums as a side man, and has taught master classes and clinics in 12 different countries. His collaborations include work with Roy Hargrove, Danilo Pérez, John Scofield, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, John Legend, and many others.
Born in 1962 in Abymes, Guadeloupe, Schwarz-Bart started playing saxophone at 24, an age when most musicians are already professionals. With a deep knowledge of his Haitian heritage, Schwarz-Bart was inspired to integrate voodoo ritual music into his music. By including arrangements of sacred tunes and composed melodies he has created a fusion of modern jazz with musique rasin, or Haitian roots music, which, like blues, was a source of inspiration that enabled millions of slaves to overcome tragedy and escape oppressive conditioning.
Schwarz-Bart graduated from the Berklee College of Music before moving to New York City, where he collaborated with many of the greats on the jazz and neo soul scenes. In 2005, he released his first project as a leader, “Sone Ka La,” which revisits his native music through the prism of jazz; it won worldwide critical acclaim. His 2014 album “Jazz Racine Haiti” made him an ambassador for a school of modern jazz rooted in voodoo music. His impressionistic writing, powerful tone, and wide-ranging language — both lyrical and angular — have fueled a growing presence on the world stage.
Schwarz-Bart was awarded the status of Knights of the Arts and Letters by the French government in 2015, and received the Francine and Antoine Bernheim Prize for Arts, Letters, and Sciences in 2017. He is an associate professor at the Berklee College of Music while also maintaining a steady touring schedule.
Selma Geller was a New York City philanthropist who died in 2007. She was deeply concerned about the lack of musical educational opportunities available to the current generation of students. Her gifts to Clark University for music scholarships and musical performances are a testament to her desire to bring the original American musical art form to the Clark community.
For more information, email the Clark University Visual and Performing Arts Department.