Jordi Marí, Outstanding Teacher and Jazz Performer

Performing at the Durham Jazz Workshop in Durham, NC on February 11, 2016, band members: Jordi Marí on the piano, Richard Scoville on the soprano and alto sax, Jay Miller on the tenor sax, former band member Kevin Guard on the guitar, Mike Maloney on the bass, and Bob Wells on the drums. Photo courtesy of Jordi Marí.

Jordi Marí, Professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at NC State University, has a talent for more than just being an academic – he is also a gifted pianist for a local jazz band.

Last year, Jordi — who has been teaching Spanish at NC State since 1997 — won the Lonnie and Carol Poole Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is also a well-known scholar specialized in 21st-century Spanish cultural studies and contemporary Spanish cinema, and the author of two books and many more scholarly articles. Currently, he is working on a third book on contemporary Spanish horror cinema.  

Along with Jordi on piano, today the band comprises Richard Scoville on soprano and alto sax, Jay Miller on tenor sax, Steve Bockino on guitar, Mike Maloney on bass, and Bob Wells on drums. They sometimes perform alongside vocalist Emy Scoville as well.

Jordi joined some of the original band members last fall, when he began attending the Durham Jazz Workshop (DJW). “We practice together on a weekly basis at the DJW,” Jordi explains, “where we work under he direction of David Finucane.” Additionally, they also practice on weekends to jam with Emy at the Scoville’s home – fondly nicknamed “The Scovilla.”

Jordi began playing as a teenager, studying drums, the flute, and jazz harmony and theory. After a hiatus devoted to university and his professional career, he picked music back up, honing his skill on the piano. The keys are now his exclusive instrument focus.

Jordi’s passion for piano manifests itself in his excitement and love for jazz music in general. “For me, as a player, nothing compares to the exhilaration of playing in an improvisational way,” he states, “which is what jazz is all about. Improvisation means you’re composing the music in your head only a fraction of a second before you play it. You’re creating something on the spur of the moment…it is a risky, exciting, and wonderful feeling.”

When asked about the experience, Jordi responds with the wisdom of a true musician. “I am grateful for the opportunity to share the music that I love with other people,” he responds. “To me, playing with/for other people is a way of expressing love, sharing something precious and valuable with those around you: in that sense, it is exactly like teaching.

Most of the bands gigs take place either at the DJW or at “The Scovilla” in Chapel Hill. You can catch a performance in late May at the DJW, or around the Triangle this summer with their vocalist, Emy.

At the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures thinking and doing isn’t limited to the classroom, or even our campus. We are a community of multi-talented people who work together to inspire debate, solve problems and enrich our communities. For us, enriching doesn’t just mean teaching or researching — it also means taking part in the community at large. And Jordi is a good example of the many ways we at FL&L do take part.

If you want to listen to some of the band’s recent performances, please visit Jordi’s YouTube channel

By Jazmyn Morere