Wendell Logan, 1940-2010. RIP
June 21, 2010 2:29 AM   Subscribe

Wendell Logan, founder of the Jazz Studies program at the Oberlin Conservatory, has passed away.

Although jazz had a history at Oberlin, it wasn't until 1989 that Jazz Studies became an official major, Logan having developed the curriculum for them.

Love Call

posted by bardophile (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Logan died Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic at age 69 after a brief illness. The cause has not been determined.

Hopefully it ended well.
posted by item at 2:47 AM on June 21, 2010

Always heard nice things about him from my friends in the profession. Seeing this quote in the obituary was nice:

"You never create anything without help. None of us is more important than the janitor."

Rare to find that view among accomplished artists or academics.

posted by fourcheesemac at 3:15 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wasn't sure how much to say in the actual post. Never met the man, but his influence was so obvious in the Conservatory. It was really pretty revolutionary to bring jazz into the hallowed halls of classical music. For the longest time, Oberlin students could actually be thrown out of practice rooms if they were playing jazz. And his students seemed to universally adore him.
posted by bardophile at 3:30 AM on June 21, 2010

I've never even visited Oberlin, but that doesn't quite describe my impression of the place over the last couple of decades. I've had lots of friends who went there, and even more students (including a couple of PhD advisees) who were there as music students (some conservatory, some college), and Oberlin is known as an early outpost of ethnomusicology (the legendary Rod Knight has trained generations of musicians in non-western musics, some of whom have gone on as ethnomusicologists themselves) and of open-mindedness toward African American musics (they have a long-time exchange program with Fisk's Jubilee Singers, for example).

I defer to your personal perspective as a former student, but it's not the view of Oberlin among faculty in other departments. It is surprising it took such a long time for jazz to become fully curricular there, but there has been (as you note in the FPP) jazz and improvised music on a remarkable level for a long time, just perhaps not in the practice rooms.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:44 AM on June 21, 2010

That odd tension is what makes the whole thing so interesting. On the one hand, you have Rod Knight's class (incredibly knowledgeable man, interesting to talk to, impressive musician, incredibly dull lecturer. And you have the overall forward-looking student and faculty body, interested in all sorts of experimental things. But treating jazz as on par with classical music is something a lot of people had a hard time with, even up to the 90s.
posted by bardophile at 6:13 AM on June 21, 2010

fourcheesemac: until very recently, when jazz studies got its own building, the department was housed in one of the former gyms on campus and wasn't physically near the conservatory.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:55 AM on June 21, 2010

My contact with Wendell Logan was through a fellow student named Rich who wanted to learn as part of a Winter Term Project. Wendell was his adviser (ultimately the reviewer of his work). At the end of the month, I helped Rich go from "never played; can't read music" to being able to play "'Round Midnight." (Rich's goal). Wendell was astonished. I was proud.
posted by plinth at 11:04 AM on June 21, 2010

What does physical proximity have to do with anything, mandyetc?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:40 AM on June 22, 2010

fourcheesemac, it's just that on a campus that you can walk across in 15 minutes, the Con and Hales Gym are 15 minutes apart. Pretty much everyone I knew saw that as representative of the relationship between jazz and "serious" music at the Con. Even though they mostly thought that Oberlin was better about this than "most conservatories."

Your impression, however, is not incorrect, either. It's kind of like the way most Americans I've met aren't racist, but America (like many other, if not all, countries) has a considerable amount of institutional racism.
posted by bardophile at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2010

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