Posts Tagged ‘Marshall Hawkins’

Evening Jazz Event to Benefit Elementary Students

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Town Jazz will help bring music back to elementary schools

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Marshall Hawkins, a bassist who heads up the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts Academy, has long been the face of Jazz in the Pines, an annual two-day jazz event that has grown in popularity each year.

Now, Marshall is lending his image and musical charisma to an evening jazz event next weekend, Aug. 27 and 28.

“Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” will likely bring more business to Idyllwild shopkeepers, while helping to bring more music to elementary schools through Marshall’s charity, Seahawk MOJO.

“I’m bringing some of the best jazz musicians from all of Southern California,” Marshall said. “It’s going to be a really great event.”

“Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” will be held for two evenings at JoAn’s Restaurant, in the center of Idyllwild, so there is no conflict with the Jazz in the Pines concert held during the day on the Idyllwild Arts campus.

Town Jazz’s lineup on Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28, is impressive. These musicians will honor Graham Dechter on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and honor Daniel Jackson on Sunday, Aug. 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Daniel Jackson (tenor/sax), Gilbert Castellanos (trumpet), Bob Boss (guitar), Brett Sanders (drums), Mikan Zlatkovich (piano) and Roy Gonzales (Latin percussion on Sat.) and Najite (African percussion on Sun.). Special guests both evenings include Yve Evans and Roland “Esquire” Holmes.

Naturally, Marshall will play both nights, and is excited about this first-ever event, mainly because it’s going to help to bring music to young people in the schools.

“Seahawk MOJO, is an acronym that stands for Seahawk Modern Jazz Orchestra,” Marshall explained.

Because he was out of town and pressed for time, he sent a letter explaining Seahawk MOJO’s mission. It started with a great need to put music education back into the elementary schools.

“Few Americans need to be reminded of the long-term damage caused by the removal of arts education, including music, from the curriculum in our public schools,” Marshall wrote. “Jazz education teaches a ‘universal language’ that can serve as a tool for personal, social and economic empowerment. It’s a language that expresses the ironies of our American democracy, especially for the disenfranchised, with humor, joy, boundless artistry, and imagination.”

Doug Yagaloff believes 'Town Jazz' will help local shopkeepers

During this event, Seahawk MOJO is operating under its parent non-profit organization, the Idyllwild Master Chorale. Marshall has long played bass for the Master Chorale events, including their Messiah program.

Although the next generation of jazz musicians will benefit from this “Town Jazz” event, another group set to benefit: Idyllwild shopkeepers, innkeepers and restauranteurs. The Idyllwild Business Roundtable and the Idyllwild Chamber of Commerce are managing the business end of the “Town Jazz” event, namely sending out promotion, bringing in volunteers, and managing the two-evening event.

“Town Jazz is going to bring back jazz to the town of Idyllwild,” said Doug Yagaloff, who co-owns Mountain Harvest Market in Strawberry Plaza. “Too often, business owners have been left out of the Jazz in the Pines weekend. We don’t hear the music and business revenue goes down, so this year, we’re going to reverse course.”

Doug spoke frankly about Idyllwild business owners wanting to be part of Jazz in the Pines weekend.

“There are three categories of people that we want to reach that weekend: those who come for the concert and stay overnight and might eat dinner in town. There are those who come for the day to hear a specific jazz musician, but leave immediately afterwards. Then there are the locals, who may like jazz music, but the $65 daily price ticket is out of their reach.”

Town Jazz, at $10 a ticket, can appeal to all of these groups. It offers a nice musical lineup outside JoAn’s restaurant in the center of town. Seating, drinks, food and bathrooms are provided by JoAn’s. The Business Roundtable rented 300 extra chairs, and expect to attract 400 to 500 people for the two-day event.

Ticket sales cover costs for the musicians, while everyone else is volunteering their efforts, Doug said. He estimates it will cost about $4,000 to put on the Town Jazz event. He hopes to recoup those expenses in ticket, T-shirts and poster sales.

Cafe Aroma, which also features jazz musicians during Jazz in the Pines weekend, fully supports the efforts of Town Jazz, Doug said.

“Frank and Hubert think there’s enough jazz for all of Idyllwild that weekend,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Doug said that Idyllwild Arts Associates, the nonprofit group that hosts Jazz in the Pines, is supporting Marshall’s “Town Jazz”


T-shirts, with Marshall's image, will be sold for $13 and $15

“They came and spoke with us at our Business Roundtable, and we’re also hosting a booth at their event,” Doug said. “Everything’s cool.”

Tickets for “Town Jazz with Marshall Hawkins” are $10 each, and can be purchased at Mountain Harvest Market and the Spruce Moose. T-shirts with Marshall’s image, will be available for sale starting Friday, Aug. 26, for $13 each/$15 for larger sizes.

