Jazz on Demand

A visiting professor taps students for an original composition to promote the movie Soul

As the premiere of the Pixar and Disney film Soul drew near last December, Visiting Director of Jazz Studies John Petrucelli got an unexpected phone call. The team in charge of promoting the flick asked him to compose an original track inspired by its themes and setting. The movie features the contemporary jazz community in New York, and Petrucelli played bass for the film’s soundtrack.

He was sent some shots of pivotal scenes in the movie and tasked with writing something inspired by its general ambiance from his perspective as a modern jazz musician. “They wanted it in five days, the day before the movie went out,” he says. To make the urgent deadline, he turned to some musicians he knew he could trust—current and former U students.

Petrucelli and his impromptu band created an original piece called “Coming Home.” Although it wasn’t featured in the movie, the song was used in its promotion. For Petrucelli, the whole ambiance of Soul is deeply familiar. “New York is really where I came of age as a jazz musician. It’s one of the most storied cities in terms of the evolution and development of jazz. And to start performing in New York when I was 12 or 13 years old was daunting in some ways, but it pushed me, and everyone who came up with me during that time, to be serious and make strides in pursuing our individual artistry.”

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