Associate Professor, Department of Music, Jazz and Improvisational Music
Take note: David Ballou is fearless. Associate professor in the Department of Music, jazz trumpeter, master of improvisation and recording artist, Ballou has impressive musical chops. He uses them to help students overcome their fear of the unfamiliar and the creative instrumentation that is experimental music. “Risk taking and making mistakes are part of improvisation. You create your composition as you go.”
Create as you go is an apt motto for Ballou’s musical journey. Once part of the vibrant music scene in New York, he earned a living as a freelance trumpet player. How did an urban jazz musician land in suburban Maryland? Ballou says that academia offers opportunities to experiment, explore and share his musicianship with others.
“Towson University’s program, the legacy of Hank Levy, the acceptance of jazz and improvisational music in the department . . . it all comes together to make this a perfect environment for me.”
By its nature, improvisation is spontaneous, so you might wonder whether it can be taught. Ballou says yes. “Everyone improvises. You hit a snag in traffic, and you improvise to get to your destination. Music improvisation is more abstract, but you are using your talents to create on the spot. Our music students are attracted to this program because it is intentionally different. We focus on creating music rather than just playing it.”
Ballou’s eight CD’s are testament to his creative talents. His compositions challenge listeners to visit a new place . . . a place where music isn’t neatly scored, black and white, on a page. His music is an impromptu symphony of color, fearlessly imagined and brought to life by the artist.