For more information on the event, visit

Published on: Aug 19, 2011 @ 1:49 E




Final Jazz Concert Tuesday Night

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Caleb on trumpet will be one of the players at the Final Jazz Concert tonight

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Tonight, the Idyllwild Arts Jazz Department will showcase their final concert at 7:30 p.m.  It will be the culmination of a year of many successes for the tight-knit, talented group.

“We’re listening to a great jazz performance by high school kids,” you have to keep pinching yourself.  It’s always is comparable to any professional jazz concert.

The start of their Big Year came last fall, actually. Jacob, a saxophone and flute player, was featured on the back cover of the annual “Jazz in the Pines” program. Then he and Caleb, a trumpet player, took the stage with Marshall Hawkins, head of the jazz department, to play a few numbers.

“We always love to be onstage,” Jacob said.

It was also a good way to show the folks that attended the jazz fest that their scholarship money was going to help talented youth like Jacob and Caleb.

Then came Master Class jam sessions with friends of Marshall’s, attending jazz concerts off the hill, and entering jazz contests, where they almost always leave with the top prize.

As a sax player, Jacob won many awards this year. Marshall Hawkins on bass in background.

Jacob made it to the Semifinals of the 2011 Spotlight Music Awards, where winners get to strengthen their audition and performance skills. He also won second place in the “Student Jazz Competition” in Ventura. On May 5, Jacob also got to perform with Earth, Wind & Fire’s trumpet player in front of a live audience.

Caleb also walked away with a medal and title of “Trumpet Player of the Year” at a jazz competition in Reno in March. The Idyllwild Arts jazz group won third prize that time.

However, at another jazz competition in Boston, they took first prize. (Yet, these cats are too cool to mention it!)

Alejandro, Ashi, Inigo and Eddie, recently joined Scarlett, the director to record the soundtrack for “Penelope,” one of the year’s student films that will be released next weekend. The jazz group worked for several hours for pepperoni pizza.

“It’s all about the experience,” Alejandro said of the recording session with his friends. “We would’ve done it for nothing.”

I know that I’m leaving out a lot of other jazz accolades and accomplishments. (Most of the information I garner for my blog stories come from driving these students around, and talking to them. But they have a favorite driver who takes them everywhere, so I have to gather information when and where I can).

But I do know that Jacob, Caleb, and Lake all got to play with “Season 10 American Idol” heartthrob and jazz bass player Casey Abrams at Cafe Aroma many times before he became nationally famous. My favorite picture of all of them  is a back shot of them playing at night on the deck. It was taken by someone at Cafe Aroma. They look hip, happy and wise beyond their youth.

(from L) Marshall, Lake and Caleb performing at Lake's recital.

So, in other words, the final jazz concert tonight, with these talented jazz students will be beyond any jam session that you’ve ever attended. More than likely, Marshall Hawkins and Paul Carman will be playing along with them (like proud parents).

The place will be packed, so get there early. It all starts at 7:30 p.m. at Stephens Recital Hall located at the end of Tollgate Road. It’s free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Photos courtesy Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 24, 2011 @ 15:14

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Hilarious Take on “Peter and the Wolf”

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

When Harry Shearer narrates and plays, laughter follows

By Marcia E. Gawecki

When Idyllwild Arts announced that Harry Shearer, the master of comic voices, would be narrating their first orchestra concert of the year, “Peter and the Wolf,” you knew it wouldn’t be ordinary, but hilariously extraordinary. The student orchestra stuck to Prokofiev’s 1936 music script, but Shearer turned the narrating part on its ear.

“That’s not the ‘Peter and the Wolf’ that I grew up with,” some of the music students said before yesterday’s (Saturday, Oct. 16) 4 p.m. concert during Family Weekend. “I don’t even recognize the words anymore.”

Without giving too much away for those who plan to attend today’s 2 p.m. concert, Shearer, who does most of the ‘Simpsons’ voices, turned Prokofiv’s masterpiece into a CNN “The Situation Room” news story. Affable talk show host, Larry King, from “Larry King Live” and tightly-wound newscasters Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper told the story in hindsight.

Peter Askim introducing Shearer and the IA orchestra

Standing at a lit podium next to the conductor dressed in a pinstriped suit and red tennis shoes, Shearer set the stage with the one-liner, “I was going to sing the last piece, but I lost the coin flip.”

He was referring to “The Marriage of Figaro,” aria just sung by Samuel, a barritone at Idyllwild Arts.

After introducing the cast of characters and their instruments, Shearer’s Larry King introduced Wolf Blitzer (no relation to the wolf), who said there were no eyewitnesses to the story that just happened in a meadow.

“A meadow?” Larry King asked.

“Yes, a meadow, Larry,” Wolf replied. “Like a big, green space.”

When Wolf said that the bird was a friend of Peter’s, Larry quipped, “A friend with birds? Peter is a special kind of kid, isn’t he?”

