UofL Jazz Professor Michael Tracy
UofL Jazz Professor Michael Tracy

UofL Jazz Professor Michael Tracy has hit the road again.

Last week he left for teaching engagements and performances in China, and later this summer he’ll land in the Republic of Georgia and Colombia.

Not that such globe-trotting is new to the saxophonist and director of the Jazz Studies Program in the School of Music.

The number of countries he’s visited in his life will likely reach 50 this year.

 “It’s all been through jazz,” he said. “It’s pretty neat. Everyone wants to play music.”

Tracy, who directs UofL’s renowned Jazz Fest, which he founded in 1994, has been especially adept at establishing international exchanges and collaborations with students and faculty. This summer is no different.

Tracy will travel with pianist Winton Reynolds to five cities in China for two weeks this month where they’ll work with students, including some special needs children, educators, performers and administrators in concert and in the classroom. UofL math professor, Wei-bin Zeng, helped coordinate the trip. Zeng and Tracy know each other as fellow board members of Sister Cities, Louisville.

MT-150x150“He’s been trying to get me to make the trip for years and it finally worked out,” Tracy said.

As a Fulbright Senior Specialist, Tracy also will perform and teach at the Tbilisi State Conservatoire and Kavkaz Jazz Festival in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.

“A major feature of my work will be to act in the role of coordinator/mediator, bringing together musicians from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and other countries throughout the region through playing jazz,” he said. “What we do here in the states is all kind of new there.” 

UofL guitar professor Craig Wagner will join him, along with local journalist Marty Rosen, who will document the endeavor with articles, video, photos and social media.

Lastly, Tracy will join faculty going to Colombia in August, where they’ll work with two School of Music alums there — Adriana Guzmán, Calí – University of Valle, and Javier Perez, Bogota – Universidad El Bosque — to establish a connection between the universities.

Of course, Tracy already has an eye toward future travels. He says he’s planning to go to Cuba next.

For Louisvillians who would like to hear what Tracy has picked up in his many trips to Brazil and South America, the Mike Tracy Brazilian and Latin Ensembles often play around town. Just check Tracy’s webpage for upcoming dates.

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Niki King

Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.