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Las Vegas Provides Suite Inspiration For Jazz Composer Nathan Tanouye

The dictionary defines jazz as a type of music “characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm.”

Does that sound like Las Vegas to you?

It did to Nathan Tanouye, a UNLV professor and veteran musician who is readying his “Las Vegas Suite” jazz orchestral composition for its world premiere in early 2017.

“The Las Vegas Suite is comprised of a multi-movements. Each one has a different feel to it,” he told KNPR's State of Nevada. “I’m writing it based on the variety of things we have here in this city.” 

He drew inspiration from the natural beauty of the desert and the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip. 

In fact, the name of the piece he'll be offering as a taste of his work at a fundraiser and concert on Sunday at UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre is called "The Hustle." The concert will feature Tanouye directing the Las Vegas Jazz Connection orchestra, a group made up of many homegrown players.

Funds raised at the event, sponsored by the American Jazz Initiative and the university’s Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center, will allow Tanouye to complete and stage his composition.

Tanouye said his compositions are really just music he hears in his head and tries to channel.

Support comes from

“I don’t really know," he said "I kind of consider myself an antenna when I write music. I just listen to the music. It’s already in my head or some sort of space up here. And I just write down what I hear”

For tickets and more information, click here.

(Editor's Note: This interview originally ran in September 2016)


Nathan Tanouye, jazz composer and UNLV professor

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada