Nashville Jazz Orchestra begins residency with Vanderbilt‘s Blair School of Music

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a union of talented musicians and students striving to master the craft, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra is establishing a residency at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt to help bring this unique American sound directly to the next generation of artists.

To celebrate the partnership, the 16-piece Nashville Jazz Orchestra will perform at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, at the scenic Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory as part of the Music on the Mountain concert series. Popular vocalist Annie Sellick will be featured.

Admission is free and patrons can contribute to a fund established by the Preservation Hall Foundation to provide relief to New Orleans musicians who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

“The Nashville Jazz Orchestra‘s residency at the Blair School brings together performance, creativity, education and community outreach in the best ways,” said Mark Wait, dean of the Blair School of Music. “We are proud of this partnership, which will benefit our students and all the citizens of our community.”

The Nashville Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit association dedicated to the performance of quality jazz by some of Nashville‘s best studio musicians. The band‘s repertoire includes standard big band tunes and original arrangements by local artists.

Jim Williamson, director of the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, said the residency allows his organization to fulfill its mission “to preserve, advance and promote big band jazz appreciation to our children and to our communities through live performance, workshops and quality recordings.”

The residency began with the efforts of Billy Adair, adjunct associate professor of jazz studies at the Blair School of Music. A studio musician for 30 years, Adair has worked with a majority of the Nashville Jazz Orchestra‘s members and was originally approached by Williamson about doing a rehearsal and clinic at the Blair School.

In a matter of days, with the approval of Wait, Adair and Williamson had formalized the residency.

“In my opinion, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra is probably the best non-touring jazz band in the country,” Adair said. “It is stunningly strong.”

Starting almost immediately, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra will begin rehearsing at the Blair School once a month and will give master classes and workshops for Blair School students in Billy Adair‘s Big Band, which is in its fourth year at Vanderbilt and is a credit course that involves students from several disciplines.

The Jazz Orchestra also will perform three or four concerts a year at the Blair School.

Adair said access to the Nashville Jazz Orchestra‘s musicians will be invaluable to students.

“The students will be exposed to very strong studio musicians that will spend time with them once a month. An opportunity to hear a band of that caliber makes a big difference to a student,” he said.

Visitors to the concert are encouraged to bring a picnic supper, chairs or a blanket and relax on the lawn. There will be a viewing through the Dyer Observatory‘s telescope after the concert.

For more information about the show, visit, or call (615) 373-4897.

To learn more about the Blair School of Music and the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, visit and

Media contact: Todd Vessel, (615) 322-NEWS

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