The Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Concert Series
Inception: Aaron Silberman
In 1992 Aaron Silberman, founder and CEO of the American Thermoplastics Company (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and a long-standing board member of Baruch College, made a generous contribution of $20,000 to support a jazz concert series at Baruch. A clarinetist by avocation and a jazz aficionado, Silberman wished to bring accomplished jazz artists who, through workshop/lectures and performance, would inform and provide an educational and musical aesthetic for Baruch students and faculty in particular, and the Baruch community in general.
The initial seed money was to have funded annual concerts over a five-year period. In subsequent years the majority funding has come from the Baruch College Fund, some from the Office of Student Development, and most recently through the Baruch Performing Arts Center.
Overall, the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Concert series offers a liberal arts counterpoint to Baruch’s academic emphasis on business and public affairs. By offering students, faculty, and college administrators periodic concerts that draw upon the richness of America’s indigenous musical culture, the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives performances offer another dimension to the education of its more than 15,000 students.
The Concert Series Inspiration: Milt Hinton, the “Judge”
The concept for the Jazz Perspectives concert series was inspired by the presence of bassist Milt Hinton at Baruch College who, for many years, led a weekly afternoon jazz workshop. Hinton, fondly called “The Judge,” is regarded as the dean of jazz bass players.
The 1992 inaugural Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives concert starred jazz bassist Milt Hinton himself together with his picks for an “All-Star” ensemble: Seldon Powell (saxophonist), Bob Rosengarden (Drums), Mike Walters (saxophone and woodwinds), Derek Smith (piano), Jay D’Amico (piano), Mike Grey (trombone), and John “Bucky” Pizzarelli (guitar). This magical first concert saw famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis join the group during the second half.
The following year, Tito Puente and his big band also played to a full house with some students and faculty dancing in the aisles. In 1994, the concert was billed as a “Tribute to Women in Jazz” and featured a performance by singer Ruth Brown and Friends and the group Straight Ahead. In 1995, trombonist extraordinaire Slide Hampton and the Big Band Bird filled the bill for the fourth annual concert.
In 1996, America’s jazz statesman Dr. Billy Taylor and the Billy Taylor Trio graced the Baruch College stage. In 1997, Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band gave a performance that offered a unique blend of Latin and jazz traditions. The 1998 concert presented virtuoso drummer Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Big Band.
The world famous Mingus Big Band played at the eighth annual concert in 1999. The Bronx Horns, consisting of Tito Puente’s brass section, together with Dave Valentin (flute) and Randy Brecker (trumpet), performed at the ninth annual concert in 2000. In 2001, The Heath Brothers (“Percy, Jimmy, and Tootie”) with special guest Jimmy Owens, performed at the 10th annual concert.
The Series Expands
In 2002, (season #11) the Hinton Committee expanded its offerings with a series of concerts, including a Nov. 6, 2002 concert featuring “The Latin-Jazz All Stars” with several world-renown Latin-jazz musicians: trumpeter/leader Michael Mossman, tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, bassist Andy Gonzalez, and percussionist Phoenix Rivera.
The 2002-2003 season also featured the Marty Sheller Big Band, Chris Washburne’s SYOTOS Latin-Jazz ensemble, and “Rumbamerica,” an Afro-Cuban ensemble made up of some of New York’s top Afro-Cuban drummers, singers, and dancers.
The 2003-2004 season featured The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the “Sax in the City” quartet, the Ted Piltzecker Septet, and the Roberta Piket Trio.
As in the previous two years, for the 2004-2005 season, the Hinton committee organized a series of concerts starting with the Nov. 4, 2004 performance of the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Arturo O’Farrill. Dikki Du and the Zydeco Crew performed in the lobby of the vertical campus in early December 2004. On Feb. 10, 2005 Grammy-nominated vocalist Carla Cook appeared in Baruch’s Engelman Recital Hall venue, as did the Andy LaVerne Piano-Organ Trio (with drummer Danny Gottlieb and keyboardist Gary Versace) in March 2005.
The 2005-2006 season saw “Drummer of the Year” Bobby Sanabria and Quarteto Ache perform in October 2005, followed by the George Gee Swing Orchestra on December 1, and the 2006 Grammy-award winning Turtle Island String Quartet on Feb. 15, 2006. The 2005-2006 season ended with a performance by the Andy Middleton Octet. This performance marked the first time a Hinton jazz series concert was co-funded by Chamber Music America (CMA). Middleton garnered a prestigious jazz composition commission from CMA in 2004.