In Response to: A New Direction [6]

As a co-founder and the first President of the Princeton University Jazz Ensemble, I’m excited to read about Mr. Mahanthappa’s arrival on the Jazz scene at Princeton and very interested to see and hear how the program develops within his stated philosophy.

As for Mr. Branker, it’s clear that the Princeton jazz community owes him a great deal for his steadfast leadership over the years; if I had one wish, it would be that he had formed closer bonds during his tenure with those former students, including many of my life-long friends, who brought big-band jazz back to Princeton after a lengthy hiatus in the form of the Jazz Ensemble in 1974.

Over the years, it often seemed to us that he wanted to distance what the Jazz Ensemble became from its beginnings. Even his closing quote in the PAW article about “developing” a jazz program in 1989 based on a dream he had during his undergraduate days seems a bit disingenuous to me: Perhaps he had that dream while he was sitting in rehearsal as a member of the Jazz Ensemble in 1979?

Here’s hoping for closer bonds between Mr. Mahanthappa, and the future of Princeton Jazz, and its past.