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


- BIOGRAPHIES: Akua Dixon, Samite Mulondo, Charles Tolliver, Steve Turre
- ARTICLES: Cornell Chronicle - 04-24-1997

6th Annual Cornell University "Jazz" Festival

1997 CU "Jazz" Festival Poster (spring)

April 26
- Concert: Guest Artist Steve Turre performs with the Cornell University Lab Ensembles
Dr. Karlton E. Hester, director.
8:15PM - Statler Auditorium, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.

April 27
- Concert: Hesterian Musicism with featured guest artists Akua  Dixon (cello), Samite of Uganda, Charles Tolliver (trumpet),  and the Uhuru Kuumba Dance Company
8:15 - Barnes Hall, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.


Akua Dixon

A native of New York City, cellist-composer-conductor Akua Dixon is a graduate of the famed High School of the Performing Arts where she studied cello with Benar Heifetz.  She performs nationally and internationally at concert halls, colleges, and jazz festivals.  Among the many noted artists with which she has performed are Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Eubie Blake, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, the Temptations, and Sammy Davis, Jr. She is assistant-principal cellist of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Orchestra.  In 1973 Akua Dixon founded her own string quartet, Quartette Indigo, whose repertoire includes original works and her arrangements of jazz classics.  Featured in concert at the Berlin Jazz Festival and the Kool Jazz Festival, the quartet's release on Landmark records received four stars from Downbeat.  Akua Dixon has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute and won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Meet The Composer for her compositions.

Samite Mulondo

Samite was born and raised in Uganda, where his grandfather taught him to play the traditional flute. His primary schooling was within the King's Courtyard where the royal musicians played for the King. That daily influence permanently instilled within the young boy the rhythms and patterns of the traditional music of his people - the Baganda. Recognizing his talents, a teacher at his high school in Kampala put a western flute in his hands and helped him to become one of the most highly acclaimed flutists in East Africa.

In 1982 he fled to Kenya as a political refugee, where he played with the Bacchus Club Jazz Band and the popular African Heritage Band. Increasingly drawn to instruments and rhythms from the traditional Ugandan music scene, he eventually played solo at the Mount Kenya Safari Club in Nairobi. Delivering his mellifluous vocals in his mother tongue, Luganda, he mesmerized audiences with original compositions played on kalimba (finger-piano), marimba (wooden xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan instrument) and various flutes - traditional and western.

Emigrating to the United States in 1987, Samite now makes his home in Ithaca, New York where he recorded his first tour-de-force Shanachie release Abaana Bakesa (Dance My Children, Dance). His second release, Pearl of Africa Reborn, contains new recordings which retain the essence of African tradition. Both albums relate images conjured while dreaming, and folk tales and stories passed on to him by his grandfather. Samite’s third US album Silina Musango, released by Xenophile, is a joyful collection of melodic, trans-cultural songs, featuring kalimba melodies, which are the heartbeat of Samite’s music. This CD reached #2 on the CMJ World Music Chart in the summer of 1997.

As a new Windham Hill artist, Samite is currently working on a fourth album to be released by year’s end. He is also featured on two recent Windham Hill releases: Will Ackerman’s Sound of Wind Driven Rain and Summer Solstice II. He also worked with Narada Artist John Whelan on his recent release, Flirting with the Edge. Samite spent last summer traveling through parts of Africa filming a PBS documentary, “Song of the Refugee”. It was inspired by a desire to present African refugees' hope for the future in spite of the suffering and loss they have endured. Media coverage during the darkest days of crisis concentrated on violence and destruction, with little or no coverage of the reconciliation and healing process now underway. “Song of the Refugee” also captures Samite’s first visit to Uganda since he fled in 1982. For the past ten years, Samite has made his living as Uganda's unofficial music ambassador to the USA. One of his goals is to open peoples' minds and hearts to the common threads of human concerns, conveying optimism through stories and song. "I am convinced that we are all moved by the same desires, needs and emotions, regardless of the language in which those feelings are expressed," says Samite. Recent appearances include headlining UNICEF's Day of the African Child in NYC; Woodstock '94 on Peter Gabriel's WOMAD Stage; the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and tours in Japan, Australia, and Germany.

Charles Tolliver

Charles Tolliver's musical path began when Lela, his grandmother, gave the eight year old boy a cornet and inspired him to learn. Since that time, he has become a remarkable trumpetist, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator. His professional musicianship began after a few years of studying pharmacy at Howard University while at the same time pursuing his path in music on an entirely self-taught basis.

Charles started playing with saxophonist Jackie McLean, and made his debut album with him in 1964. He has since performed with such acclaimed artists such as Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Oliver Nelson, Roy Ayers, Art Blakey and the JAzz Messengers,  and Max Roach. His quartet Music Inc.(link?) has toured in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan and become internationally renowned through performing at festivals, concerts, radio and television stations.

