New Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers Jazz Ensemble’s highly anticipated annual “Prof” Fielder Memorial Concert is scheduled for October 27th at 7:30 PM at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Directed by the renowned Conrad Herwig, this performance is a moving tribute to the enduring legacy of Professor William “Prof” Fielder and will feature a special guest artist and alumnus, Terell Stafford.
Each season, the premier 22-piece student jazz orchestra from the Mason Gross School of the Arts opens their program with this concert, honoring the late trumpet master and legendary educator, Prof Fielder.
Terell Stafford, a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, composer, arranger, and educator, shares a unique and heartfelt connection with Fielder. Stafford attributes his introduction to “Prof” to the legendary trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Stafford recounts his journey, saying, “I had quit playing the trumpet because, after I finished my undergraduate degree, I became a computer programmer. I tutored in trigonometry, and some friends of mine got me to go out and hear Wynton Marsalis, who was performing with the Eastman Wind Ensemble in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center.”
Stafford was deeply moved by the performances that night. He recalls, “Two things struck me. The principal trumpeter of the Wind Ensemble had a really beautiful and gorgeous sound. Then Wynton came out, and he just knocked it out of the park.”
Stafford’s pivotal moment came when he went backstage to meet Wynton Marsalis. He describes the encounter: “He shook my hand and asked me if I played trumpet. I said ‘kind of,’ and Wynton said, ‘What does ‘kind of’ mean?’ I said, ‘Well, I used to, but I don’t anymore because I play off to the side.’ He said, ‘Man, you should go talk to Prof.'”
Stafford’s life took a significant turn after that introduction. He met Professor Fielder, who was interested in one thing: Stafford’s passion for playing the trumpet. “Prof said as long as you put air through the horn, it doesn’t matter where you put the mouthpiece. I thought that was a classic line. Wow! From my first lesson with him coming up from D.C., he was something else. He was a source of knowledge, and he had a particular way of teaching which evolved as you got to know him. He was an encyclopedia of wisdom when it comes to trumpet, trumpet literature, and pedagogy. He was a master.”
In 1979, Professor Fielder joined Rutgers University, following an illustrious career as a musician and educator. His legacy includes mentoring acclaimed musicians like Terence Blanchard, Michael Mossman, Riley Mullins, George Shaw, and Frank Lacy.
Terell Stafford, in turn, has carried on Prof’s legacy, both on his instrument and in the classroom. He serves as the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, is the founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, and holds the role of Managing and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP).
Born in Miami and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and Silver Spring, Maryland, Stafford earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a Master of Music from Rutgers University in 1993.
Stafford commends the educational work being done at Rutgers Jazz Ensemble and the Mason Gross School of the Arts. “There’s a legacy with great teachers at Rutgers. There’s a lot of opportunities for young musicians in New Brunswick. There are a few places for them to play, weekly jams, and that’s great. One thing that Wynton told me years ago was to make sure you cultivate a community, and that’s what I see Conrad (Herwig) is doing. Not only is he teaching the students at a very high level, but he’s cultivating a community in New Brunswick.”
Reflecting on his journey, Stafford attributes much of his success in education to the invaluable lessons he learned from Professor Fielder. “He had it figured out.”