Jazz guitarist Jake Hertzog gathers top jazz, classical musicians for concerto’s debut

Jazz guitarist Jake Hertzog gathers top jazz, classical musicians for concerto’s debut

Jake Hertzog tried to capture the “poetry of the human experience” for his latest guitar concerto, so naturally he needed a lot of great musicians.

For the premiere of “Anthropoesia: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar and Jazz Philharmonic,” the jazz guitarist and professor of guitar at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville will be accompanied by the newly formed Ozark Jazz Philharmonic — a group of 23 of the region’s best jazz and classical musicians. The free performance begins at 7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center on the UA campus.

The title of the music alludes to the “the universal joy, sadness, grandiosity and intimate madness of a person’s inner emotional life,” Hertzog says, and the music includes a blend of jazz, rock and classical influences. It adds to his portfolio of work that has spanned jazz, rock, contemporary classical and avant garde.

He relied on fellow jazz faculty member Susumu Watanabe to help him bring together the diverse mix of sounds for “Anthropoesia.”

“Susumu was the main artistic collaborator on this project. He arranged and orchestrated the music, and conducted the ensemble, both live and in the studio. I wanted him to be involved because we have a great deal of both shared and wildly different influences,” Hertzog says. “He is an extraordinarily talented musician, and one of the few conductors fluent in both jazz and classical idioms. His rich techniques of orchestration and broad knowledge of musical traditions allowed him to really understand the vision for this work.”

The April 16 performance marks the conclusion of Hertzog’s Jazz Road Creative Residency — a grant program from South Arts, a nonprofit nonprofit regional arts organization headquartered in Atlanta — that also included a recording of this same work to be released in 2025.

“In addition to learning a lot about orchestration and arranging, I love the process of searching for my own personal idea of how my guitar playing can be surrounded by a large ensemble,” Hertzog says, adding that the work does allow the ensemble to shine.

“As a performer, trying new situations is always an extremely exciting and enriching experience, and the challenge of delivering this music was absolutely part of the joy in this project.”

Hertzog says that he hopes to have a chance to take the project to other venues and areas of the world after the April 16 performance, part of the 2024 UARK Jazz Festival sponsored by the UA Department of Music.

In the meantime, Hertzog will continue a study with fellow professor Justin R. Hunter on the importance of collegiate jazz programs to the jazz ecosystems in Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; and Atlanta. He’s also working on an album project with Artists 360 where he will reimagine Ozark folk music in jazz styles.

If that’s not enough, he’s also dreaming up a new jazz quartet with his New York group and looking forward to welcoming the second cohort of master’s level students in Black Sacred Music this summer at the Arkansas Center for Black Music, where he serves as associate director. Keep up with Hertzog at www.jakehertzog.com.



Anthropoesia: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar and Jazz Philharmonic

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. April 16

WHERE — Faulkner Performing Arts Center

COST — Free; register on the Faulkner Performing Arts Center website.

INFO — faulkner.uark.edu



Ozark Jazz Philharmonic

Meet the members:

Rhythm Section: Claudia Burson, Garrett Jones, Chris Peters, Jake Hertzog, Tomoko Kashiwagi

Trumpets: Rich Rulli, Cameron Summers, Ben Hay, Bill Gable

Trombones: Cory Mixdorf, Shea Pierce, Michael Olefsky, Jason Hausback

Saxophones: Rick Salonen, Michael Hanna, Alisha Pattillo, Sarah Hetrick, Austin Farnam

Strings: Er-Gene Kahng, Dayton Strick, Tim Macduff, Pecos Singer

Categories: Music