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School of the Arts

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Jazz X-Press: The Smell of Jazz

Rocky Winslow and Bobby Shew
(L-R) Rocky Winslow & Bobby Shew

California State University, Chico’s School of the Arts presents the Jazz X-Press and special guest artist Bobby Shew in the concert The Smell of Jazz. The performance takes place Saturday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre. Tickets are available at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

This concert spotlights a newly created Jazz X-Press community composition, The Smell of Jazz, inspired by Frank Zappa and his quote “Jazz isn’t dead . . . it just smells funny.”

The concert also spotlights Bobby Shew, legendary jazz artist and educator. In addition to The Smell of Jazz, music presented at the concert includes Shew’s features Oblivion, Up Jumped Spring, Night in Tunisia and Cubano Chant.

“Most of our smell of jazz will definitely be Bobby Shew!” said Rocky Winslow, director and Department of Music and Theatre faculty member. “

Student soloists to be featured in these compositions include Jaik Hakkarinen (drums), Anthony Paneno (drums), Daisy Ferris (drums), Alexis Barragan (trombone), Caden Wentworth (bass) and Jacob McDonald (piano).

“The Jazz X-Press concerts are always a good time with good music, and being able to schedule Bobby Shew in as our special guest makes it a not to miss event,” said Winslow.

Beginning Wednesday, April 1 (the day of Shew’s arrival to town), there will be workshops, performances and clinics each evening leading up to the concert. Topics include What is Talent, The Role of Music Education, Trumpet and Brass Playing and Jazz Improvisation and the Creative Process.

“Music is the voice of our soul as humans,” said Rocky. “I always hope to add some of the ‘feeling’ to enhance the quality of life for anybody and everybody possible.”

Tickets for the concert are priced at $18 adults, $16 seniors, and $6 students and youth, and are available to purchase at CSU, Chico’s University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

For those who need special seating accommodations, please call 530-898-6333. More information is available online at the School of the Arts website and Facebook page.

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Story by Shelby Casey, School of the Arts publicity assistant


About Special Guest Artist, Bobby Shew

Frank Zappa bust
Bobby Shew

The special guest artist featured in this spring’s Jazz X-Press concert, “The Smell of Jazz” is Bobby Shew.

Bobby Shew is an American jazz trumpet player who excels as both a band member and a solo artist.

When Shew was eight years old, he played his first instrument, the guitar, which led to his exploration of different sounds, genres and instruments. At the age of ten, he picked up his current instrument, the trumpet. Shew’s stepfather owned a Montgomery Ward trumpet and taught him how to read music from an embouchure. At the age of 15, he started his own band and played at local venues such as jazz coffee shops and concerts.

After he left college, Shew played the part of a soloist in the multi-service band NORAD (Northern American Aerospace Defense Command). He then became a part of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, which opened up a world of opportunity for him. Since he was under the direction of Sam Donahue, he was able to perform with Charlie Shavers. Shavers was known as a trumpet legend within the jazz community.

Shew began to acquire recognition on a large scale by playing lead trumpet for a variety of pop stars. Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Barbra Streisand and Smokey Robinson were some of the artists he collaborated with. Some of the well-known songs Shew played with Elvis included “In the Ghetto” and “Falling in Love.”

Shew then went on to produce his own albums. He was nominated for a Grammy for Outstanding in his Field in 1980. He received a Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year in 1983 for Heavy Company. His music ranked high on the jazz radio charts.

Shew pushed his career even further by diving into studio work. He produced soundtracks for a variety of movies and TV shows such as Grease, Rocky, Hawaii 5-0 and Happy Days.

Shew is interested in music education and teaching. He leads clinics and master classes worldwide. Shew has also been an active member of the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild and was the National Trumpet Chairman for the International Association of Jazz Educators. He had the opportunity to partner with Yamaha to design the YTR-8310Z trumpet, where his goal for the instrument was maximum efficiency; he wanted to make the trumpet easier for musicians to play.

In an article published by the Yamaha Entertainment Group of America, Shew elaborated on why he wanted to become a music educator. 

“I had some horrible education experiences as a kid, largely because there was a lot of negativity about jazz in the schools. That ignited a fire in me, a belief that the music I loved so much should be encouraged.”

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Story by Tashia Jones, School of the Arts publicity assistant


Frank Zappa and Jazz

Frank Zappa bust

California State University, Chico’s School of the Arts presents the Jazz X-Press concert, “The Smell of Jazz” on Saturday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre. Purchase tickets at the University Box Office or by calling 530-898-6333.

In 1973, Frank Zappa famously said, “Jazz is not dead…it just smells funny.” The Jazz X-Press pays homage to the works of Frank Zappa with professor and student arrangements in a Big Band setting.

Zappa (1940–1993) was an American musician, composer, and bandleader with a career spanning over 30 years. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era, utilizing free-form improvisation, sound experiments, and satire of the American culture. Although he is identified as a rock musician, Zappa has also composed jazz, jazz fusion, pop, orchestral and musique concrete works. Zappa’s connection with jazz was recognized throughout his career, and his jazz-rock works are still played by jazz musicians today.

