History of the Penn State Jazz Club

The club was founded in 1954, and we are researching all the concerts that have taken place. We have heard about several before our time including Dave Brubeck (first concert in ’54), recorded on vinyl. A jazz DJ from San Francisco called us looking for it recently - so now we’re looking for it too.

Both Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald performed in Schwab Auditorium in the 60’s. The University Concert Committee was a spin-off the Jazz Club that broke away so they could bring in high budget performers and sell tickets - something the Jazz Club has never done.

Since 1984, the Jazz Club has brought the following artists to Penn State:
Bill Lee, Joey deFrancesco, Rufus Reid, Tim Warfield, Carl Allen, Greg Osby, Jerry Eastman, Joe Ford, Randy Weston, George Braith, John Patton, Sonny Simmons, Charles Fambrough, Larry Goldings, T.S. Monk 10-tet with Neena Freelon, Cindy Blackman, Robin Eubanks, Kevin Eubanks, Web Thomas, Either Orchestra, Widespread Jazz Orchestra, Charles McPherson, Hamiett Bluiett, Lou Donalson w/ Lonnie Smith, Jeremy Bacon, Lou Marini, Chris Potter, Jimmy Ponder, Bobby Watson, Talib Kibwe, Patricia Barber, John Scofield, James Blood Ulmer, Steve Smith (twice – once with Vital Information featuring Frank Gambale and Tom Coster), Melvin Sparks, Billy Harper, Archie Shepp w/ Amiri Baraka, Ronnie Burrage, Charlie Hunter, Odean Pope saxophone choir, Sandip Burman, Roger Humphries Big Band, Sonny Fortune, McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, James Blood Ulmer, John Blake, Steve Rudolph, Tim Hagans.

Rick Mayhew - late 70’s - early 80’s. Artist, advocate for bands and entertainer. He used to perform stand up at Charlie Parker’s set breaks at Birdland, and later was one of the first agents to book African American Jazz groups at predominantly White Universities. He became a Professor of Fine Arts at Penn State. Current advisor Byrne was an undergrad member during this period.

Julian Thayer - late 80’s. Psychology professor and bassist with John Hicks at Bradley’s in Manhattan. Among other things, he studied the effects of listening to John Coltrane on subjects' brainwaves.

Chris Byrne - 1989 to present. Mathematician, saxophonist and composer. He studied music with Jaki Byard. He performs weekly in State College and occasionally in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, New Orleans and Chicago.

Past officers:
Craig Ashford, Chip Finney, Gary Kennedy, Andrew Jackson, John Boykin, Marita Magda, Matt Bugay, Akshay Shawnee, Nick Shortway, Mike Dougherty, Adrienn Byrne, Noah Figlin, George Malek.