Posts Tagged ‘scat’

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