Posts Tagged ‘Marshall Hawkins’

Student Hopes to Win ‘Voice of the Valley’ Saturday

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts vocal student Nicky leaves a rehearsal at the Hemet Theater

Once you fall off a horse, the best advice is to get right back on again.

That’s what Idyllwild Arts vocal student did when he was eliminated recently for the NBC TV talent show, “The Voice.”

“I got a callback and screwed it up,” Nicky said. “I was looking into a camera and not a live audience, and started worrying about my image, you know, and what people might think.”

One of “The Voice” judges told him to try again next year and go straight to Call Backs.

In the meantime, Nicky decided to try out for a local talent show, “Voice of the Valleys” and gain more experience. He made the cuts from 99 to 34 to nine. Now on Saturday, he’s going to try and win it.

The prizes are worth the effort of the many rehearsals over the last few weeks. He’s had to squeeze them in during finals, and make many trips down the hill. Until Saturday’s show, Nicky is staying over at his advisor’s house before returning home to San Francisco.

The first prize includes $1,000, a record deal and an audition at Disney.

Nicky said that he’s most excited about the record deal because it would allow him to showcase songs that he’s written over the years, which amount to more than 300. Recently, he wrote songs inspired by artwork created by fellow artists at Idyllwild Arts. For one modern piece, Nicky reached into the piano to strum the keys.

Nicky reaches into the piano to strum the keys

“It’s supposed to sound like a snake,” Nicky said. (see Idyllwild Me story, “Music Comp Collaborates with Visual Artists” dated May 9, 2012).

On Saturday night, Nicky is going to sing “I Want You” by Luke James. In the audience, will be his girlfriend, Paris, a dance major, her father, Ryan Zwahlen, music head, and Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts.

“Everyone’s really good,” Nicky said of the other contestants, who range from high school students to middle-aged adults.

“Luke James is a brilliant new R&B artist, and his arrangement of “I Want You” will take you by surprise,” Nicky said. “There’s a high falsetto that you don’t hear every day.”

(from L) Nicky, Will and Corwin listen to their instructor, Kevin Sullivan

He also has to sing a new vocal arrangement of “It was You,”written by James Below.

After that, Nicky will sing “Don’t Stop Believing” with the group and “Man in the Mirror” from Michael Jackson.

The “Voice of the Valley” Competition will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at the Tahquitz High School Performing Arts Center, located at 4425 Titan Trail in Hemet. (Not at the Hemet Theater where they’ve been rehearsing).

Tickets are $25 and $15 for students. For more information, call 951-743-0872 or visit www.vov2012.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Final Student Jazz Concert Tuesday Night

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Marshall Hawkins once played with Miles Davis. Image by Marcia E. Gawecki

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“Four,” a song by jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, is considered to be among the lineup for the final Idyllwild Arts student jazz concert Tuesday night, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowman Arts building.

It stands to reason that Jazz Chair Marshall Hawkins would pick a song from Miles Davis. As a jazz musician, composer, and band leader, Miles is considered to be one of the most influential jazz musicians of our time.

It is also well known on campus that Marshall once played with Miles.

However, the details of the experience haven’t fully come to life. The jazz students say it’s a cool fact, and perhaps Marshall’s esteem is boosted even higher in their eyes.  But they don’t push him for details.

(from L) Walker (guitar) and Randy (sax) will be performing

Hopefully, Marshall will write about Miles in his memoirs one day.

In the meantime, however, we’ll get to enjoy “Blue Haze: Four” as one of the songs that will be performed by Marshall and the students tonight. The key word is “possible” because the lineup and music selection changes all the time. Sometimes, the students don’t know the lineup until just shortly before the concert begins.

Jazz alumni Jacob (left) and Caleb will be playing at the concert

“It doesn’t matter,” said Randy who plays the saxophone. “We know the music already. It’s just a matter of which order Marshall wants to take it.”

