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$1.5 million gift brings jazz program a spacious new home

Photos: Sarah Andrews

The Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center is a 4,600-square-foot arts facility designed by Daniel R. Sloan, principal at Baldwin White Architects.

Its namesake, retired senior chairman of McDonald’s Corp. Fred Turner, is a Des Moines native who attended Drake from 1951 to 1953. He served on Drake’s Board of Trustees from 1980 through 1987 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university in 1983. He was also awarded Drake’s top honor for alumni, the Distinguished Service Award.

Drake is where he met his wife, Patty, the Center’s other namesake. A university alumna, Patty was very involved in music and the arts at Drake. She passed away in 2000, and the Center’s 70-seat jazz club/coffee bar is called Patty’s Place in her honor.

Construction of the jazz center was completed just in time last semester for Drake’s Jazz Ensemble Two to move its Dec. 7 concert from the Performing Arts Hall into the new facility.

The concert featured the ensemble under the direction of Associate Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies James Romain. Free and open to the public, it drew such a large crowd that some members of the audience could be seen standing against the walls or sitting on the ground.

Members of the ensemble practice on Mondays and Fridays in the new space, and sophomore music and performance major Taylor Gamble raves about the facility.

“It’s better in every single way possible,” he said, comparing the jazz program’s old performance space to the new.

“The sound system is better because we have an actual sound system set up, and we have plenty of space now with separate and sound-proof rooms,” he said. “People can tune up and rehearse while an ensemble or small group is playing in the main room.”

To view this semester’s full recital schedule for the Drake Jazz Program, visit drake.edu/friends/calendar.


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