Posts Tagged ‘Idyllwild Arts Jazz’

Student Gets Real World Jazz Experience

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Marshall Hawkins gives his jazz students real world experiences. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At Idyllwild Arts, some jazz students get music gigs long before they graduate from high school. American Idol heartthrob Casey Abrams, and former grads Caleb Hensinger and Jacob Scesney (who now attend Berklee College in Boston), and currently, Lake, a guitar player, have all played with Marshall Hawkins and Paul Carman at Cafe Aroma.

Jazz students have also performed at public high schools, for competitions like Spotlight and the Berklee Jazz Festival, during auditions for summer music festivals, at weddings, country clubs and other gigs throughout the year. However, Cafe Aroma remains constant.

Inigo, a junior from Brazil, played there once.

“It was a great experience playing with Marshall,” Inigo said. “I learn so much from him.”

In fact, during that Cafe Aroma gig, Marshall threw Inigo a curve ball.

“We’re playing ‘Caravan,’ which had a 4/4 tempo,” Inigo explained. “He looks straight at his bass and says 6/8.”

Inigo wasn’t expecting that, and immediately had to speed up the tempo. He said later it was a good “real world” experience.

It also showed how intimately connected jazz players are. Sometimes, Inigo said, they only speak with their eyes.

For instance, at his Junior Recital at Stephens Recital Hall on Monday, April 9, Inigo said that the drummer had missed a tempo change, and the bass player stared at him, and he quickly recovered.

Oftentimes, jazz students play at Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild. Sachmo art by Marcia Gawecki.

“It happens all the time,” Inigo said “At school gigs, we are constantly looking at each other for cues.”

Inigo has eight more performances to go before the end of the school year in June.

“Last year, Caleb, a horn player, told me to accept all requests for being an accompanist,” Inigo said. “He said that you’ll learn something new from each one.”

So Inigo said “yes” to nine other students this year, including Randy, Kat, Walker, Tyler, Alex, Ken, Nick (vocal), Tiffany and Katy (who left the school).

He said he doesn’t always like their music choices or how they play them, but welcomes each new experience.

“Sometimes, I get to play some of my favorite jazz standards,” he said.

For his April 9 recital, Inigo’s play list included: Straight, No Chaser; Four on Six; Nica’s Dream; How My Heart Sings and Impressions.

In June, Inigo is going to Bangkok, Thailand, for the first time, with his girlfriend, Tierra, a Musical Theatre grad, who lives there. For three weeks, he’s going to play at the Maple Hotel, which is owned by her family.

(from left) Jacob and Caleb. Caleb advised Inigo to accept all student recital requests.

“Tierra said that Thai people are crazy about Boss Nova (Brazilian music), so I’ll be playing guitar and singing in Portuguese,” Inigo said. “I’m an average singer.”

When he returns to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the rest of the summer, Inigo will likely get his regular gig back. It’s at a small bar called O Barsinho, where he accompanies a singer.

“Alicia Santas is about 30 years old, beautiful and really nice,” Inigo said.

When Alicia first met him, she asked him what type of music that he listened to.

“I knew all of the songs that she liked,” he said. “So she said, ‘Perfect!’ and hired me on the spot.”

But when Alicia’s onstage, she’s all professional.

“She just turns around and announces the name of the song, and expects me to know it,” Inigo said. “I’ve been lucky so far.”

Their song set generally remains the same, but once when the crowd asked for an encore, Inigo was sweating bullets.

“I was just hoping that she’d request a song that I knew,” he said.

As it turns out, an audience member requested a song that he knew. This summer, he’ll keep building up his repertoire of songs.

Inigo said all of these performances at Idyllwild Arts and at Cafe Aroma in Idyllwild, at the Maple Hotel in Bangkok and at the O Barsinho in Sao Paolo, all help him build his confidence and gain ‘real world’ experiences as a musician.

“When you play, you’ve got to make it look easy,” he said.

He quoted famous jazz bass player Charles Mingus who said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple , awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

To view Inigo’s April 9 jazz recital, and others, check out the U Stream link on the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

Mark your calendars for the next Idyllwild Arts Jazz Concert on Tuesday, May 22 in the IAF Theatre.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Students to Perform at Berklee Jazz Fest

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

(from L) Lake with Ashi and Alejandro at another event

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On Saturday, March 10, four jazz students from Idyllwild Arts Academy will be attending the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in Boston. Last year, two brought back Outstanding Musician and Superior Musician Awards.

The four jazz musicians who are going this year are: Lake (guitar), Luca (piano), Mary (bass) and Max (drums). Lake and Mary are seniors, Luca is a junior and Max is a sophomore.

“I know that a piano, bass, guitar and drums sounds like an unusual jazz combo,” Max explained. “Even though we don’t have a horn player, we sound pretty good.”

Lake, the only one who will be attending the Berklee Jazz Festival both years, doesn’t feel the pressure to win more awards. He’s racked up a few of his own this year, including a Young Artist Award, a Downbeat Magazine Award (June issue), and an Honorable Mention at the Music Center’s Spotlight Competition.

