WPI to Host April Jazz Weekend Events

Concerts, symposium to focus on two Worcester area artists
March 24, 2014

Image removed.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will hold a Jazz Weekend to celebrate and perform the music of two Worcester area natives, Dave Pietro and John "Jaki" Byard. Pietro will hold a clinic/master class on his compositions, to be followed the next evening by a concert. A symposium will be held on the life and music of Jaki Byard, with a concert by the Jaki Byard Project: Yard Byard, to follow that same evening.


Dave Pietro, a Southboro native, is a saxophonist, woodwind artist, bandleader, sideman, composer and educator. Upon graduating from college in 1987, Pietro moved to New York, touring behind Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, and Maynard Ferguson. From 1994 he has played lead alto for the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.

Born in Worcester, Jaki Byard (1922 – 1999) was a jazz pianist, educator, composer and arranger who also played tenor and alto saxophones. He played with Maynard Ferguson in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was a member of bands led by Charles Mingus for several years, including on several studio and concert recordings. Byard was on the faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston for more than a decade.


Pietro will hold a clinic at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, and perform on Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m.

A symposium on the life and music of Byard will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, with a concert at 8 p.m. that evening by the Jaki Byard Project: Yard Byard, and a CD release of their latest recording. Many of the musicians in this ensemble studied under Byard at the New England Conservatory.


All of the Jazz Weekend events will take place in Alden Memorial, on the WPI campus, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, Mass.


The weekend events are focused on jazz and underwritten by two funds created by WPI alumni who realize the importance of jazz education. Dave Pietro's program is funded by The Susanne M. Firla '86 & William J. Firla '60 Endowed Fund. The Byard concert is the inaugural concert to be sponsored by a fund established by Scott Rudge '84, The Rudge Family Foundation Endowment. "Without the support of our generous alumni, these programs would not be possible," said Music Professor Richard Falco, director of jazz studies at WPI. "This weekend is designed to celebrate Worcester area jazz artists who went on to national prominence."

Other Information

WCCA Executive Director Mauro DePasquale and Tracy Foley will record the symposium for WCCA-TV, with a digital copy going to WPI's Jazz History Database. Also, WICN radio, an NPR affiliate in Worcester, will interview academics and performers prior to the Byard concert.