Campus Feels the Beat

Walk by Der Rathskellar on the Tulane uptown campus most nights and you're likely to hear the students cheering for a football or basketball game. But on a few nights in the fall and the spring, "The Rat," a sports bar-style eatery, plays host to legends of New Orleans jazz.

Jazz at the Rat, in its second semester, is part of the Lagniappe program, which also will bring pianist Ellis Marsalis to the uptown campus for a free concert later in November.

Jazz at the Rat provides Tulane students with a rare opportunity — not only does the series bring jazz legends right into their "living room," but students and faculty in the Tulane Jazz Studies program are invited to play on stage with the musicians.

"As a developing musician, nothing beats playing alongside a master," says Trina Beck, director of Newcomb-Tulane College programs.

Beck credits Jesse McBride, an accomplished musician and popular tutor in the music department, with orchestrating that aspect of the program and reaching out to potential guest artists.

This Thursday (Oct. 29) percussionist Bill Summers plays at 8 p.m. The New Orleans-based musician's long career includes working with Quincy Jones on the score for Roots, playing with Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and starting Los Hombres Calientes with Irvin Mayfield.

Summers is a perfect fit for this year's program, Beck says, because Summers' Afro-Caribbean style ties in well with this fall's Tulane Reading Project that featured the book, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Several shows are in the works for the spring semester. Beck says some will be feature artists that will be in town for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Der Rathskellar is located on the Garden Level of the Lavin-Bernick Center.

Catherine Freshley received a bachelor of arts in economics and English from Tulane in May 2009.