Andrew Homzy | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Andrew Homzy

Andrew (Paul) Homzy. Musicologist, composer, arranger, bandleader, b Toledo, Ohio, 31 Oct 1945; B Mus (Baldwin-Wallace College) 1967, MMA (McGill) 1971.

Homzy, Andrew

Andrew (Paul) Homzy. Musicologist, composer, arranger, bandleader, b Toledo, Ohio, 31 Oct 1945; B Mus (Baldwin-Wallace College) 1967, MMA (McGill) 1971. He played tuba and cornet in his youth and studied the former instrument, as well as music theory, at Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, before moving to Montreal in 1967. His teachers have included Harvey Phillips (tuba, Cornell U, summer 1965), David Baker (improvisation, New England Cons, summer 1969), and Marvin Duchow (musicology, McGill University, where Homzy's thesis was 'Jazz - style and theory: from its origin in ragtime and blues to the beginning of the big band era [1932]'). While playing tuba in Montreal studio, ballet, opera, and symphony orchestras, and with the Vic Vogel Big Band, Homzy led several jazz groups including, 1975-7, Saxophone No End.

Homzy began teaching at Concordia University in 1977, serving as co-director with Charles Ellison of jazz studies and 1982-3 as chairman of the music dept. In 1984 he established the 16-piece Andrew Homzy Jazz Orchestra. Specializing in extended works, it has commissioned Concerto for Jazz Orchestra, Hommage à Hoagy Carmichael, Sackbuts, and Harold Arlen Suite from Francy Boland and The Longer Shorter Suite (of four pieces by Wayne Shorter) from Ted Moses. It has given the North American premieres of Stan Tracey's Genesis and Boland's Faces, and the Canadian premieres of compositions by Boland, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and George Russell. Homzy himself has contributed Ellington transcriptions and original works - eg, The Duality of the Blues and Tribute to Tadd Dameron - to the repertoire. With the leader at the piano, the orchestra has performed at Concordia University, at the FIJM annually 1985-90, and in Ottawa at Ellington '90, for which Homzy served as musical director.

As part of his on-going research into extended jazz compositions he discovered, in some disarray, the manuscript of Charles Mingus' two-hour Epitaph in 1985. Homzy collaborated with Gunther Schuller in the editing and assembly of the score, which was recorded under Schuller's direction in 1989. Homzy has written liner notes for that recording, as well as for several albums of music by Ellington. He also has presented many scholarly papers on the music of Ellington and Strayhorn and, at Ellington '91 in Los Angeles, conducted the Bill Berry Orchestra in unrecorded selections from Ellington's Jump for Joy, reconstructed from scores held at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

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