CULE Festivals and Guest Artist History: 1992-2000 (Dr. Karlton E. Hester, Director)


- BIOGRAPHIES: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Cecilia Smith, Pamela Wise,

4th Annual Cornell University "Jazz" Festival

1995 CU "Jazz" Festival Poster (spring)

April 28
- Guest Lecture: pianist / composer Toshiko Akiyoshi
2PM - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
- Concert: Guest Artist Toshiko Akiyoshi performs with the Cornell University Lab Ensembles.
Dr. Karlton E. Hester, director.
8:15PM - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.

April 29
- Clinic: Pianist / composer Pamela Wise
3 - 5PM - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
- Panel Discussion: pianist/composer Pamela Wise and vibraphonist Cecilia Smith.
5:30 - 6:30PM - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.

April 30
- Concert: Hesterian Musicism and the Pamela Wise Quintet
8:15PM - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.


Toshiko Akiyoshi

AKIYOSHI, Toshiko, piano, bandleader, composer; b. Manchuria; Toshiko has performed in the US since the 1960s. Her quartet played at the World Expo in Japan in 1970. She formed her current organization, the Akiyoshi-Tabackin big band on the West Coast, which has won Down Beat readers polls since the 1970s.

(Source - Hester, Karlton E.: From Africa to Afrocentric Innovations Some Call "Jazz" - Vol. 4. Ithaca, NY: Hesteria Records & Publishing Co., 2000)

Cecilia Smith

Born in Cincinnati and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Cecilia Smith began her musical odyssey at age eight when she began piano lessons.  By age twelve, she had added drums to her repertoire and by age fourteen, she was on to mallet percussion. In her early teens, Cecilia’s studied with graduate students at the Cleveland Music Institute in music theory and she soon knew music would be her life’s quest.

Upon graduating from high school, Cecilia attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. While at Berklee, her pursuit of knowledge only increased as she studied a wide range of subjects including composing, arranging, film scoring and her instrument of choice, the vibraphone. These components and a wide range of professional experience have enhanced her expertise in a variety of musical styles.  Smith earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Professional Music from Berklee and continued there in a teaching capacity for four years before moving to New York City.

As a professional composer and recording artist, Cecilia Smith has been granted a number of commissions and grants for her composing abilities.  She is currently one of the leading vibraphonist of the Four-Mallet Technique, in the United States. Smith is also the first woman to release material on vibraphone on a national and international level.  She has performed in concert halls, nightclubs and festivals throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia and frequently has been highlighted as a performer on national radio and television broadcasts.

" . . . A young player who knows the instruments giants. Bright and driving like Hutcherson; Hymn like dignity like Jackson; and an air like bounce like Burton."

". . . An inventive Composer that possesses a knack for Mood and Texture."

Pamela Wise

Pamela Wise began composing music and playing the piano by ear at the age of 5. Her father Robert C. Wise who was a bassist decided to start her on piano lessons when she was nine. After studying the piano basics, Pamela began playing for her church choir which was directed by her father. "I was born and grew up in a small steel mill and mining town (Steubenville, OH) which didn't have anyjazz radio stations or anything. All of the music I heard were from a few records that my parents owned by Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and Ramsey Lewis. My older brother Craig who was away at college would bring record albums home by Leon Thomas, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver and Freddie Hubbard. Although 1 did not have the musical skills to play jazz, I kept listening. By the time I had the skills to learn, most of the musicians that my father played with passed on and there were no jazz teachers or jazz musicians left in Steubenville."

While in high school, Pamela formed her own R&B group called the Ohio Movement which performed throughout the Midwest and East Coast. After 8 years with the Ohio Movement, Pamela decided to leave the band. "I always wanted to be a jazz composer and pianist, it was definitely in my blood after growing up listening to it." When her brother Craig finished college and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1978 he encouraged Pamela to move with him and she did. While in Cleveland, Pamela attended Cuyahoga Community College and further studied music. "Shortly after Craig received an employment opportunity from a prominent bank in Detroit, MI and we moved to Detroit in December 1979. I worked with several R&B groups in the Detroit area, but I still wanted to play jazz."

Pamela bumped into Wendell Harrison (who later became her husband) in a recording studio while taping some of her compositions. Wendell became interested in her music and started featuring her compositions on his recordings as well as featuring her in his ensembles. Pamela was blessed with the opportunity to be performing and composing for artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Leon Thomas and Eddie Harris (to name a few). "These artists and many Detroit world renowned jazz greats such as Wendell Harrison, Harold McKinney, Teddy Harris, Marcus Belgrave provided me with the foundation and learning tools for jazz and I still seek their advice."

"In 1989 while teaching a Summer Youth Arts Program in Detroit I met a young man Andrew Daniels who was playing percussion in the Youth Ensemble. Andrew pointed out to me that my compositions and piano stylings sounded very much Like the Afro Cuban music he was studying. A long time friend and colleague, Francisco Mora, provided me with references and resources on Afro Cuban music." It was at this time, Pamela started forming her own ensemble with saxophonist James Carter, trumpeter Dwight Adams, bassist Jaribu Shahid, drummer Ali Muhammad and percussionist Andrew Daniels. "We performed in many Detroit local clubs for about three years and soon after James landed a contract with Atlantic Records, Ali Muhammad went to college in New York." Then Pamela received two Creative Artist Grant award from the Arts Foundation of Michigan, one in 1993, and one in 1997, to write fourteen(l4) compositions demonstrating the link between Afro Cuban andjazz music. In addition, she was still performing with her ensemble and freelancing with other groups such as drummer Gayelynn McKinney & the McKinney Zone and Straight Ahead. One of her most favorite freelance projects was co-writing the title track on violinist Regina Carter's CD I Wanna Talk To You. "Regina and I have always had fun performing together and just being friends. You are very likely to find us cooking up a big Sunday dinner at home for our friends".

In 1994, Wendell Harrison introduced Pamela to world renowned percussionist Jerry Gonzalez and produced her first compact disc Songo Festividad. "Jerry Gonzalez was a major influence in developing my knowledge of Afro Cuban rhythms and turning me on to a lot of the history. Through Jerry I began featuring other great masters in my group such as drummer Steve Benios, bassist Andy Gonzalez, vocalist Adela Dalto, and percussionist Milton Cardona". Pamela continues to expand on both styles of music. "Afro Cuban and jazz are both very much a part of me. It is such a pleasure to perform with great masters who know both worlds. The dave is very prominent in urban black contemporary music, hip hop andjazz. I hope I can contribute something that will keep jazz and the rhythms of the Black Caribbean everlasting."

CULE "Jazz" Workshop Poster (December 1995) 

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Compiled: September 2001
Last Update: 08/22/2002

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