Music legends Ramsey Lewis and Orbert Davis sat down with Ravinia Festival president and CEO Welz Kauffman to share their journeys in the world of jazz music and give their thoughts on the future of the genre.
Thirty-seven student musicians from Cuba’s national conservatory of the arts, the Universidad de las Artes (ISA), traveled to Chicago as guests of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic (CJP) for a week-long cultural exchange that culminated with a landmark performance with CJP at the Auditorium Theatre. This collaboration with ISA began with Orbert’s visit to Cuba as part of the Havana International Jazz Festival in December 2014. Orbert and members of CJP were rehearsing with the students at ISA during President Obama’s historic announcement of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, thrusting Davis and company into the international spotlight on “60 Minutes.”
Ingenuity welcomes David Gordon and Orbert Davis to its Board of Directors. Gordon is a partner with Sidley Austin LLP, a global law firm with 1,900 lawyers, where he serves as Deputy Group Head for the 110-lawyer Litigation Group in Chicago. Davis is an Emmy-Award winning trumpeter, composer and educator, as well as co-founder, conductor and artistic director of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, a 55+ piece symphonic jazz orchestra.
“We are excited to have David and Orbert join our Board of Directors,” says Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director at Ingenuity. “David’s legal acumen, strong experience with municipal structures, and passion for the arts along with Orbert’s experience as a performer and founder of one of Chicago’s prized youth music programs are huge assets for Ingenuity as we continue our work towards ensuring an arts education for all Chicago Public Schools students.”
David Gordon has led winning teams in numerous high-profile cases, at trial and on appeal, involving challenging financial, economic, and accounting issues. His experience spans a variety of substantive areas, including complex commercial litigation, government investigations, professional liability actions, and securities and shareholder derivative litigation.
“A robust arts education gave me the confidence and ability to communicate effectively with an audience-one of the essential foundations for my work as a litigator,” Gordon says. “No matter what path any child ultimately will take, he or she deserves the opportunities provided by arts education, and I am thrilled to contribute to Ingenuity’s mission to make that goal a reality.”
Gordon has successfully represented numerous indigent clients on a pro bono basis, and has received the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Prior to joining Sidley, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable John F. Grady of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Gordon holds a JD from the University of Chicago Law School and a BA in political science from Northwestern University.
Obert Davis’ jazz music has garnered an LA Times 4-star review, hit the Top-50 “most played on national radio,” and has been named Top-10 best Jazz CDs of by the Chicago Tribune. Davis is founder of “Jazz Alive”, the arts education outreach arm of Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and owns and operates Discover Music: Discover Life, Inc. which uses music to teach academic and life skills.
“As a co-founder, artistic director and conductor of the Chicago Youth Jazz Philharmonic, it has been my goal to bring the joy of music together with the discipline it teaches and share it with as many young people as possible,” Davis says. “Joining Ingenuity’s board provides me the wonderful opportunity to help advance arts-in-education for many more of Chicago’s youth.”
Davis is a former associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and artist-in-residence at Columbia College Chicago. He was one of the original instructors for the Ravinia Festival’s Jazz in the Schools program and has served as a performing and workshop artist for Urban Gateways. Davis has a Bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance from DePaul University and a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy from Northwestern University.
Ingenuity’s Board of Directors represents a broad range of expertise, including nonprofit management, philanthropy, business, the arts, higher and public education, research, and communications.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune
Award-winning Chicago musician Orbert Davis is best known as a world class jazz trumpet virtuoso, but he’s also an educator who wants to keep music in schools.
Davis, the founder of the 55-piece Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, is also an Emmy-award winning composer. Another passion that runs deep: teaching jazz, and other life lessons, through the Jazz Alive Program.
“It’s about, ‘Boy if I can spend some time with my instrument, I will be better.’ And we also transfer those skills to their academic success as well. Do more reading. Do more studying of words. Make your words come alive through you instrument,” he said.
For the young musicians at Lionel Hampton Fine and Performing Arts School in the city’s Ashburn neighborhood, the lessons are priceless.
“I learned that if I practice a lot I can turn out to be just as good as him,” Terron Montgomery said.
“It’s been an honor. I’ve learned a lot from watching him perform, watching him speak, watching him work with kids,” music teacher Nadine Smith said.
“When you stepped forward, you are now performing with them,” Davis said. “They will never forget that and that’s what school should be: experiences that we never forget.”
Davis and school administrators said there aren’t discipline problems in the schools that offer Jazz Alive. Instead, the educators see improvements in grades and a stronger sense of community.
By Hosea Sanders