For 32 years, McDaniel professor Steven "Bo" Eckard was one of the major figures of the college community, reaching out to students, faculty and community members with his passion for music. On Thursday night, McDaniel will host One More Time, a Jazz Night celebration of Eckard featuring faculty, alumni and students.
Eckard served as the director of jazz studies at McDaniel after he began teaching at what was then named Western Maryland College in 1984. In addition to the school's Monday and Thursday night jazz bands, Eckard also founded McDaniel's Electric Bass Ensemble and the World Music Connection.
Friends and colleagues of McDaniel professor Steven "Bo" Eckard, who passed away Thursday, say the professor leaves behind a lengthy musical legacy at the college, from inspired students to ongoing musical groups.
The concert will begin with a performance by the McDaniel College Global Drumming Ensemble, followed by the McDaniel Jazz Ensemble and four musical combos, with the evening concluding with a performance by the Faculty Jazz Ensemble.
Kristin Lagana, who attended McDaniel from 2000 to 2004, said the decision to rebrand the final Jazz Night of the year as a dedication to the late McDaniel professor came soon after Eckard's death. The decision was made to expand the concert to feature performances by students, staff and alumni, all paying tribute to a giant of the McDaniel music department.
"A lot of us considered Bo to be the secret weapon of McDaniel College," Lagana said. "He was one of the college's best recruiters. Any time there was musical talent interested in coming to McDaniel, he sealed the deal. He made you feel like you were a superstar."
Tim Jenkins will lead the McDaniel Jazz Ensemble at the concert. He said he was on board with the concert from the start, and he's pleased they have the opportunity to honor such a major part of the school's legacy. He said the concert will feature a diversity of genres of music to reflect Eckard's love of many different styles.
"He didn't care that jazz had fancier chords than reggae; he treated all music the same and thought of it all equally," Jenkins said.
Steven C. "Bo" Eckard, a member of the music faculty at McDaniel College, where he was senior lecturer of music and founder of the Electric Bass Ensemble, died Aug. 24 of undetermined causes at his Westminster home. He was 58.
Lagana said Eckard was the man who first introduced her to rock music and blues, after a choir-girl upbringing. Today, she performs in both a funk band and a rock band started with connections she first made at McDaniel. At the concert, she said, she will team with several alumni to honor Eckard.
"It's devastating why we have to get together, but on Thursday night, I'm excited to see so many faces I haven't seen in a long time and get out the good hugs, bust our chops and play together again," Lagana said. "We had a rehearsal for my combo on Thursday night, and it was like we never skipped a beat. It felt like just another Monday night."
Throughout the evening the groups will perform songs by jazz legends like Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Several groups will also perform an Eckard composition or two. Lagana said she hopes the concert captures how Eckard helped transformed the McDaniel music department into a place that was inclusive to different kinds of people, cultures and music. Jenkins said he hopes people walk away with a greater understanding of the musician and teacher.
"Bo was very unique as a man," Jenkins said. "He would speak to people exactly the same way, whether they were a great dignitary or some person down on their luck. He did that without trying; it's just how he was."