Jazz Studies News from the 2014-2015 Academic Year

SoCal VoCals a cappella group wins fourth international championship in New York City

May 6, 2015

The premiere USC a cappella group, SoCal VoCals, recently won first place at the 2015 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, or the I.C.C.A., in New York City. This was the fourth time that the group has taken the title, following wins in 2008, 2010 and 2012. The SoCal VoCals’ 2015 I.C.C.A. triumph was documented […]


Thom Mason featured in article about Jelly Roll Morton

May 1, 2015

Thom Mason, professor and founder of the Jazz Studies department at USC Thornton, was featured in an article by LA Downtown News. He spoke about the legacy of jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton. “[Morton] deserves more recognition than we tend to give him today,” Mason said in the article, which profiles a recent theatrical piece […]


Ron McCurdy composes jazz soundtrack for new stage play

April 16, 2015

Music composed by USC Thornton Jazz Studies professor Ron McCurdy served as a backdrop for Dreaming of Harlem Under a Southern Sky, a new play by Gabrielle Pina that premiered at USC’s Bovard Auditorium on March 28th. The play, which tells the story of three women from New Orleans who travel to Harlem during the […]


Student jazz quartet featured at short film screening

April 8, 2015

A quartet of USC Thornton students performed a concert of live jazz in conjunction with a screening of the USC alumni-produced short film, David’s Reverie. Paul Cornish (BM ’17, keyboard), Henry Solomon (BM ’17, saxophone), Stephen Davis (BM ’17, trumpet) and Celeste Butler (BM ’17, popular music) complimented the screening with interpretations of jazz standards, […]


Thornton faculty and student performers featured at 2015 USC Trustee Conference

March 30, 2015

The USC Thornton Latin Jazz Ensemble and USC Thornton Chamber Orchestra were featured as part of the university’s 2015 Trustee Conference, which was held in La Quinta, California, during the last weekend of March. The Thornton Latin Jazz Ensemble presented an evening of Brazilian bossa nova under the guidance of Jazz Studies lecturer Aaron Serfaty
, […]


Alan Chan leads his ensemble in performance at El Camino College

March 25, 2015

USC Thornton alumni Alan Chan (DMA ’08), founder of the Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra, led the group in a performance at the El Camino College Center for Performing Arts on March 6. The band’s debut album Shrimp Tale received rave reviews from several critics. “Quick, clever, and well-executed shifts in mood, meter, and musical language […]


Peter Erskine interviewed in KCET’s Artbound about film “Whiplash”

December 5, 2014

Acclaimed drummer and Jazz Studies faculty Peter Erskine was interviewed in KCET’s Artbound about the recent film Whiplash that depicts the relationship between a young drummer (Miles Teller) and an intense band leader (J.K. Simmons). Erskine said: “…the big band chart titled Whiplash which serves as inspiration and background to the movie — is a […]


Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet, featuring Jazz Studies alumni, release debut album

October 30, 2014

Sophisticated Lady Jazz Quartet – which features USC Thornton alumni Andrew Boyle (BM ’12, MM ’14), Misha Adair Bigos (MM, ’14), JJ Kirkpatrick (MM, ’14), and Gary Wicks (MM, ’13) – released their debut album in September 2014 via Yarlung Records. The self-titled album was recorded on campus at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute in Camilleri Hall and was praised by The […]


Play scored by Jazz Studies faculty Ron McCurdy to have East Coast debut

October 7, 2014

Letters from Zora, the play featuring music by Jazz Studies faculty Ron McCurdy, will have its East Coast debut run beginning October 9 at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The play, which received a nomination for a 2014 NAACP Image Award, was written by McCurdy’s wife, Gabrielle Pena, who teachers in USC’s […]


USC Thornton alumna and Jazz Studies faculty Kathleen Grace’s “No Place to Fall” receives critical praise

October 3, 2014

Kathleen Grace, USC Thornton alumna and current Jazz Studies faculty, released her fourth studio album, No Place to Fall, to rave reviews. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote Grace creates a “hybrid of country, jazz and classic torch songs,” all the while constructing her own unique, fresh spin on classic sounds. A review from The Canadian Audiophile […]


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