LOOK WHO’S COMING TO TOWN!
Clockwise from left: Miles Berry (18), tenor sax, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; James Francies (17), piano, High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Houston; Michael Mitchell (18), drums, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Dallas; Jose Albizu (17), bass, New World School of the Arts, Miami; Joel Ross (17), vibes, Chicago High School for the Arts; Nick Saia (17), guitar, LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, New York
How do you get to be one of the best young jazz musicians in the country? It doesn’t just happen. It takes dedication to the art form, discipline to practice for countless hours, focus during lessons, concentration during rehearsals, respect for colleagues and the creativity and chops to improvise. It also helps to have talent and some great teachers for role models, instruction and inspiration.
The six young musicians who comprise the 2013 Thelonious Monk Institute National Performing Arts High School All-Star Jazz Sextet are among the best young jazz musicians in the country. They attend high schools that participate in the Thelonious Monk Institute National Performing Arts High School Program. Of all the musicians in this nation-wide program they have been selected as the best of the best.
The Program is designed to support the education of gifted musicians who are attending public performing arts high schools across the nation, offering these students a high-level, musically sophisticated, performance-based jazz curriculum. Participants have the opportunity to study with some of the best jazz artists and educators in the world, perform in jazz combos with their peers, and learn, absorb and integrate what they need to gain entry into esteemed music conservatories and university music schools.
The Institute works with each school to develop a course of study that includes classes in theory, composition, improvisation, history, styles and analysis. It also provides ongoing private and group instruction with Institute educators and visiting artists. The students have opportunities to work with jazz masters and perform in high-profile student ensembles.
Over the last six years North Coast Brewing has contributed more than $500,000 to the Monk Institute in support of jazz education through contributions from the sale of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale. In its role as Presenting Sponsor of the Mendocino Music Festival, North Coast Brewing is delighted to bring the Monk Institute’s National High School All-Star Sextet to perform in the 2013 season. This is an opportunity for North Coast Brewing to dovetail two organizations it supports and bring an outstanding group of young jazz players to the Mendocino Coast. The concert will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 3:00 pm at Preston Hall on Main Street in the town of Mendocino. Tickets are on sale at the Mendocino Music Festival website or 707 937-4041 and are $25, non-reserved and limited seating. In other words, get your tickets now before they sell out.
In addition to the performance, the members of the Sextet will conduct a Peer-to-Peer Jazz Workshop, a special event free to students, on Saturday, July 20 at 10:00 am at the Matheson Theater on Ford Street in Mendocino. The workshop will be a micro version of the Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Initiative, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Through this national initiative, jazz combos in the performing arts high school programs together with established jazz artists, participate in week long performance and information workshops called “informance tours.” Members of the combos perform for and play alongside high school musicians whose schools they are visiting, acting as ambassadors of jazz. They teach their peers about the rich history of jazz and about the deeply held American values it represents: teamwork, collaboration, unity with ethnic diversity, and the vital importance of really listening to one another.
The setting on July 20 will give music students from Northern California the opportunity to work with the exceptionally gifted and motivated members of the All-Star Sextet who are eager to share their skills and knowledge and encourage their peers. High school students interested in participating should contact the Mendocino Music Festival at 707 937-4041.
Eminent jazz educator and professional bassist, Dr. J.B. Dyas, Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development at the Monk Institute, will accompany the All-Star Sextet on this visit to the Mendocino Coast. Formerly Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute, Dyas has performed across the country, taught students at every level, directed large and small ensembles, developed and implemented new jazz curricula and written for national publications. His dynamic and innovative teaching style engages and inspires. Among the many projects he works on, Dyas visits the eleven performing arts public high schools in the program two to three times a year, works with the students, mentors their teachers in how to better teach jazz and goes on the road with the groups selected for the Peer-to-Peer Informance Tours.
So, will the young musicians in the All-Star Sextet go on to become professional jazz musicians and educators? There’s a very good chance they will. These youngsters have a distinct sense of who they are. They are creative, goal oriented, focused and able to concentrate and build on their skills as individuals and in a group. The have developed self-esteem and confidence. They have high expectations for themselves. They have a passion that inspires and guides them. Whatever they decide to do, they have developed the skills to succeed and to create fulfilling lives for themselves.