Kurt Dietrich retired as Professor of Music and Barbara Baldwin De Frees Professor of Performing Arts at Ripon College at the end of the 2018-19 school year, where he taught since 1980. Dietrich graduated from Lawrence University, where he studied with Marge Irvin, Derald DeYoung and John Harmon and played in the band of the legendary Fred “Prof” Schroeder. He received his master’s degree from Northwestern University, where he studied trombone with another legend, Chicago Symphony trombonist Frank Crisafulli, as well as playing in the bands of John Paynter. He earned his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At Ripon College Professor Dietrich directed the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble, taught brass instruments and a variety of courses. He was trombonist with Matrix, with which he recorded for RCA, Warner Brothers, Pablo and Summit Records. He continues to do freelance playing, in both jazz and classical groups. His first book, Duke’s ‘Bones: Ellington’s Great Trombonists, was published in 1995. His second book, Jazz ‘Bones: The World of Jazz Trombone, appeared in 2005. He has also contributed to Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Black Music Research Journal, International Dictionary of Black Composers and other publications. He regularly writes reviews of books and recordings. Dietrich was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the International Association for Jazz Education in 2006. His most recent book, Wisconsin Riffs: Jazz Profiles from the Heartland, was released in April 2018 by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Currently, with the cooperation of the Jarreau family and Jarreau management, Kurt is writing a biography of the great jazz/pop/R&B singer Al Jarreau.