Jazz at Lincoln Center Partners Up with Fordham


Jazz at Lincoln Center is right down the block from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. (IAN SOKOLOWSKI/THE OBSERVER)


Just a block away from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus lies an incredible resource that only a few students know about. Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC), located on 60th and Broadway, is the largest not-for-profit jazz organization in the world. Fordham University has a partnership with JALC, allowing any and all Fordham students (law students, grad students, FCRH, FCLC, Gabelli, etc.) to be in a jazz performance ensemble that both practices and performs at JALC.

Matt Butterman, the Director of Jazz Performance at Fordham and the Director of Youth Programming at JALC, described his motivation for spearheading the partnership several years ago. “There really were no performing ensembles for the students prior to this,” Buttermann said. “The students could do choir, band and orchestra at Rose Hill, but nothing within the music department. Considering that there was no space available, I pitched an idea to the department to host an ensemble of some kind at Jazz at Lincoln Center.”

“About 25 students signed up right away, so we did three ensembles for six weeks and then did a concert at the end of the semester, and it went really well. The response was so good that immediately the next semester we formalized a small agreement with Jazz at Lincoln Center for space exchange so the students could come on a regular basis.”

Each semester, there are three to five small chamber jazz ensembles and one large jazz orchestra available to students as 0- or 1-credit courses with a lab fee. This semester, the ensembles are Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Composition Ensemble, Jazz Messengers Ensemble, Jazz Standards Ensemble and Jazz Classics Ensemble. Each of the small ensembles performs two to three times a semester at JALC, but Buttermann explained that there are many more opportunities available beyond performance.

“We’ve done the festival every March—this will be the third year—for the New York City High School Jazz Band Festival. Students go to concerts [at JALC] all the time; it just opens up a huge resource to really any Fordham students to go to the concerts, see the classes, watch rehearsals, be in an ensemble—just sort of experience jazz at any kind of level.”

The partnership between JALC and Fordham offers a unique opportunity for students to rehearse, study, perform and enjoy all that Jazz at Lincoln Center has to offer. Juilliard is the only other college with ties to JALC, and even that partnership functions differently.

“I think that says something about the mutual mission between Fordham and JALC, that it’s giving access to and enriching people’s lives with jazz with no expectation of professional development,” Buttermann said. “It’s just a really high quality, enriching experience for students, which is obviously a different mission than Juilliard’s. No other college gets the opportunity to come in here and treat it like another classroom and another resource. It’s a very unique, special arrangement.”

Fordham’s Jazz Ensembles will hold their first performance on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. in the Atrium (5th floor, JALC). The final concerts of the semester will be the Fordham Fall Jazz Night on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. (Jazz Recording Studio, 5th Floor, JALC) and a joint performance between Jazz Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra on Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. (Pope Auditorium). All performances are free to attend.