Renowned Jazz Musicians Coming to Schultz Campus Jazz on March 22

Food, wine, and jazz. What more could you want for a Sunday afternoon?

How about live jazz music from critically acclaimed musicians Gary Smulyan, Xavier Davis, Rodney Whitaker, and Keith Hall? This ensemble is making a special appearance at Jazz at the J on Sunday, March 19. The event takes place from 3-7 pm at the Shaw JCC, 750 White Pond Drive.

The event developed when Gary Smulyan, renowned baritone saxophonist who tours around the world, asked his manager if he could do a benefit. His manager happens to be Kathy Salem, an active member of the Akron Jewish community.

“Forty years ago, there were afternoon musicals and plays at the JCC,” says Salem. “We thought it would be nice to bring in more people to the campus.”

The afternoon of entertainment also serves to raise funds for the Shaw JCC, which may be used for the Camp Pavilion renovations and updating.  Jazz at the J tickets, which are $30, will help support the renovations. There are also $50 patron tickets available, which grants ticketholders VIP entrance an hour before the event to mingle with the musicians.

“They are the tops,” Salem says of the musicians. A master of bebop, Smulyan has shared the stage and the recording studio with luminaries including: Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Tito Puente, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Diana Ross. Smulyan also has at least ten recordings out under his own name.

“I wanted to have a really spectacular rhythm section,” Salem explains. Pianist Xavier Davis was the person she called, who put together the section. Davis, bassist Rodney Whitaker and percussionist Keith Hall are all professors in Michigan, and “they are very excited to come down here to play.”

Davis broke out when legendary vocalist Betty Carter hired him exclusively as the pianist of her working trio. Today, Davis is associate professor of jazz piano at Michigan State University and one of the most accomplished jazz pianists world wide.

Whitaker is an internationally renowned jazz bassist, professor of jazz double bass, director of Jazz Studies and artistic director for the Professors of Jazz at Michigan State University.

Hall is the director of the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive and is the Jazz Drum Set Professor at Western Michigan University.  He is also radio host for Jazz Currents on WMUK and tours the globe with singer Curtis Stigers and his New York trio TRI-FI.

To purchase tickets and for more information, visit This event is graciously underwritten by community supporters. Other sponsorship opportunities are available; please call 330-835-0025.




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