Press Release

"Movin' On"
A Musical Tribute to Mel Graves

Rohnert Park, CA- On Sunday, November 9th, a gifted and talented group of musicians will take the Warren Auditorium stage at Sonoma State University to pay tribute to one of their own, Mel Graves.  A composer, a jazz musician and educator, Graves will play a new role, honoree.  Likely Mel would be much more comfortable grabbing his bass, or scribbling charts or making valuable suggestions, but on this special night, it is a time for Mel Graves to sit back and watch as his friends, colleagues, students and musicians, take the time to thank him for all that he has given them.

         Graves is being honored for his many years of service to the University heading up the Jazz  studies department, and to offer him loving support as he battles pancreatic cancer.  The title of the evening's concert is aptly titled "Movin' On."  Mel came up with the title, and in some respects gives us insight into his creative and poetic mind.  Mel knows the score (no pun intended) of this battle, and even through the day to day difficulty, he has played a major role in crafting and producing this event.   He wouldn't have had it any other way.  This will be a night filled with hot jazz for a cool guy.

         The music begins at 7:30pm, and with the musical line-up expected, the night could well drift into Monday morning. The evening starts with selections from an All-Star group of alumni from the 80's to the present. Featured artists include Mel Martin, Randy Vincent, George Marsh,  and Peter Barshay.  Special guests include Art Lande and Denny Zeitlin.  Proceeds from the event will go toward establishing a Jazz Scholarship Fund to assist talented young jazz student musicians with their education. There is a suggested donation of $15.  This Tribute Concert will be held in the 200 seat Warren Auditorium and is likely to sell out. Purchasing tickets in advance through the School of Performing Arts Box Office at 707-664-2353 is suggested.

         Mel began his career at the University in the Fall of 1982.  Previous to coming to Sonoma State University, he had teaching gigs at U.C. Santa Cruz, Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Portland State University, and U.C. San Diego. 

         Mel holds an M.A in Music Composition and Performance from U.C. San Diego, a B.M. in Music Composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and did his undergraduate work at Ohio State University.

         Throughout Mel's career he has had the joy and pleasure of performing with an unbelievable group of musicians.  A sampling includes Larry Coryell, Mose Allison, Joe Henderson, Odean Pope, Dewey Redman, Kenny Werner, Kenny Wheeler, Bobby Shew, Larry Vuckovich, Dave Liebman, Herb Pomeroy, Mark Levine and too many more to mention.  He has also performed with the Turtle Island String Quartet, the Orpheus Ensemble out of New York City, the San Francisco Contemporary Players, the San Diego Symphony and the La Jolla Chamber Orchestra.  It has been a rich and exciting performance career.

         In recent years, Mel has spent much of his time composing. His 1999 composition "Spirit Changes" was a commission for the new millennium. It premiered at the Evert B. Person Theatre to a sold out house.   In 2001 he wrote eleven compositions for his CD "Earshot."  In 2006 his five movement suite for ten jazz musicians "From The Past To The New" was an amazing musical journey.  Mel's writing career dates back to the early seventies.

         Mel's influence on his students through the years is probably echoed best by Will Johnson, a longtime colleague...

    "Mel has been an inspiration, a mentor and sometimes a taskmaster, to so many students here."

         Mel's writing and performing have given him instant credibility with his students, and he demanded of them their very best in return.  He got their best many, many times witnessed by all the contest awards his ensembles won when in major competitions.  Usually the competition was against schools three times the size of Sonoma State University.

         Mel Graves, in his career,  has  been a top notch musician, a brilliant composer, a respected educator, a mentor to his students, and a friend to many.  Sunday, November 9th at 7:30pm is a time for all of those associates to thank him for his influence and inspiration

         It promises to be an inspiring evening filled with fabulous music honoring a terrific guy. You won't want to miss this.  A reception is planned for after the concert.


Your donation will establish a Jazz Scholarship Fund

School of Performing Arts BOX OFFICE: 707-664-2353

The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from Noon to 5pm

Parking at the University is FREE on the weekend and $2.50 during the week

Warren Auditorium is accessible to the disabled.