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Internationally acclaimed drummer to join ASU School of Music

January 11, 2017

Internationally acclaimed jazz drummer Lewis Nash, named the most valuable player in jazz by Modern Drummer Magazine, will join the faculty of the ASU School of Music in January 2017 as the Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft Professor of Practice in Jazz.

“We are thrilled that Lewis Nash has agreed to join our School of Music community and return to his home,” said Heather Landes, director of the Arizona State University School of Music. “Mr. Nash not only brings his international reputation and knowledge as one of today’s most distinguished jazz artists to our program, but our students will benefit greatly from his outstanding teaching and mentorship.”

Nash is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists — from jazz masters to the hottest young players of today — and is equally in demand as a clinician and educator. His career spans over 30 years and includes performance on 10 Grammy award–winning albums and an impressive discography of over 400 recordings with jazz legends such as Betty Carter, Tommy Flanagan, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter and Clark Terry, as well as such contemporary jazz artists as Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. Nash has become a highly sought after jazz educator and is sponsored by Sakae drums, Zildjian cymbals, Remo drumheads and Vic Firth drumsticks.

Nash was born and raised in the Phoenix metropolitan area, attending Percy L. Julian School, East Phoenix High School and Arizona State University. Nash credits local mentors in the 1970s, pianists Charles Lewis and Keith Greko, pianist-composer Prince Shell, saxophonist Allan Chase and ASU jazz program founder Bob Miller with giving him a tremendous foundation and his start in jazz. Nash moved to New York in 1981 but has kept many ties with the Phoenix community, and in 2012 the local jazz organization, Jazz in Arizona, founded The Nash, a jazz club in downtown Phoenix named for Nash. The club is now recognized by Downbeat Magazine as one of the top jazz venues in the United States.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and faculty,” said Michael Kocour, associate professor and director of jazz studies. “While I as a longtime jazz educator may hypothesize with our students about the performance practices and compositional thinking that have gone into the making of some of the most significant jazz recordings of our time, Lewis Nash can speak to our students directly about what it was like to actually make those recordings. There’s a big difference.”

Nash will teach applied lessons, a rhythm section class, jazz combos and a jazz repertoire class, and will contribute to community engagement and recruiting the talented jazz musicians of tomorrow for the ASU School of Music jazz studies program. Nash will continue his active schedule of performances around the world as part of his faculty role.

“I am truly honored to accept the Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft Professor of Practice role in the ASU School of Music,” Nash said. “The school’s mission of preparing creative leaders who will transform our society through music inspires me, and I look forward to the opportunity to play a role in the nurturing of the next generation of jazz artists.”

This named position was made possible by a sizeable gift from Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft, longtime supporters of the ASU jazz program. Bob Ravenscroft is an accomplished pianist-keyboardist, jazz musician, composer, recording artist, teacher and entrepreneur whose creative work represents the flexible and interdisciplinary thinking that all music students in the ASU School of Music aspire to develop.

“The Ravenscrofts have been wonderful contributors to our jazz program for many years,” Landes said. “Their support of the arts and jazz, in particular, in the Phoenix metropolitan area, has been unwavering. We are grateful to the Ravenscrofts for their incredible generosity and for this sustainable gift supporting musical innovation in the ASU School of Music.” 

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Deborah.Susser@asu.edu