NATHAN DAVIS (Photo Credit: CIDDE)
by Sharon S. Blake
(This article was reprinted from the May 28, 2013, issue of the Pitt Chronicle.)
University of Pittsburgh Professor of Music Nathan Davis, founder and director of the Pitt Jazz Studies Program and the long-running annual Pitt Jazz Seminar and Concert, is retiring from the University effective June 28, 2013, it has been announced by N. John Cooper, the Bettye J. and Ralph E. Baily Dean of Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
Davis, 76, leaves a legacy of establishing a curriculum-based jazz studies program at a major university. He founded the Pitt Jazz Studies Program in 1969, when only two others existed in this country—one at Howard University established by Donald Byrd and the program at Indiana University at Bloomington set up by David Baker.
Davis is credited with infusing the Pitt community and the Pittsburgh region as a whole with jazz education, performance, inspiration, and appreciation during his 43-year Pitt career.
“Nathan has been both an institution and an institution builder,” said Cooper. “Our jazz program is unique in the balance it achieves between teaching, facilitating, and sharing with the public the very best of jazz—nationally, internationally, and from within our own student body, while at the same time making jazz a core element of the University’s music curriculum for our students, from Nathan’s beloved History of Jazz course to the heights of our doctoral program.”
Upon Davis’ retirement, Cooper will nominate him for the rank of Professor Emeritus. On Oct. 5, 2013, Davis will be honored with the BNY Mellon Jazz 2013 Living Legacy Award in a special ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The award is a program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.