Students enrolled in Harvey Mudd College’s (HMC) Music 84 Jazz Improvisation course will perform the music of acclaimed jazz trumpeter and composer Tom Harrell in a concert May 6, 2009.
The performance, which is open to the public and free of charge, will begin at 8 p.m. in the Green Room of HMC’s Platt Campus Center.
Led by Robert Keller, the Csilla and Walt Foley professor of computer science and founder and director of HMC’s Computer Science Clinic, performers will include:
Hufsa Ahmad '10, electric bass; Thomas Body '09 , CMC, piano; Brandyn Carlson '11, trumpet; Nicole Crisosto '11, drums; James Douglas '12, Pitzer, drums; Arthur Eigenbrot '10, alto saxophone; Paul Hobbs '12, piano; Keith Ingram '11, alto saxophone; Rachid Jabbouri (an exchange student from Morocco), Pitzer, guitar; Nicholas Jones '10, Pomona, guitar; Robert Keller, instructor, fluegelhorn and trumpet; Stephen Lee '10, piano; Graham Orr '09, vibraphone; Zach Shpizner '12, Pitzer, guitar; Ryan Williams '12, electric bass.
Keller and his improvisation students will perform the following Harrell tunes: "Moon Alley," "April Mist," "Train Shuffle," "Little Dancer," "Sail Away" and "Because I Love You."
While the inventive art of improvisation might seem far removed from the logical world of computer science, Keller has found a way to link his lifelong passion for jazz to his work as a computer scientist.
In 2005, with the help of 5 HMC students, Keller began developing a software program––dubbed the Improvisation Advisor, or "Impro-Visor," for short––that allows jazz musicians to compose and listen to "improvised" solos. The software was released in 2006, and since then, 14 HMC students have contributed to the various versions that have come out.
"There’s a kind of logic to playing jazz," says Keller. “Most professionals I’ve encountered would say that the less you think while you’re performing, the better. That is generally true. But in preparing the performance, you need to think about the structure of the song and the chord changes."
Today, there are 4,400 Impro-Visor users through Keller’s Yahoo! group.
Keller’s interest in music began at the age of 10, when his father brought home a cornet from a pawnshop. He played trumpet from junior high through college before entering a self-imposed musical hiatus for 20 years.
"Playing trumpet in an apartment didn’t seem very sociable," he says.
When Keller started teaching at HMC, his interest in music was rekindled by a student jazz band performance.
"I thought, 'I can do that,'" he recalls. "So I started performing with some students, and my involvement kept growing."
For more information about the concert, please contact Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org or (909) 621-8225.