Saturday, February 18, 2012

Can you say "simpatico?"

I'm not certain that I can, after attempting to decipher the pronunciation marks in  (sɪmˈpɑːtɪˌkəʊ, -ˈpæt-). But I'm sure that I experienced it today, while participating in adjudicating a high school jazz festival and conducting a master class, with the day culminating with a combination jazz clinic and concert with all the clinicians participating. It was a sterling example of interaction among all of us, both musically and educationally. Each one had something to contribute as we explained what happens within a group improvising jazz, how we listen to and play off each other, and how each wind instrumentalist and rhythm section player complements the soloists and the group effort.

The guilty parties were: John Proulx (Grammy winner) on piano and vocals; Larry Holloway (Red Mitchell Scholarship Award winner) on bass; Dave Tull (Chuck Mangione band), drums; Jay Mason (Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band), alto sax, Frank Potenza (University of Southern California faculty), guitar; and Jeff Jarvis (Chair of Long Beach State jazz department), trumpet. I played trombone, but I did have one tuba player in my clinic. Four bands participated (a fifth was a no-show, but that gave us more time with the one that did make it). We all adjudicated each band's performance, then we took turns, three at a time, pointing out to the students what we thought they could do to improve. The kids were all very receptive and respectful, which made our job easier and more worthwhile. The band directors all seem very dedicated, and were grateful for the help we gave their students, which makes their job easier too, I'm sure. All in all, it was a very good day.

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