University Park, IL,
14:56 PM

Relax and unWind with Jazz Legends, Governors State Alumni at the unGala Fundraiser April 4

Emmy award-winning jazz legend Orbert Davis is returning to the stage at Governors State University (GSU) on April 4 to join the university in celebrating its 50-year anniversary with his signature cross-generational “Legends and Lions” show.

Though Davis has performed at GSU on many occasions, this is the first time he’ll have the full weight of his 60-piece Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) orchestra, at the Center for Performing Arts (CPA).

“I promise that the audience will be in awe as they experience the impact of the Third Stream, where jazz and classical live on the same stage, at the same time,” said Davis.

A Southland native and a 2014 GSU honorary degree recipient, Davis admits the night will be special for him as well.

“Being born and raised in the Kankakee area, and serving as a clinician at the Prairie State Jazz Festival for over 20 years, my affinity for the Southland runs deep. CJP concerts at Governors State University have always felt like coming home."

The popular "Legends and Lions" show premiered in 2018 and showcases notable, up-and-coming musicians alongside Davis and Chicago jazz legends such as trumpeter Bobby Lewis and saxophonist Mwata Bowden (MA ’79).

At Governors State, lions—CJP's Jazz Academy program students and GSU graduates—will dazzle the audience with performances fine-tuned with musical masters.

One such lion is saxophonist and GSU alumnus Justin Smith (BA ’18), accompanied by trumpeter Randy Price, guitarist Julian Richey, and vibraphonist Thaddeus Tukes.

In a special graduation treat for Smith, the university sponsored a collaboration between Davis and Smith.

"It was incredible and a turning point for me,'' Smith said. "Watching someone of his caliber and then playing with him really gave me a vision for my own music." 

An aspiring musical director, Smith and his ensemble perform for various university events throughout year.

The 2020 unGala will be the highlight of his young career, he said. "I have great expectations."

Bowden is the third GSU alumnus included on the April 4 program. Bowden plays the family of clarinets, tenor and baritone saxophones, as well as the flute and the didgeridoo.

A Memphis native, Bowden attended Chicago's DuSable High School where he studied music with the legendary Captain Walter Dyett, who inspired such young talents as Nat King Cole, Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons, Von Freeman, Fred Hopkins, and Richard Davis.

Bowden studied classical music at Chicago's American Conservatory of Music, and later toured with the rhythm and blues group, the Chi-Lites. In 1974, he became active in Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), playing with the AACM Big Band with Muhal Richard Abrams and others.

He has performed at jazz and blues festivals throughout Chicago and around the world, including the 2004 Banlieues Bleues Jazz Festival, 2003 Chicago Jazz Festival.

Today, Bowden serves as Director of Jazz Ensembles at the University of Chicago.

Though Bowden and his fellow icons will render a unique experience for Southland, the show will also be a shining moment for Governors State with three graduates on stage among trailblazers who broke down barriers to make the moment possible, said Svetlana Rogachevskaya, CPA Director.

“This is an extraordinary showcase of our alumni musicians as well as an opportunity to honor Chicago Jazz legends,’’ she said.

And while organizers are expecting a jazzy affair, indeed, they want attendees to get lost in the sounds of the symphony—not the elements of an artistic dress code.

“We want people to come as they are and enjoy the evening. Feel free to unwind at the unGala,” Rogachevskaya said.

For more information or tickets, click here.