Larry Willis and Paul F. Murphy will hold a master class and improvised concert this month.

Explore the relationship between jazz & democracy at Loyola master class

 On Thursday, October 11, Loyola University New Orleans will host a master class featuring two world-renowned jazz masters, who will lead a master class and a totally improvised performance.

Paul F. Murphy is a master avant-garde drummer who began playing at age six. He was under the tutelage of National Symphony Orchestra principal percussionist Joseph Leavitt for 11 years. Murphy would also study under Louie Bellson. As a teenager, Murphy performed regularly with Duke Ellington’s bassist, Billy Taylor. By the early 1970s, he was an established bandleader in San Francisco. On invitation from Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons, Murphy traveled to new York, where he helped manage Rashied Ali’s SoHo venue. Eventually, Murphy joined Jimmy Lyons’ band. According to a press statement, a 1981 recording of Murphy and Lyons made them “reference points for how drums and saxophone should sound.”

Larry Willis is a bebop veteran and three-time Grammy Award-nominated pianist who, at 19, played alongside saxophonist Jackie McLean. Since then, he’s worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Lee Morgan, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, Woody Shaw, Carmen McRae, Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis and Hugh Masekela. With over 300 recordings under his belt, he is considered to be “one of the finest jazz pianists alive.”

Together, Murphy and Willis developed “The Spirit of Jazz & Democracy,” a project featuring interactive lectures, performances, workshops, and master classes that derive key lessons from jazz about promoting freedom and inclusive democracy. It features Poet laureate Jere Carroll, drummer Dominic Fragman, and philosopher and Loyola chief diversity officer Sybol Anderson (who will join Murphy and Ellis on October 11 for guest performances and “interactive discussions of jazz and the state of U.S. democracy”).

Master avant garde drummer Paul F. Murphy and renowned bebop pianist Larry Willis will hold a master class and perform a totally improvised concert, “Liberation!” on Thursday, October 11, at Loyola University New Orleans. Both events are free and open to the public.

 “Increasing division in politics challenges our democracy,” Willis said. “All Paul and I really want to do is to be a part of that feeling in philosophy that talks about peace on earth and good will towards men. I think it is a very noble and simple way to live. I can only explain it up to a certain point. The rest of it you’ll have to experience.”

Murphy and Willis’ master class will be held 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in Communications/Music Complex Room 240. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall, Loyola University New Orleans, 6363 St. Charles Avenue. Free parking is available in the university’s West Road Garage, located off of St. Charles Avenue.

For more information, contact the Loyola Box Office at (504) 865-2074 or email The master class and performance are both free and open to the public.