Zappa’s band, The Mothers of Invention, was signed to MGM in 1964 after Tom Wilson heard the rock ‘n’ roll band perform a blues song. Both rock ‘n’ roll and jazz have roots in the blues. Despite being identified as a rock group, the Mothers played at the Boston Globe Jazz Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, and were invited to tour as part of the George Wein package. During this period, Zappa took advantage of his time around jazz musicians to sit in with them, which produced more color in his future compositions.

Zappa released several jazz works during his career. “America Drinks and Goes Home” from the album Absolutely Free (1967) is a song protesting the trivialization of jazz. It is a parody of a lounge band playing watered-down jazz music with Tin Pan Alley’s overused formula II-V-I. In 1969, The Mothers came out with Burnt Weeny Sandwich, a proto-jazz-rock album. The jazz waltz “Toads of the Short Forest” appeared on the album Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970) and included a spoken commentary on the jazz time signatures. After the Mothers breakup, Zappa released three albums (1969–1972) that became known as his jazz-rock trilogy, Hot Rats, Waka/Jawaka, and The Grand Wazoo. Hot Rats is a mostly instrumental jazz-rock album in which Zappa played the guitar. It is missing his signature satire. Two well-known songs off the album are “Peaches en Regalia” and “Son of Mr. Green Genes.” “Twenty Small Cigars,” an outtake from this album, later appeared on the album Chunga’s Revenge and is considered by many to be Zappa’s jazz masterpiece.

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Story by Shelby Casey, School of the Arts publicity assistant


About Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa (1940-1993) was an American musician, composer and bandleader. He was best known for his defiance to conformity, experimental sounds, improvisation and satire of American culture.

Zappa pushed the boundaries by developing a style that fused the elements of rock, pop, jazz, orchestral and musique concret. In his 30-year career, Zappa produced over 60 albums as a solo artist and with his band, The Mothers of Invention.

Zappa’s musical and performance abilities were self-taught. Zappa was exposed to a wide array of musical influences during his teenage years; his record collection reflected that. His record collection included artists such as Johnny “Guitar” Watson (R&B), The Channels (doo-wop) and Igor Stravinsky (modern classical).

Zappa’s interest in music developed when his parents purchased a phonograph. During his adolescence, he wrote a series of classical pieces. He also played drums in a rhythm and blues band at Mission Bay High School in San Diego before making the electric guitar his primary instrument. 

Zappa’s debut album, Freak Out!, was released with the Mothers of Invention in 1966. The album was a combination of rock and roll with improvisation, including R&B and sound collages.

Zappa was considered the “godfather of comedy rock” because of his lyrics. His lyrics often reflected iconoclastic views of social/political processes and movements. Zappa strongly believed in freedom of speech, self-education, participation in politics and the removal of censorship. Zappa’s music was described as satirical because many of his songs were parodies.

Zappa’s career landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. He achieved the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Zappa’s Apostrophe made Billboard’s Top 10. Rolling Stone magazine included him on their “Greatest Artists of All Time” lists as well the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” 

Hit songs such as “Montana,” Joe’s Garage” and “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” are widely popular amongst Zappa’s fans. 

In addition to producing for himself, Zappa also produced for other artists, including Alice Cooper, Grand Funk and Captain Beefheart. 

Spencer Dryden (drummer for the Jefferson Airplane) says, “If we have to have a spokesman for what is going on today, musically and every other way, Frank Zappa gets my vote.”

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Story by Tashia Jones, School of the Arts publicity assistant


About the Jazz X-Press

The Jazz X-Press, directed by Rocky Winslow, is the top jazz ensemble at CSU, Chico. There are about 20 CSU, Chico students of any major in this auditioned ensemble. Instrumentation includes trombone, trumpet, saxophone, bass, guitar, drums, and piano. The Jazz X-Press plays pieces from standard big band jazz to cutting edge jazz to student compositions. Styles of pieces can include standard jazz, funk, Latin, rock, etc. In their concerts, the ensemble makes use of jazz improvisation and original “charts” written specifically for the ensemble.


About the Director

Rocky Winslow picture, portrait style

Rocky Winslow has been the director of jazz studies at California State University, Chico since 2002. Winslow received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz studies from University of North Texas. In addition to his experiences as a professor, Winslow is also a professional trumpet Yamaha artist and clinician, appearing regularly at high schools and universities around the country. He has served as the all-state guest conductor and a trumpet clinician for music education associations in Texas, Nevada, California, Arkansas, Hawaii, Australia, Japan, and Scotland. As a performer, Winslow has shared the stage, recorded, and toured with artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Tony Bennett, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Falcone Orchestra, Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson, The Temptations, Don Menza Big Band, Natalie Cole, Drew Carey, Paul Anka, The Four Tops, Bob Newhart, Frankie Valli, and many others.