Jazz drummer Max is looking forward to his first competition

Although a little arrogance would be expected, Lake remains humble.

“There are so many deserving musicians out there,” he said.

Not to be outdone, Luca, the jazz pianist, just won a songwriting award. But they won’t be playing his original music at Berklee. The jazz combo will be playing three songs, including “Moment’s Notice” by John Coltrane, “Monk’s Mood” by Theolonious Monk and “Straight Up and Down” by Chick Corea.

Max, from Russia, is looking forward to the Berklee Jazz Festival, but is a little nervous about playing before large crowds at the Hynes Convention Center. It’s his first competition, and he’s relatively new to jazz. Before coming to Idyllwild Arts this year, Max hadn’t played jazz before.

He said he looked up Idyllwild Arts online, and received a great scholarship. He likes living up in the San Jacinto Mountains, but it’s not as rustic as Russia.

“In Russia, there are more bears there than there are squirrels here,” he said.

Portrait of Marshall Hawkins by Idyllwild artist Marcia E. Gawecki

He knows about bears firsthand. When he went canoe camping with this father, he heard “crunching” sounds outside their tent late at night.

“I just knew that it was a bear,” Max said.

In the morning, there were fresh bear paw prints all around their tent and campsite.

He said he’ll never forget that sound. Perhaps it might work its way into one of his drum solos in the future? Max only laughs.

In Boston, the group, including jazz instructors Marshall Hawkins and Paul Carman, will meet up with former jazz students, Caleb (trumpet), Jacob (saxophone) and Ashi (drums), who now attend the Berkelee College of Music in Boston. In 2011, Jacob brought back an Outstanding Musician Award and Lake received a Superior Musician Award.

They got a jump start at Idyllwild Arts, and played regular gigs at Café Aroma in Idyllwild. When their schedules would allow, Caleb, Jacob and Lake would perform with Marshall and Paul on Tuesday nights. On a few occasions, they played with bassist and jazz grad Casey Abrams before he entered the 10th Season of American Idol, and catapulted into the world’s stage.

Casey Abrams banner at Cafe Aroma. The 7 x 9 foot banner is for sale for $900

This weekend, Casey will be performing at the Idyllwild Arts Spring Gala in Los Angeles.

Whether these four will bring back more awards from the Berklee Jazz Fest is anyone’s guess. We’ll find out soon enough at the next jazz concert.

When they performed together at the last jazz concert, Stephens Recital Hall was packed. Their concerts have become so popular that they’ve had to move to the IAF Theatre in Bowman for the next one.

For more information on the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171. And more about the Berklee High School Jazz Festival, visit. www.berklee.org.

The original Casey Abrams acrylic banner, 7 x 9 feet, is for sale for $900. However, the Marshall Hawkins banner is sold. Email: idyllwildwriter@gmail.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Scat! to the Student Jazz Concert Tuesday

Monday, December 12th, 2011

(from L) Lake, Ashi and Alejandro, from another event. Lake is among the jazz musicians who will play on Tuesday night.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Scat!

That might be something you’d shout at an annoying cat. But we’re talking about cool cats here. Like Louis Armstrong, Marshall Hawkins and Casey Abrams, to name a few.

Jazz musician Louis Armstrong was credited with the invention of “scat.” That’s when a singer uses nonsensical syllables to sing improvised lines of a jazz tune.

Idyllwild Arts grad Casey Abrams brought scat to America’s living rooms during Season 10 of “American Idol” last year. Most were amused when Casey would play his bass and scat, as if he was speaking a new language.

But Casey learned how to scat from the scat master, Marshall Hawkins, who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

Scat is not just something to say to an annoying cat.

“Marshall is the best scatter around,” all the jazz students would say.

Marshall didn’t stop with Casey. He’s also teaching the singers of the new Jazz Chorus how to scat too.

This Tuesday night, Dec. 13, you will hear them scat and play their hearts out. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Elijah, a pianist from Hamburg, Germany, is among the nine members of the new Jazz Chorus. But he admits that he can’t scat.

“I’m not really a good scatter, but I can sing good enough to blend into the background,” Elijah said last weekend. “Some of the others are really good at scatting. You should hear them!”

Elijah mentioned the names of the five or six songs the new Jazz Chorus will be singing on Tuesday night, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

He said the songs have jazz and blues roots with a “Manhattan Transfer” sound. As a teenager, Elijah is too young to remember the 70s band, Manhattan Transfer, which was known for their four-part harmonies and hit single, “Operator.” But he must’ve heard their memorable harmonies to borrow from them.

Elijah said that Tuesday’s jazz concert is not just about the Jazz Chorus, but also include features the two jazz combos, and the entire Idyllwild Arts Jazz Orchestra.

Casey Abrams (center) helped bring scat into American living rooms during the last season of "American Idol."

“We’ve been practicing since Parents Weekend, at the beginning of the school year,” Elijah said. “We’re ready!”

The Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall at the end of Tollgate Road in Idyllwild. The concert is free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat!

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:48