Critics note Tolliver for his fine sense of tradition and swing, as well as his innovative approach and individual sound. His playing projects melodic fluidity, warmth and flexibility. Compositionally he is remarked for his inventiveness and skillful writing ability. Albums under his name include "Music Inc. and Big Band" (Strata-East CD9010), "Impact" (Strata-East CD9001), "Compassion" (Strata-East CD9011), "Live at Historic Slugs Vol.1 & Vol.2" (Strata East CD 9016) and "The Ringer" (Black Lion CD760174) amongst many others under his name as well as with other renowned artists.

"Tolliver's horn style is possessed of a melodic warmth and compactness of expression shared by few other trumpeters"
Ray Townley / DOWNBEAT

"The trumpet is a brass instrument that leans toward hard sound and staccato phrasing. Yet Tolliver is the quintessence of fluidity.... a trumpeter of such flow, tone, control, lyrisicm and creativity is, by definition, a major musician."
Micheal Cuscuna

"Charles Tolliver - I like him"
Dizzy Gillespie (when asked by DOWNBEAT which of today's trumpet players he likes.)

Steve Turre

TURRE, Steve, trombone, composer. Art Blakey brought Turre from San Francisco to New York in 1973 as a Jazz Messenger. Since then he has performed and recorded with numerous others and has led his own experimental ensembles. He has been recognized as one of the most imaginative and gifted trombonists of his generation. He has expressed his virtuosity as a trombonist in both traditional and avant-garde idioms and has composed music in fresh new ways.

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


Cornell Chronicle - 04/24/1997

Musicians will jam at 6th annual Cornell Jazz Festival this weekend

By Darryl Geddes

Hot jazz to warm up a cool spring.

The sixth annual Cornell Jazz Festival, featuring special guest artists Steve Turre and Akua Dixon, will take place in three
locations this weekend.

The festival gets under way Friday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in Barnes Hall with a performance by three Cornell jazz ensembles -- the Serious Vanguard Ensemble, the 7 PM Rehearsal Ensemble and Jazz 239 -- and the Ithaca College Jazz Combo. The performance is free and open to the public. Then, at 10 p.m., the ensembles will move from Barnes Hall to Collegetown Bagels on College Avenue and have a "jam session," open to all interested jazz musicians.

Turre will appear in concert with the Cornell University Lab Ensembles on Saturday, April 26, at 8:15 p.m. in Statler Auditorium. Turre began his music career playing the trombone in his grammar school band in Lafayette, Calif. He was playing professionally by age 13 in jazz clubs around the San Francisco Bay area. He has toured with Ray Charles and was recruited by drummer Art Blakey for his influential group the Jazz Messengers. Turre has performed with other jazz giants, including Woody Shaw, McCoy Tyner, Lester Bowie and Dizzy Gillespie. He is a fan favorite, having placed first in readers' polls in the jazz publications Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazztimes. As a composer, Turre has written for Ray Charles, Max Roach, Slide Hampton, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Gillespie and Tyner.

Advance sale tickets for Turre's performance are $6; $4 for students and are available at Willard Straight Hall ticket office and Rebop Records, 409 College Ave. Tickets at the door are $7; $5 for students.

The festival closes with the "Hesterian Musicism," with Karlton Hester and friends, Sunday, April 27, at 8:15 p.m. Hesterian Musicism is a term coined by Hester -- the Herbert Gussman Director of Jazz Studies at Cornell and the driving force behind the Cornell Jazz Festival -- to represent the creative process by which musicians, visual artists and poets, through the merging of composition and performance, produce new art forms.

Headlining Sunday's performance is Akua Dixon, a New York City native and graduate of the High School of the Performing Arts, where she studied cello with Benar Heifetz. She has performed with Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Betty Carter, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross and is the assistant principal cellist with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Orchestra. Dixon's own string quartet, Quartette Indigo, has performed at the Berlin and Kool jazz festivals.

Participants in the Hesterian Musicism also will include Hester (flute, sax), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Phil Bowler (bass), Samite (vocals, flute, sax), Sera Smolen (cello), Bill Johnson (trumpet), Edward Smith (percussion) and others. New compositions by Hester also will be performed, and the Uhuru Kuumba Dance Company will appear.

Tickets for the Hesterian Musicism are $3, $2 for students, and are only available at the door.

Turre and Dixon's appearances are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Chase Manhattan Bank and the New York State Council on the Arts. Financial assistance also has been provided by the Student Assembly Finance Commission.

Back to Top

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

This page is maintained by Alissa J. Roedig.
Please direct comments, questions, or problems with using this site to the Webmaster.