Jazz on Hill | Roy McCurdy

On Friday, May 12, PCM’s annual Jazz on Hill event returned after a 3-year hiatus, demonstrating the indomitable spirit of jazz and the PCM community.

Started in 2013, Jazz on Hill is a multi-purpose event, bringing together the full spectrum of the PCM Jazz Studies community, including school-age students, adult students, and faculty. The central purpose is to celebrate a phenomenal jazz musician’s life, artistry, and their professional impact in relation to a chosen theme (e.g. “Jazz and Classical Music”). This year’s event celebrated the work and career of Jazz legend and PCM’s own, Roy McCurdy.

3 photos of jazz drummer Roy McCurdy

“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone like Roy on our faculty,” says Dr. Ray Briggs, Chair of the Jazz Studies Department. “Typically, the list of accomplishments that represent the work of a musician is exhaustive. However, with Roy’s extensive and very productive career, it is practically impossible to note everything that he has done. From working with THE greatest vocalists in jazz history like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson to performing with THE leading instrumentalists of our tradition like Sonny Rollins and Cannonball Adderley, Roy is a living legend. To top it all off, he is an incredibly humble and accessible man. I have to pinch myself every now and then to make sure that having him on the PCM faculty isn’t just a dream!”

Jazz on Hill provides our students and community members opportunities to engage with the artist in the intimate setting of an open interview in the morning, a masterclass/ensemble coaching session in the afternoon, and a concert featuring our student groups, jazz faculty, and the guest artist in the evening.

As always, this year’s concert opened with performances from PCM youth and adult student combos. When asked about participating in this year’s Jazz on Hill concert, Andres Olmos replied, “Jazz on Hill has always been, and, by the looks of it, will always continue to be to be a fun-filled yearly tradition with some fantastic performances and performers who slap songs together with the passion and vigor you’d expect from jazz combos. Every Jazz on Hill I’ve been a part of has been a blast, and I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities the Conservatory has granted me to make life-long friendships, build a better musical repertoire, and bop out with some buddies. I mean, some of these jam sessions have really been the stuff of legend.”

While most jazz events are structured in a way that attendees only get to experience the music in performance, Jazz on Hill is unique in that it offers a number of portals into the artist’s life and work, ultimately providing a deeper understanding of the music and the musician. “I envision Jazz on Hill as a malleable event that has a standing reputation of excellence. While the high quality should be expected, the featured guest artist, repertoire explored, and inspiration derived from the total event will be new every year,” says Briggs.

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about PCM’s Jazz Department, taking lessons with one of our esteemed faculty members, or joining a youth or adult combo, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a free trial. Also be sure to check out our workshops and camps this summer.

We hope to see you on campus soon!