search button
newscenter logo
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

In addition to the concerts, Charles McPherson will host a free clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 1. (Credit: Antonio Porcar) In addition to the concerts, Charles McPherson will host a free clinic on Tuesday, Nov. 1. (Credit: Antonio Porcar)

Renowned Saxophonist Collaborates with SDSU Jazz Ensemble

Award-winning musician Charles McPherson performs in concert with the top campus jazz band.
By Graciella Regua

The San Diego State University Jazz Ensemble of the School of Music and Dance will feature special guest Charles McPherson at their concerts at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Smith Recital Hall.

McPherson is a prominent and respected jazz saxophonist with more than 50 years of musical experience. Beginning at age 19, he performed at concerts and festivals with a variety of music groups nationwide. McPherson has released more than 15 albums, worked with dozens of acclaimed jazz artists, and was even the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film, “Bird.”

Since his move to San Diego in 1978, McPherson has dedicated his time to both performances and music education. He has been recognized with several awards over his career, most recently this year with the 15th Annual Don Redman Jazz Heritage Award for his contributions in jazz education and music, as well as individual musicianship, humanity, and dignity. 

World premiere with historically significant musician

Director of Jazz Studies Bill Yeager noted that this is the third time McPherson will be a featured soloist at SDSU.

“We have a major guest artist every semester, but Charles may be a cut above,” he said. ‘He’s such a historically significant musician. You get a jazz history book and he’s in it.”

Yeager also revealed that he commissioned jazz studies lecturer Karl Soukup to arrange one of McPherson’s original compositions for the concert.

“Charles has written many jazz compositions, but not arranged for a big band, like the Jazz Ensemble,” Yeager said. “This arrangement will be a world premiere to have Charles’ music performed by a band of this size.”

Impact for students

Music education and ensemble trombonist Skylar MacKinnon shared his excitement about the opportunity.

“Getting to play with jazz greats such as Charles McPherson is an amazing opportunity,” MacKinnon said. “We get to see live the results of decades of personal practice, learn about how to survive in an ever-changing music industry, and we learn the philosophies and viewpoints that have propelled the musicians to where they are now.”

MacKinnon, an aspiring high school band director and freelance trombonist finds inspiration in musicians like McPherson.

“Not only does playing with Charles give me an example of musicianship to strive for, it also imparts to me many tips and philosophies that I can use when teaching my future students,” MacKinnon said.

In addition to the concerts, McPherson will host a free clinic at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Music Building, Room 114. He will perform some of his work, discuss his ideas about music and answer questions.

Concert information

There will be two performances, one at 5 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for students, and can be purchased at