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Director of Bands Transcribes and Arranges Song by Grammy-winning Jazz Musician

wade baker photoThe Greenville Jazz Collective commissioned Olney Central College Director of Bands Wade Baker to transcribe and arrange a piece of music by the legendary trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

The work was featured along with two of Baker’s original compositions, Fall in Greenville and Mind’s Eye, which he arranged for the ensemble’s Composer’s Concert last month.

Based in South Carolina, the Greenville Jazz Collective is a non-profit organization comprised of respected jazz musicians from the area including faculty members from Clemson University, the University of South Carolina Upstate, Furman University and Anderson University.

The group is dedicated to promoting and creating awareness for jazz with members performing in a Big Band and a number of other ensembles.

Baker, who regularly performed in Greenville, said a friend in the organization approached him about preparing Hargrove’s unnotated piece, From the Top of My Head, as a tribute to Hargrove, who had ties to the area. The two-time Grammy winner had yet to record the work when he passed away on Nov. 2 at age 49.

“I have transcribed many of Roy’s works and each one is near to my heart,” Baker said. “Roy Hargrove is my single largest musical influence and being able to study his compositional style and techniques through his career has been invaluable in my own growth and development as a musician. From the Top of My Head is special to me because it’s a true representation of where Roy was taking his music before he fell ill and passed away. Roy Hargrove, to me, was the embodiment of jazz. I only hope to be able to one day make a fraction of the impact he had on furthering jazz music’s evolution.”  

Baker added, “I haven’t seen video from the concert, but I’m told it went really well.”

Baker enjoys writing original pieces and has composed numerous works ranging from Concert and Big Band selections to jazz quartet with strings.

“It’s a way I get to really and truly be creative,” he said. “Writing for other people, I don’t have to limit my imagination to what I’m physically capable of doing. I’ve always liked writing as much as playing.”

Baker has students at OCC who are writing their own music. He enjoys working with the students as they bring the compositions to life. It’s an opportunity few students get to experience at a community college.

“We are a small, but growing program,” Baker said. “There are a few students who are serious about working as musicians and I want to share with them my experience and knowledge and teach them what I did to survive in the music industry.”

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