Walker, a graduating senior who normally plays guitar, will switch to bass for Tuesday’s performance because one of the bass guitar players hurt her finger.

“It’s a totally different instrument, but I’m up to the challenge,” said Walker.

According to the Jazz Education web site, “Blue Haze: Four” was recorded in 1954, just after Miles had overcome his drug addiction. It features Horace Silver, Percy Heath and Art Blakey.

Interestingly enough, “Four” was usally attributed to Miles Davis, but it was actually written by Eddie Vinson for Miles Davis. Today, both are usually mentioned as authors. This is an interesting solo, as Miles articulates almost aggressively. Miles’ solo features a hard sound right from the pickup, which he was not known for before.

Idyllwild Arts alumni Caleb Hensinger and Jacob Scesney will be also playing at Tuesday’s jazz concert. Both attend the Burklee School of Music in Boston. Caleb will likely do a nice job with Miles’ “Four,” since he has a similar round sound.

Miles Davis image by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Caleb would play with Marshall and Paul Carman at Cafe Aroma on an occasional Tuesday night, and sometimes steal the spotlight.

“There was one woman in particular who would only come when Caleb was playing,” said Frank Fero from Cafe Aroma. “He really charmed the ladies.”

Another twist to the Tuesday night jazz concert will be a collaboration with a string quartet. The classical musicians include SaSa, Howard and Tiffany. The fourth one Randy couldn’t recall.

“Marshall is going to put us all on stage and build a symphony,” Randy said.

Whatever Marshall and company are up to will turn out to be a wonderful evening of jazz–with some surprises. Although the IAF Theatre in Bowman offers ample seating, it’s still best to arrive early Tuesday night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

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.

 

Idyllwild Townies Support Student Jazz Efforts

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The Tuesday night, Dec. 13, student jazz concert was the place to be in Idyllwild. Everyone was there. And not just parents, faculty and students. Hubert Halkin and Frank Ferro from Cafe Aroma were there, and musician Barnaby Finch, along with countless others who packed Stephens Recital Hall at Idyllwild Arts Academy to over capacity. It was standing room only three deep to the door. No one seemed to mind and no one left at intermission.

One look at Marshall Hawkins’ face, and you’d know he was pleased with the turnout. (After all, that guy never smiles).

“My friend is in the chorus and he’s also Korean,” said Kevin, a Visual Arts student.

“I came to support Marshall,” said Peter Askim, Idyllwild Arts music director.

“I think Casey Abrams brought a lot of popularity to jazz, even on campus,” said Mary, who was taking pictures for the academy.

“I came to see what great jazz musicians this school is cranking out,” said Hubert. “We want to talk them into playing at Cafe Aroma soon. We’ve already got Lake.”

Regardless of their reasons for coming, there was a festive mood about the place.

When I arrived (30 minutes late), the new Idyllwild Jazz Choir was performing, “Centerpiece.” Anne Farnsworth, their vocal instructor, introduced the piece from the piano bench. The group of nine was dressed up and crowded around a half circle onstage.

“There isn’t much stage room because of all the instruments on stage,” Mary explained, as she maneuvered to get better photos of them.

The overhead spotlights weren’t great for taking pictures either. The lights were least effective in the back of the multi-purpose room.

Towards the end of “Centerpiece,” each of the students took turns and “scatted” one line each. All of them were good, and left you wanting them to scat a little more. And maybe move around a bit too. But I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t Billie Holiday, but teenagers at their first concert.

The Jazz Choir continued with “You Send Me,” “Shenandoah,” and the shorter “Tenor Madness,” arranged by Anne.

Throughout each song, one well-dressed middle aged guy closed his eyes and shook his head to the beat. He was happy in his own little jazz world. Barnaby was listening intently to each word. Some students in the audience were hugging each other and singing along.

