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January 2001

Release Date: January 16, 2001

Jazz Great 'Fathead' Newman to Appear at ASU Jan. 23

World-renowned jazz saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman will speak on jazz and its history during a talk and performance Tuesday, Jan. 23, on the Angelo State University campus.

For the program Newman will draw upon his vast experience in the music industry, including touring with Ray Charles for many years, performing countless jazz dates and observing the jazz scene, both yesterday and today. His presentation is scheduled in the Recital Hall of the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The program is open to the public free. Information on the event is available at 942-2085.

Dr. John Irish, director of ASU's Jazz Band, said Newman's presentation is an exciting opportunity for jazz fans to hear an interesting perspective of the development of jazz by one of its fabled musicians.

Newman has become a legend in both jazz and rock & roll circles. He grew up in Dallas, playing in local bands. After two years of college, he decided to go on the road with Buster Smith and toured Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and California. On one of these tours, he met Ray Charles, and they quickly became friends. When Charles started his own band he asked Newman to join him. They played together from 1954-64 and 1970-71.

The musician got his "Fathead" nickname from his high school music instructor because he had the habit of memorizing the music rather than reading it as his teacher wanted. One day during class, Newman's sheet music was upside down on his music stand when his instructor walked up behind him and thumped him on the head. "Fathead," he said, "you are supposed to read the music, not memorize the music." After class all the kids started calling him "Fathead" and it stuck. Newman says the nickname by now is like a trademark. Ray Charles though, preferred to call him "Brains!"

Newman, who is very much a part of the New York City jazz scene, also has left his mark on classic albums by Herbie Mann, Doug Sahm, Natalie Cole, Freddie King, Jack McDuff, and Shirley Scott. He has recorded albums for Atlantic Records, Warner Brothers, Prestige Label, Amazing Records and the Muse Label. In 1990, he was nominated for a Grammy for "Bluesiana Triangle," a collaboration with Dr. John and Art Blakey. In 1998, he received a Pioneer award from the Rhythm & Blues Society. Newman has appeared on many television shows, including David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, Late Night Music, BET's Jazz Café and many PBS music documentaries. He also played Buster Smith in the film Kansas City.

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