Jazz Ensemble Fall 2022

PLAY IT FORWARD! Featuring the music of JoVia Armstrong and guest violinist, Leslie Deshazor.
November 4, 2022 - 8:00pm
Old Cabell Hall on the UVA Lawn
$10 / $9 UVA Faculty & Staff / $5 students / Free for UVA Students who reserve in advance

Leslie DeshazorJoVia Armstrong

UVA JAZZ ENSEMBLE FALL CONCERT – Play It Forward!  Featuring the music of JoVia Armstrong and guest violinist, Leslie Deshazor.

The UVA Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of trumpeter John D’earth, will give its annual Fall Concert on November 4th, at 8:00 PM in Old Cabell Auditorium.  In their first normally prepared and presented concert since the pandemic, the Jazz Ensemble welcomes new Music Faculty member, JoVia Armstrong, to the bandstand, in an evening that will feature Ms. Armstrong’s compositional and percussive talents.  In addition to classic big band treatments of music by Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Lee Morgan, Buddy Rich, and Herbie Hancock, the Ensemble will present an entire set of Ms. Armstrong’s compositions.  Violinist Leslie Deshazor will join JoVia and the Jazz Ensemble as a featured guest artist, as well.  Leslie and JoVia are long-time collaborators and friends.  The concert represents a joyous welcome to JoVia Armstrong, an inspiring musical artist who is joining UVA’s professorial ranks this fall.

JoVia Armstrong is a percussionist, sound artist, composer, producer, and educator from Detroit, MI. In 2015, she won the Best Black Female Percussionist of the Year through the Black Women in Jazz Awards and received the 3Arts Siragusa Foundation Artist Award in 2011 for her work as an educator. JoVia sits on the executive board of Chicago's AACM as Secretary. She has performed with Omar, Res, Syleena Johnson, Frank McComb, El DeBarge, Eric Roberson, Rahsaan Patterson, Maysa, The Impressions, Nicole Mitchell, Ballaké Sissoko, Babani Kone, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Chilean artist Joe Vasconcellos. She also served as tour manager and percussionist for Les Nubians and others.

 She earned a Ph.D. in the Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology program from the University of California- Irvine in June 2022. Her recently released album, The Antidote Suite, has received critical reviews in publications such as Downbeat Magazine, The New York Times, and The Wire. The album was listed as a notable release on NPR's All Things Considered and Bandcamp Daily's album of the day (July 27, 2022). As a sound artist, she has composed sound for art installations, scored films, and created sound designs for gallery spaces and short independent films. She endorses several companies, including Sabian, Gon Bops, QSC, and Icon Pro Audio.

John D’earth, the Jazz Ensemble’s director since first being hired by the students in the early 1980’s, suggested doing this concert to JoVia even before she arrived in CharlotteUVA Jazz Ensemble directed by John D'earthsville. 

“I knew JoVia’s music was gaining a lot of attention and that she was playing with, and producing music for, some of the most advanced people in the Chicago jazz scene.  When I heard her new recording, The Antidote Suite, I was captivated.  I listened to it many times.  It seemed to be coming from the same roots as the mainstream jazz I revere but with a knowing, contemporary perspective that used technology and artistic developments in the hip-hop world in a unique and personal way.  We have had many stellar Jazz Ensemble guest artists over the years: Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Michael Brecker, Bob Moses, and Pat Metheny, to name a few.  But this is the first time the music dept. has hired an academic faculty member who is a full-time practicing composer and performer of au courant creative music, a person who can join her music with our large jazz ensemble and take the stage with us.  I feel that the band and I will be learning a lot as we work with JoVia.” 

“I was also knocked out by violinist Leslie Deshazor’s playing on The Antidote Suite.  It seemed natural to invite her, as well, to help us realize JoVia’s compositions, and to increase our understanding of the expanded role available to string players in improvised and creative music.  I am thrilled to have them both, as guests.”

The band is welcoming several incoming UVA students to the band. First-year tenor players Jack Peacock and Andrew Wittman (whose father played lead alto in the band a generation ago) will be featured along with first year trumpeter Johnny Willey, pianist Alex Halpern, drummer Alex Schaefer, flutist Cole Smith, and Sammy Manford, a transfer student from Ghana.  They will be joining a strong lineup of veteran soloists, including Nick Wu, on lead alto, Will Novak on trumpet, Carl Hamilton on drums, Ben Berry on piano, and bassist Ellis Nolan.  Tucker Benton on bari sax and Spencer Hoisington (he puts the “spence” in “indispensable”) on alto sax and clarinet.  The ensemble also welcomes fourth-year bassist, Joe Kerrigan who will perform the classic Ellington outing for standup bass: Jack The Bear.  Grant GianGrosso, a second-year, will be playing lead trumpet, supported by trumpeters Alice Pandeleon and Jared Levenson. After a paucity of trombonists in the past, the band now boasts a five-member bone section, anchored by lead player, Sully Higgins, and joined by veterans Kate Meldrum, Will Rimicci, and two first-year standouts, Laura Vaillancourt and Braden Ciszek. 

Throughout the pandemic the jazz ensemble recorded albums in a multi-track studio that allowed for horns and vocalists to be isolated while blowing and singing.  That music can be heard on virginiajazz.org.  As a result of that experience the Jazz Ensemble has made an ever-stronger commitment to original music from within the band.  On November 4th that tendency will be amplified to include the exciting music of their new colleague and collaborator, JoVia Armstrong.

To find out more about Jazz events at UVA visit https://music.virginia.edu/jazz-events.

Tickets are $10 for the general public,  $9 for UVA Faculty & Staff,  $5 for students, and Free for UVA Students who reserve in advance.  Tickets can be purchased at the UVA Arts Box Office, on-line at https://artsboxoffice.virginia.edu/, by phone (434) 924-3376 or in person at the Arts Box Office or at the door on the night of the concert.   The UVA Arts Box Office is located on the John and Betsy Casteen Arts Grounds, inside the lobby of the UVA Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Road. For directions, please visit UVA Visitors Map or view directions via Google Maps.

Old Cabell Hall is located on the south end of UVA’s historic lawn, directly opposite the Rotunda. (map) Parking is available in the central grounds parking garage on Emmet Street, in the C1 parking lot off McCormick Rd, and in the parking lots at the UVA Corner.  Handicap parking is available in the small parking lot adjacent to Bryan Hall.

All programs are subject to change.

Link to the live-stream of the concert.


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For more information please call the Department of Music at 434.924.3052.


UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176

Email: music@virginia.edu