After a brief intermission (in which no one left or gave up their seats!), Paul Carman’s Combo took the stage. According to the program, the night was split up into three parts, including Marshall Hawkins’ Combo (which I missed!), the Jazz Choir, and now Paul Carman’s Combo. Paul works closely with Marshall, and, according to the jazz students, each has his own teaching style.

Paul’s Combo was comprised of Lake (guitar), Luca (piano/keyboards), Mary (bass) and Max (drums). Paul introduced the group, and then quickly bowed out.

“This is Lake’s group,” Paul said.

Lake looked every bit the boss. He was dressed in a white blazer, dark shirt and a new haircut. His expression was serious, but the group could “read” his cues from behind him.

They played “Windows,” a modern Chick Corea tune, to start. It was a decent effort, and the crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative. But the four entertainers never smiled. This was serious jazz.

Katie, dressed in a black halter dress, looked every bit the part of an up-and-coming jazz singer. She introduced the Duke Ellington tune, “Solitude,” from behind her long bangs. After the first line, she had everyone in the room captivated.

For Christmas, I wished for a spotlight for her.

Next, Lake lead the group with the favorite Thelonious Monk tune, “Criss Cross.” He seemed to ease up a bit and moved his lips to playing the tune. Luca was moving his lips too. Guess that’s what jazz musicians do.

“Marshall does that too,” exclaimed another student. “It’s funny, but you don’t notice it after awhile.”

When the Korean singer (don’t know his name!) introduced the next song, “The Way You Look Tonight,” it drew a loud “Awwww!” from the women in the audience.

His Beatle haircut and close microphone made it hard for Mary to take his picture. But the crowd was pleased with his version of the famous Jerome Kern tune. He wasn’t afraid to use the microphone.

Some of the other jazz musicians appeared shy and a little unsure about being onstage, however. After the next two tunes, “Monk’s Mood,” and “Moment’s Notice,” Marshall orchestrated the Daniel Jackson song, “Wisdom,” bringing all 14 jazz students onstage.

Three of them recited some words about what wisdom meant, including Walker, who was from Marshall’s Combo. Most of the words of wisdom sounded pretty deep, like poetry.

“Marshall’s going to lead everyone in the group by just pointing to them,” Paul announced to the audience.

Katie, Emily, Paul and the Korean guy were scat singing, which wasn’t an easy feat over all those instruments, including a keyboard, piano, violin, French horn, saxophone, guitar, electric guitars, bass and drums. “Wisdom” wasn’t chaos, but a nicely-orchestrated song. Marshall brought everyone into the tune at the right time.

A few players, such as Lake, Randy, Inigo and Max, got to perform standout solos during “Wisdom.” Afterwards, everyone in the audience showed their appreciation. Everyone around me was certain that Max would get a girlfriend after his standout drum solo. He was just oozing jazz confidence.

“That was a lot of fun,” remarked everyone as they left Stephens Recital Hall Tuesday night. It was dark, damp and cold in Idyllwild, but no one seemed to notice. They had been warmed on the inside from a night of good jazz.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Dec 14, 2011 @ 17:41

 

 

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

 

 

 

‘Welcome Home Casey’ Block Party

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Cafe Aroma will be hosting a "Welcome Home, Casey" block party this Sunday

By Marcia E. Gawecki

What’s next for Casey Abrams, the “American Idol” heartthrob from Idyllwild? Will he be making a jazz record? Performing again with Jack Black? Going on tour with his jazz band? Hosting “Saturday Night Live?”

Never mind all that! First, we’re gonna party! Café Aroma is hosting a “Welcome Home, Casey” block party in Idyllwild this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. t o 7 p.m. in front of the restaurant. They’re serving up Casey-named pasta and drink specials. The stage is set for a Casey jazz jam session and there will be booths promoting his charities.

Casey will be there, of course. Probably all jet lagged from his last “American Idol Live” gig in The Philippines. His ears will still be ringing from performing practically every night for the entire summer. He might be a little giddy about coming home.

