When Michael D'Angelo takes the stage during Friday's Jazz with Strings faculty/alumni concert, it’s hard to know what box to check next to his name.
Though not a graduate of UNCW, D'Angelo became involved with the music department a decade ago as a UNCW Summer Jazz Workshop participant. He later served as a workshop instructor before officially joining the department as a lecturer in jazz studies and drum set instructor last year.
A native of Charlotte, D'Angelo met current music chair Frank Bongiorno (who is leading the Jazz with Strings concert) after participating in an all-state honors jazz band. "Frank spoke with my parents and me about attending the workshop. After the first year I was hooked," says D'Angelo. "The workshop connected me to not only jazz, but to peers around the state who I was able to make music with for a week."
D'Angelo would graduate from not only high school, but from workshop participant to instructor. While away at University of North Texas earning a Bachelor’s of Music and a Master’s of Music from Indiana University, he returned to the jazz workshop, year after year.
Becoming a faculty member at UNCW is "a definite full circle moment" for D’Angelo. He describes it as "a very new experience, but familiar at the same time. Because many current faculty were instructors during the jazz workshops, the transition has been a breeze."
Although he’s reached faculty ranks, D’Angelo says, “I don't think we ever stop being students. There's always something new to learn with the ever changing nature of music…we're all at different stages of being a beginner. When we're students, we learn by discovering how something works. The first workshop at UNCW I attended, I really discovered jazz by being exposed to it. I remember Dr. Bongiorno playing "Caravan" by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. That was an eye opening record for me. It made me think, "Wow, I want to see what this is all about."
Members of the campus and community are invited to see what “all that jazz” is about at the upcoming Jazz with Strings concert in which D’Angelo, Bongiorno and others will perform a collection of works inspired by legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. The event is part of UNCW’s Family and Alumni Weekend.