It all adds up
Three is indeed a magic number.
For jazz artist Bob Dorough, it represents the number of decades it's been since he first introduced America to "Schoolhouse Rock."
His educational compositions that ran successfully from 1973 - '85 on ABC-TV were revived for five years in the 1990s and were recently released as a DVD set for its 30th anniversary.
Dorough is guest artist for the Pennsylvania Jazz Collective's third annual Jazz Series, Nov. 19 - 21, Moravian College, Bethlehem, for which the educational focus is "The Piano & the Rhythm Section."
Dorough's concert, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Foy Hall, includes many compositions penned by the pianist. Guests include the Jazz Collective's 2014 Artist of the Year Craig Kastelnik, as well as Skip Wilkins, Paul Rostock, Gary Rissmiller, Lou Lanza and Dave Roth.
Dorough performs with the Moravian College Big Band, under the direction of Dr. Neil Wetzel, and the college's Jazz Vocal Ensemble, led by Lou Lanza, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, Foy Hall.
Dorough is excited for the opportunity to play with Moravian's Big Band.
"It's always great to be around others who share my passion for jazz, and it's a great way to give back to the community, and to help inspire young people to pursue their goals," says Dorough in a phone interview.
Dorough and members of the Moravian Jazz Faculty will present "School House Rock" for area school students in Grades 4 - 8 at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 19 in Foy Hall.
Dorough and faculty members will present free rhythm section clinics and workshops for students, music educators and interested jazz musicians, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Nov. 20, Peter and Foy halls.
The clinics will feature Wilkins, Kastelnik, Rostock, Rissmiller and Pete Smyser. There will be an afternoon "meet & greet" with Dorough.
Dorough credits much of his success to those he surrounded himself with from an early age.
"Just hanging out in New York City jazz bars, I found myself meeting the right people," Dorough says.
The idea for "Schoolhouse Rock" came from a "socially-conscious" advertising agency with the goal to set the multiplication table to music. Dorough took to the opportunity like a multiplication Mozart and created an entire album based on the concept.
Dorough worked with many other jazz greats and animators as the TV show's success continued and his input was revered by those around him.
Blue Note Records approached Dorough in 1995 with an opportunity no one could decline. After signing with the prestigious label, Dorough was "highly-gratified" and humbly admits to enjoying "star treatment."
The Pocono Mountains resident has received the Governor's Artist of the Year Award. In 2002, his trio was chosen to represent the U.S. State Department and Kennedy Center as an Ambassador of Jazz and Blues. He has performed in many countries worldwide.
Dorough is happy to be back in his native state of Pennsylvania. "I've got plenty of good neighbors who are musicians as well. It gives me plenty to do. And, of course, there's no place like home."
"This Jazz Series was developed with the idea of changing the instrument of focus each year," says Pennsylvania Jazz Collective (PJC) Executive Board President Wayne Maura. "Our first Jazz Series in 2012 featured the trumpet; 2013, the saxophone, and this year's featured instrument, the piano. Next year, PJC will present the trombone."
The PJC is an arts organization dedicated to promoting America's indigenous art form, jazz. Through concerts, community-based initiatives and educational outreach programs, the performing arts organization showcases homegrown jazz artists in various settings and venues throughout the area.
The organization's over-arching goal: to raise the community's awareness of jazz as an art form. Another goal is to demonstrate the wealth of talented jazz musicians that are in the Lehigh Valley.
Support for the Jazz Series includes grants from Moravian College Arts & Lectures, Lehigh Valley Arts Council Project Stream- Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Dave Berger and Rose Day, Moravian College Music Department and Nazareth Music Company. WDIY Lehigh Valley Community Radio is media sponsor.
For information about the Jazz Series, clinics or to register, call Moravian's Rose Panik at 610-861-1650.