Yep, our own “Nature Boy” is finally coming home.

Like most folks in this tiny town, I watched him move through the ranks on Season 10 of “American Idol” every Wednesday and Thursday nights. we’d gather before the TV, with chips, pizza and wine glasses in hand, and talk about his chances, how he did last week, and what we think he should do to win.

But you could hear a pin drop when he’d be performing. Sometimes we’d forgot to breathe. Then we’d all talk at once:

“Didn’t he sound great?”

“I think they trimmed his beard.”

Jazz musician Barnaby Finch in front of a Casey banner by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki

“He’s so much better than the other contestants. He’s a true musician with talent.”

“No one in America knew he could play the bass, but we all knew years ago.”

“What will they make him sing next week?

Then we’d vote 50 or 100 times until our fingers would turn blue, and go home happy. Our local boy was making us proud. We weren’t expecting him to just make the “Top 10,” we wanted him to win the darn thing. Making it to No. 6 was quite the feat, though. It was probably a lot harder than we’ll ever know.

One time while still performing on “American Idol,” Casey paid a visit to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, where he graduated from the jazz department a couple of years ago.

“Casey told us that he could have gone farther in the ‘American Idol’ competition if he would have performed more pop songs,” said several students from Idyllwild Arts after his visit. “But he wanted to stay true to his jazz roots.”

“I heard him sing ‘Nature Boy’ during his senior jazz recital,” said Cheyenne, a dance major at Idyllwild Arts. “The place was packed. He was really a popular guy. It was standing room only.”

Casey had performed “Nature Boy” in Idyllwild first, where Nature reigns supreme. Yep, Casey was singing for America about Idyllwild!

“I came to the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program because I heard it was good,” said one 14-year-old voice major with braces from San Francisco. “But I was also hoping that I could meet Casey.”

Casey Abrams jamming with Caleb at an Idylwild Arts event

Casey left a talented Idyllwild Arts graduate, and is returning on Sunday a famous person. Try Googling his name these days and a million articles turn up! On “American Idol,” he sang a duet with Jack Black and kissed JayLo! He’s met all kinds of famous producers, directors, musicians and artists along the way.

“I saw Casey at Forever 21 (clothing store) in New York this summer,” said Tierra, a musical theater major. “He was buying the zipped-up natural clothes that he always wears.”

But Tierra didn’t say hi because Casey was with a friend and seemed preoccupied. He probably would have welcomed seeing a familiar face though.

“Casey emailed me and asked me to come to his show in New York,” Cheyenne added. “He said that he could even get me free tickets, but I couldn’t go.”

On Sunday, Marshall Hawkins, his Idyllwild Arts jazz teacher and mentor, will get Casey onstage to perform with Seahawk Mojo, his band that’s bringing jazz to area grade schools.

“That’s his bass, I can tell by the markings,” Marshall said while looking at a picture of Casey performing “Nature Boy” on “American Idol.” Of course, Marshall won’t be treating Casey any different now that he’s famous.

“Before I met you, I didn’t even know how to talk to another musician,” Casey wrote in a text message to Marshall during the Town Jazz event in Idyllwild this summer. Now we heard that Casey would often help out the musicians in the “American Idol” band.

On Sunday afternoon, Casey will pose for pictures, answer 1 million questions about his “American Idol” experience, and talk about his future plans. But probably the only thing he’ll want to do is play on the familiar Café Aroma stage with his bass. Just a (now world famous) hometown boy playing the jazz that he loves.

Glad you’re home, Casey. All I’m hoping for is a snapshot of you standing next to my huge, hand-painted Casey banner that’s hanging on Café Aroma’s deck! (Your mom promised to buy it!)  Look for more Casey-inspired art inside Cafe Aroma by local artists.

