paul bodin

Plato, Socrates, and Jazz

Concert and forum connect jazz, children, and philosophy


During his undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, Torrey Newhart focused primarily on music. But he also found that he had such a deep passion for reading philosophy that he pursued a minor in the subject. “I believe that thinking about philosophy opens people up to perspectives other than their own and challenges people to think more broadly on any and all issues,” Newhart, now a Eugene jazz musician, explains. “This translates to my music when I’m improvising or composing, because it serves as a constant reminder that there are no limits to what one can do.”

Newhart’s twin passions converge this Saturday, May 21, when his jazz quintet provides a musical wrap-up to a two-day event that explores “teaching children and adolescents how to engage in critical thinking through philosophical inquiry,” according to the I Never Thought About it That Way! forum’s web site. Newhart’s ensemble will perform his original music influenced by philosophers Plato, Socrates, and Simone De Beauvoir.

Musician, composer, educator Torrey Newhart.

Musician, composer, educator Torrey Newhart.

Saturday night’s “The Philosophy of Jazz” event at the Broadway Avenue House Concerts includes original and familiar tunes played by Newhart on keyboard, Josh Hettwer on tenor sax, his brother Matt on trombone, bassist Lyle Hopkins, and Ken Mastrogiovanni on drums. “The title definitely comes from the performance’s connection to the philosophy talks during the day and since I have a handful of pieces that are directly related to and named after people in philosophy or philosophical concepts, it just made sense!” Newhart says. “The only direct connection to philosophy in the music itself is that we cover a broad range of styles and I hope the listener will join me in a journey of questioning what makes music, music.”