Lytle Scholarship Concert Presents ‘Jazz Piano Summit’
22nd annual concert raises money for undergraduate scholarships
Four grand pianos. Four jazz pianists who have performed with the likes of Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. The University of California San Diego’s 22nd Annual Lytle Scholarship Concert will feature a unique solo improvisation set from visionary musicians Cecil Lytle, Kei Akagi, Mike Wofford and Asher Tobin Chodos, capped off by a show-stopping finale that merges the talents of all four performers. The campus and local community are invited to the concert, entitled “Jazz Piano Summit,” on Sunday, Jan. 28. All proceeds will benefit undergraduate scholarships at UC San Diego.
“We are doing something new at this year’s Lytle Concert—four pianos on stage, played by an assemblage of musicians who each shine on their own but together will be surely remarkable,” said Cecil Lytle, Department of Music professor emeritus, who started the annual concert more than two decades ago. “The concert will feature jazz compositions by icons like Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Clark.”
For more than two decades, the concert has helped raise funds for graduates of The Preuss School UCSD who are attending Thurgood Marshall College at UC San Diego. Founded in 1999, The Preuss School is a unique public charter middle and high school for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college.
As former provost of UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College and a founder of The Preuss School, Lytle started the concert in 1995 to raise funds for undergraduate student scholarships. The support has helped students like junior Samar Mashni, who is studying chemistry and ethnic studies with a goal of pursuing a career in environmental safety.
“With the Lytle Scholarship, I was able to take the summer classes I needed for staying on track with my major,” said Mashni. “I wouldn't be able to do that otherwise, considering I am a low-income student.”
Each of this year’s performers brings their own vision, training and talents to the concert. Pianist and composer Kei Akagi has been a mainstay of the international jazz world for more than two decades. He has toured with major jazz figures such as Miles Davis, Joe Farrell and Stanley Turrentine. As a solo artist, Akagi has recorded over a dozen solo albums; he has also been an accompanist and sideman for over 40 albums worldwide. Akagi founded the jazz program at UC Irvine and teaches jazz history, theory, composition and ensemble.
Also deeply entrenched and renowned in the jazz world, Mike Wofford began studying piano at age 7 and joined the Los Angeles jazz scene in the 1960s. His versatile background includes accompanying Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn; playing in the studio with Oliver Nelson and John Lennon; and recording with bassist Lisle Ellis alongside free-jazz legends Oliver Lake and George Lewis. Appearing on over a hundred recordings as a sideman, Wofford continues to be one of the most in-demand jazz pianists.
Two of this year’s performers are part of the UC San Diego academic community. Asher Tobin Chodos is a doctoral candidate in the UC San Diego Department of Music, where he is writing a dissertation about automated music recommendation. He holds a degree in classical languages and literature from Columbia University, and has been named a fellow of the Dave Brubeck Institute, the Asian Cultural Council and the Ucross Foundation. His practice combines composition, performance and music scholarship.
Internationally renowned pianist and concert creator Cecil Lytle will also perform. A classical pianist, he is an expert in the performance of 19th and early-20th-century music. Over a span of three decades, Lytle taught music at UC San Diego, served as chair of the department of music and helped shape UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College as provost for 17 years. In addition, he has led a career as a recording artist and performer on television and radio; in 1996, his public television series, The Nature of Genius, was nominated for an Emmy award.