The “Welcome Home Casey” block party will be held this Sunday, Sept. 25, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. outside Café Aroma, located at 54750 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.cafearoma.org.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:03

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshall Hawkins Known as Casey’s Mentor

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Marshall Hawkins mentor relationship with Casey Abrams will appear in a future issue of Down Beat magazine.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The text message from Casey Abrams came while Marshall Hawkins was performing the bass onstage Sunday night during his Town Jazz event in Idyllwild. Casey, the local “American Idol” heart throb, was thousands of miles away performing with “American Idol Live.”

“I got the picture,” Marshall said later. “It was taken a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

Marshall, who helped start the successful Jazz in the Pines event 18 years ago, brought two nights of jazz music to Idyllwild locals and jazz lovers during his first-ever Town Jazz event Aug. 27-28.

Marshall heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy and has played with the likes of Miles Davis. With more than 200 in attendance each night, Marshall plans to host the event next year.

Proceeds went to his charity, Seahawk MOJO, which brings jazz to the grade schools in Idyllwild, Hemet and San Diego.

Marshall didn’t say what Casey’s text message was about, but his mother, Pam Pierce, who lives in Idyllwild, didn’t mind sharing it:

“First of all, I miss you and your crazy classes. And second, you are the reason I got into music on a new and much different level. I would have no idea how to even TALK to another musician–you gave me the language, the knowledge of chord structure, all the possibilities of the bass line, and most importantly, the love I have for jazz.

I needed that cheerleader/friend in my life growing up. You are amazing. We’ll definitely work together in the future.”

Casey Abrams (with Caleb Hensinger, Idyllwild Arts) has credited Marshall for his love of jazz music. Photo credit: ME Gawecki.

Marshall said that Casey would have been performing with him onstage at Town Jazz had he not been committed to “American Idol Live.”

“Casey is part of Seahawk MOJO,” Marshall said. “He’s part of our jazz orchestra. When Casey’s done with his commitment to ‘American Idol,” we’re going to perform together for the kids in the grade schools.”

When Casey was competing on the 10th Season of “American Idol,” he credited Marshall as being his mentor.

“He mentioned it several times on national TV,” said Pam, who was taking tickets Sunday night for Town Jazz.

Sometime in the future, a national magazine will feature a story on Marshall and Casey’s close relationship.

“I’m not going to tell you what’s in the article,” Marshall chided after a Tuesday night jazz set at Cafe Aroma. “I don’t want to spoil it.”

Carl L. Hager, a freelance writer who has written about Casey before, said he plans to show his article to different magazine publishers with jazz listeners in their readership.

“It is possible Down Beat could eventually publish it, or it might end up with Esquire or GQ or Rolling Stone, that hasn’t yet been determined,” Carl wrote in a recent email.

Commemorative Town Jazz T-shirts are still available for $15 each along with full-color posters at The Spruce Moose. All proceeds go to Seahawk MOJO.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Sep 5, 2011 @ 18:21

 

Idyllwild’s Town Jazz Concert Undampened

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

(from L) Volunteer Pam Piece and Jeffrey Taylor support Town Jazz. Pam said that Casey Abrams sent Marshall his regards

Despite the steady rain at showtime, the second evening of the outdoor Town Jazz concert went on without a hitch Sunday night, Aug. 28.

Concertgoers were treated to an evening of jazz under the stars, along with a guest singer, tap dancer and African percussionist.

“We had no battle with the weather,” said bassist Marshall Hawkins, who is spearheading the event. “Right at 5 o’clock, our drummers were playing, but our amps were turned off so we didn’t get shocked. But when the rain stopped, we just took off!”

Many concertgoers had come straight from the Jazz in the Pines concert at the other end of town. The rain wasn’t going to keep them from a steady diet of jazz. They were used to the sudden rainfall because it happened the day before.

Sunday evening’s Town Jazz concert didn’t disappoint the 150 or so who attended. On the bill were the same fine musicians who played the night before, including Daniel Jackson, Gilbert Castellanos, Bob Boss, Brett Sanders, Mikan Zlatkovich. Najite replaced Latin percussionist Roy Gonzales, yet special guests Yve Evans and Roland Esquire Jones remained.

Najite, an African percussionist, dressed in native attire, mellowed the crowd with his bongo rhythms. Singer Yve Evans, who is popular in Palm Springs and Palm Desert, brought the crowd to their knees with her rendition of “Stormy Weather.”

Scott, from Mountain Harvest Market, was among the few who grabbed one of her limited CDs. He had it in hand and was grinning from ear to ear. Yve’s voice had that affect on everyone.

Volunteer Tressa shows off how she jazzed up Marshall's T-shirt

“I have just a few that I brought with me,” Yve announced, and there was a rush from the audience.

Another unexpected highlight in the show was Claudia Gomez, a tap dancer, who did a nice number on a small piece of wood laid onstage.

Marshall said that he had just met Claudia a week earlier, and was glad that she wanted to perform with the band.

Jeffrey Taylor, from Green Cafe Internet, chatted with Claudia afterwards.

“I asked her if she knew about the Nicholas Brothers , and she said yes,” Jeffrey said. “I think she was surprised that I knew about them too.”

The Nicholas Brothers were a tap-dancing team popular in the 1930s. Among their fans was Gregory Hines. Jeffrey had shown a documentary on the Nicholas Brothers two days earlier.

Pam Pierce, a volunteer and the mother of “American Idol” heartthrob, Casey Abrams, said that Casey had sent Marshall a congratulatory text. Casey was currently on the Idol Summer Tour and couldn’t be there to perform. Marshall is Casey’s former teacher from Idyllwild Arts Academy, and the two remain close.

Town Jazz sponsors talk while shielding their eyes from the sun

“I got the photo,” Marshall said. “It was taken of the two of us a long time ago. Casey was here with us tonight.”

He said that Town Jazz will definitely return next year, and he’s making plans with more musicians and sponsors. However, the venue will remain the same.

“The owner of  Jo’An’s said that we could come back every month if we wanted,” Marshall said.

Given the fact that he heads up the jazz department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, and performs with his band and other gigs, it may be hard to pull off a monthly jazz show, he said.

“We want to keep the focus on Seahawk MoJo (his charity for jazz in the grade schools), and not just working as musicians,” he said.

Tap dancer Claudia Gomez performs along with the band

Jon Stonitsch, from The Spruce Moose, one of the sponsors, said that he especially liked the jazz on Sunday evening.

“On Saturday night, there were a lot more people eating and drinking at Jo’An’s,” he said. “But on Sunday night, you could tell there were a lot of jazz lovers in the crowd. They were there just for the music.”

Bryan Tallent, also from The Spruce Moose, said that the Idyllwild Business Round Table is already trying to nail down a date for the 2nd Annual Idyllwild Town Jazz concert.

“We have to get a commitment from those musicians before they go somewhere else,” Bryan said.

Most of the musicians were not tied to the Jazz in the Pines event held the same weekend, but came up because of Marshall’s invitation.

“I’m not certain, but I think only one of the guys played at the jazz fest,” Bryan said.

Ticket sales were steady both nights, along with commemorative posters and T-shirts designed by local artist Marcia E. Gawecki. The remaining 35 will be sold for $15 at The Spruce Moose located on the top level of The Fort.

Volunteer Peggy Gawecki shows off the limited edition Town Jazz T-shirt with Marshall's image.

“Those T-shirts will be worth double the price next year because it was the first Town Jazz event ever,” Marshall predicted.

Jeffrey Taylor was one of the first to buy the fuchsia T-shirt at Mountain Harvest Market, and wore it both days.

“The design is nice, but pick another color next year,” he said with a grin.

Many of the male jazz goers didn’t like the hot pink shirt, while others like Tressa, a volunteer, embellished it with tassels, giving it a Mardi Gras look.

