LifestyleHigh school musicians celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month

High school musicians celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month

An annual recognition of “Jazz Appreciation Month,” presented by the U.S. Department of Education and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, “Jazz Informance,” offered high school jazz ensemble artists a chance to perform and discuss their love of the genre.

Honoring the composer, pianist, band leader, NEA Jazz Master, and Kennedy Center Honors recipient, the ensemble opened with “Cantaloupe Island, a Hancock classic. This session was comparable to a college-level lecture with musical performances, thus the term “Informance.”

Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten gave opening remarks. Students, parents, and  Department of Education staff were ready to enjoy the music and to learn about various ways jazz can be arranged. 

Several themes emerged: listening, practicing, and appreciating the freedom of exploration that comes through playing jazz. 

This year’s “Jazz Informance” included high school students Quinn Rehkemper on alto sax and Julian Frazier on drums, both seniors at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Ben Sherman on tenor sax, a junior at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts in New York, New York, and pianist José André Montaño, a senior at Duke Ellington School for the Arts in D.C. Also performing with the students were mentor Ed Hrybyk, director of Jazz Studies at the Baltimore School for the Arts, who was on bass and, and Sean Jones, chair of Jazz Studies at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland and artistic director of the Carnegie Hall Youth Jazz Orchestra, who was on trumpet.

A student in the audience asked the ensemble how they became so good at playing jazz. 

Dr. JB Dyas, vice president of Education and Curriculum Development at the Hancock Institute, led the session.

“The most important thing about jazz is that it is American music,” Dyas said. “Today, jazz is played worldwide, but it started here a little over 100 years ago. Now jazz is played on every continent, including Antarctica. I have good authority to say they’re listening to Herbie Hancock and Charlie Parker in space.”

Source: Washington Informer

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