Does Baltimore’s Peabody Institute discriminate against Jazz?

That’s the situation which the Baltimore Sun’s Mary Carole McCauley investigates, following the recent acrimonious resignation of the school’s founding chairman, saxophonist Gary Thomas. Thomas, a native Baltimorean, who previously played with his own groups, the likes of trumpeter Miles Davis and many other bands, has claimed that resources for the Jazz program were consistently underfunded, and that scholarships for deserving students were less than those in the so-called Classical program. One of the three instructors who have left Peabody in the past 18 months, the saxophonist was also the first African-American department chairman in the conservatory’s history. Some students say Thomas’ on-the-job experience was the only reason they attended the school, while trumpeter Dave Ballou, who teaches at Towson University, maintains that in general there is often subtle disdain for Jazz players in many post-secondary music school environments.