“I learned how to do this design in San Tropez,” Tressa explained.

She took the oversized Marshall T-shirt and cut 1-inch tassels into the neck, sleeves and sculpted the bottom edge. Several women asked her how they could do it to theirs.

No final profit/loss count was available, but Doug Yagaloff, from Mountain Harvest Market, said he was pleased with the turnout and ticket sales. The posters and T-shirts added a lot to the event too, he said.

“We didn’t have much time to plan this year’s event, so it turned out pretty well,” he said.

A limited number of Marshall Hawkins fuchsia T-shirts ($15 each), and signed posters ($5 each) are still available at The Spruce Moose, located in the Fort at 54225 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. For more information, call (951) 659-5556.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Aug 30, 2011 @ 14:11

Town Jazz Considered ‘Intimate’ Setting

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

At night under the stars with Town Jazz performersBy Marcia E. Gawecki

The first-ever Town Jazz event with Marshall Hawkins, a bassist who has played with the likes of Miles Davis, attracted about 250 attendees on Saturday night in Idyllwild, in spite of torrential rains and hail that dumped on the small mountain town hours before the event.

“It cooled things down, and we might get more people that we expect,” said Doug Yagaloff, from Mountain Harvest Market, one of the sponsors of the event.

He said the Idyllwild Round Table rented 500 chairs, just in case.

Tom and Karen Barnes from Arizona were walking around Idyllwild, and stopped at The Spruce Moose. A retired businessman and sax player, Tom came for the 18th Annual Jazz in the Pines event at Idyllwild Arts, but was also interested in learning more about Town Jazz.

Tom Barnes, a tenor sax player from Arizona, was interested in Town Jazz

“We’ve been coming to Jazz in the Pines since 1998,” Tom said. “But I’m interested in whatever Marshall Hawkins, who started the event, is doing.”

He thought the $10 ticket price was a good deal.

“I end up spending about $1,000 for this jazz weekend, including tickets, hotel stay, the patron dinner, and gas coming up from Arizona,” Tom said. “Ten dollars sounds pretty good.”

Although Saturday night was cool, and the stars were out, the jazz was hot. You could hear it from the streets.

Two friends of Marshall Hawkins’ came from Vista to support the event. One, a cellist who has played with Marshall onstage at Jazz in the Pines before, said that Town Jazz was a more intimate venue.

Kevin poses with Town Jazz T-shirts with Marshall Hawkins image, are available for $15 each.

“The musicians play very close to the audience,” the woman said. “You don’t have to get on a golf cart to get to the stage.”

Jeffrey Taylor, who owns Green Cafe internet, agreed that Town Jazz was more intimate.

“You can’t beat jazz at night under the stars,” he said.

Jessica Schiffman, a local book illustrator and volunteer for the evening, sat close to the stage and was impressed with the music.

“You can hear them performing their art, and you’re right there experiencing it with them,” she said.

She planned on volunteering the second night of Town Jazz, which will be held outside Jo’An’s on Sunday, August 28 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tonight’s special guests for Town Jazz honoring Daniel Jackson include Yve Evans, and Roland Esquire Holmes. Musicians include: Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet, Bob Boss on guitar, Brett Sanders on drums, Mikan Zlatkovich on piano, Najite, African percussion, and Daniel Jackson on tenor and sax.

Marshall Hawkins played his bass last night with the groupand will play again tonight. After the last set Saturday night, Marshall thanked the musicians and the crowd for coming.

Tickets for tonight’s performance are $10 each and can be purchased at Mountain Harvest Market, The Spruce Moose and at the door. Marshall Hawkins T-shirts are $15 each and full-color event posters are $5. All proceeds go to benefit Marshall’s charity for jazz in the elementary schools, Seacrest Mojo.

For more information on Marshall Hawkins’ Town Jazz event, visit www.greencafe.com.

Published on: Aug 28, 2011 @ 7:24