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New Black Music in Chicago

new-black-music-all-workshops-1-20-400px.pngNew Black Music in Chicago:
Artists' Reflections on Music, Race, and Entrepreneurship

Taught by Professor Nitasha Tamar Sharma
Black Studies 327 | Winter 2024
See the full course description at the bottom of this page.

Follow on Instagram: @blackjazznu

Read an article about the course in Northwestern Magazine.

For more information on the series, please contact





Public welcome! All workshops are held from 4:00 - 5:00 pm in Wirtz Hall #101 (1949 Campus Drive) on Northwestern's Evanston campus.

parkermccraven-0123-flier-400px.pngTues., January 23, 2024
Jazz Production, Race, and Improvisation
Featured artists:
Jazz luminaries Jeff Parker (electric guitar, DJ, composer) and Makaya McCraven (drums, composer, producer) will lead a session on improvisation with guitar and drums.







brandee-younger-flyer-final-400px.jpgThurs., February 8, 2024
Gender and Jazz Workshop
Featured artist:
Grammy-nominated harpist Brandee Younger (harp)




hill-and-ward_2_15_24-400px.pngThurs., February 15, 2024
Approaches to Jazz Improvisation
Featured artists:
Monk competition award-winning trumpeter and Berklee professor Marquis Hill and renowned composer and University of Indiana professor Greg Ward on alto saxophone.
Hill and Ward will discuss approaches to jazz improvisation, including through limitation, free form writing, and spontaneous improvisation.




ben-lamar-gray-and-junius-paul-flyer-1-400px.jpgTues., February 27, 2024
Chicago Creative Music
Featured artists:
Forward-thinking jazz musicians Junius Paul (bass) and Ben LaMar Gay (cornet) will lead a workshop about Creative Music in Chicago, including the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Art Ensemble, featuring performances on the bass and cornet.




new-black-music-in-chicago-concert_2024_03_04-400px.pngLeon Forrest Panel and Concert

Mon., March 4, 2024
4:00 - 7:30pm
Galvin Recital Hall, Northwestern's Evanston campus

4:00 – 5:30pm
Panel discussion on the state of jazz in Chicago featuring award-winning artists Junius Paul (bass), Jeff Parker (guitar), Brandee Younger (harp), and Makaya McCraven (drums)
5:30 – 6:00 pm
6:00 – 7:30pm
Concert (free!) featuring Brandee Younger, Jeff Parker, Makaya McCraven, Junius Paul, and Greg Ward (sax), De'Sean Jones (sax), and Marquis Hill (trumpet)


Course description

This newly developed class offers students a hands-on experience learning from and working with a renowned group of jazz musicians who reflect the vibrant contributions of the city of Chicago to recent jazz music. In addition to in-person and zoom weekly visits by jazz musicians, artist and tour managers, record label owners, and jazz journalists and authors, students will experience workshops led by these artists. The class will culminate in a panel and free public concert featuring these artists that students will help host at the Galvin Recital Hall (capacity 400). This one-of-a-kind opportunity will give Northwestern students direct exposure to artists working at the highest level of artistry. We will learn how they develop their craft, navigate decisions about forming their businesses, and learn about the infrastructure of touring musicians from managers, agents, label owners, and the artists. Additionally, music journalists and authors will provide the historical context of this city’s impact on the development of jazz, locating recent developments within the city’s dynamic culture. The class includes readings and a discography selected by the artists and other invited speakers, whose selections may feature interviews, historical essays, websites, or listening to albums. Overall, students and invited speakers will be asked about the role Chicago plays in the development of their music and as home to some of the most innovative jazz artists for decades.

The Business and Finances of Touring Artists (LLC, S-Corporation); Infrastructure of a Touring Band (Management, Booking, Tour Agent, Publicist); Tour Life and Booking; Production and Composition; Signing to a Label; Work/Family Balance; Gender and Women in Jazz; Chicago’s Evolving Jazz Scene; Spirituality, Religion, and Music; Being a Professor and Touring Musician; Record Label Development and Label Owner/Booking Agent/Artist Relations; Health and Mental and Physical Wellness; Cross-Genre Production (Hip Hop, Classical/Orchestral, and Jazz).

Co-Sponsors of New Black Music in Chicago

This class and its accompanying events, public panel, and free concert have been made possible by the following co-sponsors: The Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and the Kaplan’s Inaugural Artist Engagement Initiative; The Black Arts Consortium; The Leon Forrest Lecture and Department of Black Studies; The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Academic Enrichment Grant; Office of the Provost N. W. Harris Fund; the Weinberg Office of the Dean; the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies.