On Thursday, a group of young Calgary musicians got a little taste of how jazz musicians put the bee in beebop.
The Jack Singer Concert Hall was filled with the soft, easy rhythms of a small ensemble consisting of piano, horns, strings and vocals. The musicians came from Jazz at Lincoln Center, the iconic venue on New York’s Upper West Side.
Eight people make up the band that’s here to perform and they’ve invited a number of local jazz-loving music students to watch and listen at a morning rehearsal ahead of their Thursday night gig.
Riley Mulherkar is a trumpeter and music director for Songs We Love.
“So we’re going to get comfortable in that space and while we’re doing that, we’re going to talk to the students and engage in dialogue about what we’re doing on stage,” Mulherkar said. “Why we play these songs, how we put the songs together and also hopefully get to know (the students) a little bit, where they come from, because I know there are a lot of amazing young musicians here in Calgary.”
Jazz at Lincoln Center has an orchestra that travels the world and a strong educational component to inspire young musicians. Mulherkar says this kind of music has been passed down orally for generations and the center has a responsibility to continue this.
“We owe everything to the people who came before us and shared something with us,” he said. “That’s where we got the enthusiasm, that’s where we got the love and also the technical skills and the know-how to play this music, so I think it’s such an opportunity special to be able to do that.”
Mulherkar says the Jazz at Lincoln Center ensemble is made up of young artists and can easily identify with the students of the Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education (CADME).
“It wasn’t that long ago that we were in middle school or even high school, so we know exactly where they are,” he said. “We’re excited to meet them there and share what you know, the lessons we’ve learned in all that we can do to inspire.”
THE POWER OF JAZZ
Jazz at Lincoln Center was founded in 1988 and believes the power of jazz can uplift, inspire and create a sense of community. He wants the students who participate in his educational programs to have a desire to learn and to be curious about where their talents may take them.
“We’ll be working with a lot of advanced jazz students,” Mulherkar said. “So hopefully they’ve been introduced to these concepts of improv and pre-game and everything that we do all the time, at the same time, wherever they are, we just want to push them a little bit a little more and get them thinking and stepping out of their comfort zone a little bit, wherever that is.”
Nathan Gingrich, the musical director of William Aberhart High School, was convinced that the students would learn a lot.
“I hope they will feel not only listening to music at a world-class level, but also seeing the value of musicians working and interacting together, understanding how they produce their product,” he said. -he declares.
Grade 11 student Aspen Dixon plays saxophone and clarinet and loves all things jazz.
“Oh I love it, it’s one of the most interesting things you can do and when it really starts to work, oh it’s one of the most magical things ever,” she said. “You can hear the cycles go by, and it’s so cool when you know what’s coming next, but not exactly how a musician is going to do it right, it’s really interesting.”
Omari Holaki has just started playing the basic trombone and is looking for some practice tips from professional musicians.
“With jazz, it’s really fun to have your own parts and it’s all up to you,” he said. “It can be stressful, but I just feel like once you get through that part, and you really nail it like everyone else, everyone gets their share, it’s so satisfying to see the final results.”
Students from five schools, with 20 students each, attended the one-hour session. Jazz at Lincoln Center performs in Calgary on the evening of March 3, then heads to Scottsdale, Arizona for their next show.