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WVU Jazz Ensembles incorporate Campus Read into concert March 20

Jared Sims leads Jazz Ensemble

The jazz program at West Virginia University will feature music related to Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” in their upcoming concert at 7:30 p.m. March 20 at the Creative Arts Center.

“Just Mercy” was selected as WVU’s 2016-2017 Campus Read and explores the moral implications of the American justice system. According to Jared Sims, director of jazz studies in WVU’s School of Music, jazz is well-suited to the book’s themes.

“Many musicians throughout the history of jazz have dealt with an unjust legal system and much of the book depicts these struggles, particularly for African-Americans,” Sims said. “Notable jazz icons Miles Davis and Bud Powell were both victims of police brutality so there’s a natural fit between the book and music.”

The concert will feature multiple small ensembles and a large big band. Each group will play pieces by composer Charles Mingus, who was known for illustrating struggles for equality through his music.

“Fables of Faubus” by Mingus will be one of the highlights of the evening’s program. The composition sarcastically depicts Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, who ignored the United States Supreme Court’s decision to integrate the public-school system when he ordered the National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine from entering their desegregated school.

“Charles Mingus is one of the most prolific and celebrated composers of all of jazz music,” Sims said. “His pieces we will perform show the anger, frustration, triumph and elation felt by those fighting for equality.”

The “Mingus Sound" includes shades of gospel, bebop, free jazz, classical music and blues, providing a concert experience for any taste.

The concert will be held in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre. WVU students receive free admission with their student IDs and general audience tickets can be purchased by calling 304-293-SHOW or visiting