Grammy®-nominated Marcus Strickland joins Frost

Grammy®-nominated Marcus Strickland joins Frost

By UM News

Grammy®-nominated Marcus Strickland joins Frost

By UM News
The Frost School of Music at the University of Miami is pleased to announce Marcus Strickland, one of the leading saxophonists of his generation has joined the faculty as Associate Professor of Practice, Department of Studio Music and Jazz.

Strickland will be filling the spot vacated by one of the legendary members of the faculty Gary Keller, who retired this past May. In making the announcement Dean Shelly Berg commented: "There is a symbolism in the fact that Marcus took his first saxophone lessons from Professor Keller." Marcus added, "I, along with generations of teeming saxophonists, took private instruction from both Gary Keller and Whit Sidener who both built the amazing Frost School of Music program."

Marcus Strickland is a charter member of the 21st-century jazz vanguard. Similar to the torrent of artists that appeared on the jazz landscape in the early ’80s to pull jazz out of the grasp of the Fusion Era, Strickland, his identical twin brother E.J. Strickland (drummer), and artists such as Jeremy Pelt and Robert Glasper breathed new life into jazz early in the new millennium. During a five-year stint with venerable drummer Roy Haynes, Strickland released two albums on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. At Last was released in 2001, followed by Brotherhood in 2003. Both albums featured precocious peers (Pelt, Glasper, bassist Brandon Owens) playing lyrical, fiery, contemporary jazz.

For the next three years, Strickland toured with artists such as Jeff “Tain” Watts and Haynes and Dave Douglass, while also holding down dates with his own band. In 2006, he independently released Twi-Life, an adventurous double-album on his own label, Strick Muzik. The album received much critical praise and proclaimed him “Best New Artist” in the JazzTimes Readers’ Poll. In 2007, the Twi-Life Group released a live album entitled Open Reel Deck on Strick Muzik. The album featured Lage Lund on guitar, Carlos Henderson on electric bass, and E.J. Strickland on drums, as well as trumpeter Keyon Harrold, the hip-hop-tinged poetry of Malachi, and one track with pianist Jon Cowherd. The album displayed the curious side of Strickland’s compositional skills through funk, hip-hop, Afro-beat, rock, ska, and jungle grooves.

Strickland was voted “Rising Star, Soprano Saxophone” in Downbeat Magazine’s 2008 Critic’s Poll. He released two albums in 2009 — Of Song on the Criss Cross label and Idiosyncrasies on his label under the new name of SMK. Of Song, with brother E.J., Ben Williams, and David Bryant was a more straight-ahead set, whereas Idiosyncrasies featured Strickland’s increasingly daring compositions. Throughout his career, Strickland has worked with a variety of artists, including Mos Def, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, and the Charles Tolliver Big Band, Tom Harrell, among others. ~ Vincent Thomas

His latest project is EXCHANGE VILLAGE: A holistic approach to Black Music with pure freedom and creativity in an all-inclusive cross-media exchange of knowledge through workshops and performances. A solo and collaborative journey dissolving perceived genre and technology lines.

'I will still tour seasonally, and even more frequently make recordings; a process I would like to share with the students as well,” states Marcus. "For this is the lifeline of the art form and what I feel is the main reason I’ve been ordained for this position."