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Flying High With an Orchestra at USC


Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, one of the leading figures on the modern jazz scene, and pianist Sergio Salvatore, the 13-year-old wunderkind, arrive in town next week in unusual circumstances: Instead of being featured in a small group context, the artists appear with the 75-piece American Jazz Philharmonic.

The free program, which takes place Tuesday at 8 p.m. at USC's Bovard Auditorium, finds Redman employing his gusty tenor tone on John Clayton's "Three Shades of Blue." Salvatore, whose second GRP release, "Tune Up," came out earlier this year, tackles Dave Grusin's "Summer Sketches."

"Since I haven't played with an orchestra since I was in the 5th grade, this should be fun. I always look forward to the challenge of new experiences," said Redman, reached at his hotel in Atlanta, Ga., where he debuted Clayton's work--commissioned by the Los Angeles-based orchestra--on Wednesday.

"This is a nice change, since you don't find a lot of classical-jazz mixing stuff performed live," said Salvatore, who first performed the Grusin work with the orchestra at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 12.

Jack Elliott, who conducts the orchestra, formerly known as the New American Orchestra, described Clayton's work as having "Echoes of Ellington, in that it continues in the tradition of what Ellington did for larger orchestras." The Grusin work, written by the pianist for a Japanese tour a few years ago, is "very rhythmic and very contemporary," said Elliott.

Salvatore's performance at BAM in October thrilled Elliott. "When he arrived at rehearsal," he said, "he had the piece memorized, and he even added something, a perfect intro" that the pianist had improvised. "I thought it needed something to set the mood for the rest of the piece," Salvatore said.

The Bovard concert is part of the American Express Gold Card Grammy Festival '94, which is spotlighting the orchestra, Redman, Salvatore and Wallace Roney among others in 11 concerts in five cities. Besides New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles, programs will be offered in Nashville and Honolulu. Elliott estimated that the free concerts will draw more than 15,000 people by tour's end.

The traveling festival is also underwritten by the Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Fund, AT&T and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Science's education foundation.

The absence of an admission price pleases Redman. "It's a chance to expose the music to people who wouldn't otherwise hear it," he says. "Hopefully, there'll be some newcomers, and we'll make some converts."

Redman and Salvatore teach master classes on Tuesday at 3 p.m., following the students-only concert at Bovard at 10 a.m. The 8 p.m. concert at Bovard, which holds 1,500, is first-come, first-seated.

Information: (213) 740-3233.


Remembering Feather: The Leonard Feather Memorial Celebration will be held Monday at 8 p.m. at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA. Seating is limited. Parking is $5.

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