Emerging from a year of regrouping after the loss of Jazz Director Mel Graves, the Sonoma State University Music Department welcomes trombonist and composer Doug Leibinger to head the jazz program. One of his first tasks is to assemble players for the Mel Graves Scholarship Concert that takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Warren Auditorium, the anniversary of Mel's death and one year after the historic "Movin' On" tribute to his life and work at SSU.
Today, as then, the task is an easy one, with all of SSU's jazz faculty on board. Sharing the stage will be Bob Afifi, flute, Jim Rothermel, sax, Pete Estabrook, trumpet, Leibinger on trombone, John Simon, piano, Randy Vincent, guitar and George Marsh, percussion.
The occasion also marks the debut of SSU's new bass teacher, Cliff Hugo, known for his work with artists as diverse as Warne Marsh, Ray Charles and Supertramp. Plan to arrive early as a packed house is expected. There is a suggested donation of $15 that will contribute directly to scholarships for SSU's jazz students.
A Chicago native, Leibinger holds three degrees in jazz performance from the University of Miami. During his graduate studies there, he directed the studio jazz band for four years and taught almost every class in the curriculum. He was a trombone soloist on the UM Concert Jazz Band's recording of Maria Schneider's "Three Romances," which was nominated for a Grammy award in 2004.
Leibinger is also an active composer and arranger. His composition, "Ring Shout," was performed at the 2nd International Jazz Composer's Symposium in Tampa, FL. Leibinger's residence in South Florida for 18 years led to professional engagements in a wide variety of styles. His credits include Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Claire Fischer, Maria Schneider, Chayanne, Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Jose Luis "El Puma" Rodriguez, Jimmy Buffett, Sam Moore, Les Elgart, Jerry Lewis, Peter Cetera, and many more. Before coming to SSU, Doug was the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia for four years.
Leibinger's course load includes jazz composition, arranging and improvisation, two concert jazz ensembles and the newly formed Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band. The Jazz Orchestra gives its first full concert at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13 in Warren Auditorium.
ABOVE, Mel Graves
NOTE: Digital photo of Doug Leibinger is available upon request