There was perfect synchonicity between Shearer's narrating & Askim's orchestra

The Larry King and Wolf Blitzer back and forth banter from “The Situation Room” had the audience giggling and laughing out loud.

“Here’s where it gets messy, Larry,” Wolf said, retelling the argument between the bird and the duck.

“I always find duck to be messy,” Larry said.

Later on in the show, Shearer introduced another CNN newscaster, Anderson Cooper, who tells them how the grandfather finds Peter in the meadow, brings him back home and locks the gate.

Shearer’s mimicking of these well-known voices is dead-on. No kidding, you swear that you have your TV on during the concert.

When the gray wolf appeared, the duck squawked loudly and got out of the water, Wolf announced.

“Why would she do that?” Larry asked. “A duck is no match in a foot race with a wolf.”

“The lack of any feathers showed that the wolf swallowed the duck whole,” Wolf announced.

“I prefer the breast,” Larry replied, one of Shearer’s many references to Larry King’s high-profile divorces.

Throughout all of this comedic sketches, the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, under the direction of Peter Askim, provided professional-level classical music. Even Shearer said so.

Samuel, a baritone, sang an aria from "The Marriage of Figaro"

“What a thrill it’s been to be playing along with these wonderfully talented musicians,” Shearer said. “I’m not in the same league, or even in the same game.”

After “Peter and the Wolf,” Shearer, who is also a musician, played a bass duet with Marshall Hawkins, head of the Idyllwild Arts Jazz Department. It was a song from his group, Spinal Tap, that was rearranged for a solo with an upright bass.

Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra’s final concert of “Peter and the Wolf,” with the affable Harry Shearer, will be held at 2 p.m. today (Sunday, Oct. 17) in the Bowman Arts Building on campus. It’s free and open to the public, but you might want to come early to get a seat.

For more information, call Idyllwild Arts at (951) 659-2171 or visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Idyllwild Jazz Fest = Student Scholarships

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

A photo of Jacob, a jazz scholarship student, was featured on the program

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Many of the jazz enthusiasts who attended last weekend’s Jazz in the Pines event didn’t know it was a scholarship fundraiser (although it was clearly written on all of the promotional materials).

“Ticket prices are a little high,” said one attendee from San Diego of the $60 entry fee. “Other jazz fests like the one in Monterey only charge $35 to get in, but it’s a great being up here in the mountains.”

When she was told by another attendee that the money raised from the jazz fest went to student scholarships for the Idyllwild Arts Academy, she was impressed.

“Well, that’s different,” she said. “There’s a lot of talented kids out there who can’t afford to go to a good school. If my ticket today helps them get there, I’m all for it.”

At least three scholarship students performed live at this year’s Jazz in the Pines event, including Jacob on sax, Caleb on trumpet and Connor on trombone. Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts, always invites his Idyllwild Arts jazz students (and some classical students) to play with his band, the Harry Pickens Trio.

Not only did they play with him on Sunday, August 29, but he showed them off to the crowd.

“The students were playing in the back, and he brought them up front and center, and made them play some solos,” explained one jazz fan from Palm Springs. “Poor kids, they were put on the spot, but they did great!”

She said that she saw Jacob afterwards while waiting in line for the shuttle, and asked him if he was nervous about being singled out.

Little did the fans know, but Jacob, Caleb and Connor, had been practicing all summer for that very moment in the spotlight.

Caleb was a teacher’s assistant during one of the summer school sessions at Idyllwild Arts. Jose, who lived in the same dorm and heard him play at concerts, was impressed with his dedication.

“We’d see him in the mornings, and after dinner,” explained Jose. “All the time in between, he was practicing his horn.”

Jacob knew that he’d be playing at the jazz fest when school ended last June.

“Come and hear me play at the Jazz Fest,” he told his friends and teachers.

In fact, a photo of Jacob was featured on a full page advertisement on the back of the jazz fest program. It showed him intently playing his sax.

“I was really surprised when someone pointed it out to me,” Jacob said. “That’s really cool!”

Connor, who lives in Palm Springs, and spent his summer tutoring grade school music students in his dad’s office, was also ready for his solo at the jazz fest.

For them, to be in front of a live audience, especially one that understands and appreciates jazz, was quite the thrill. For most of the year, they play before select audiences made up of friends and faculty.

Mariya, a classical bass player who had a four-year scholarship to Idyllwild Arts, also played with Marshall Hawkins at the Jazz in the Pines last year.

“It was a good experience playing before a live audience,” Mariya said. “But it got a little cold in the shade. My fingers were frozen.”

Since then, Mariya graduated and earned a full scholarship to The Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. She hopes to come back and play with the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra as a “ringer” (a professional player) sometime this year.

“We’re coming back!” Jacob shouted as he walked along Tollgate to his car after the show. “Caleb and I are coming back here for our senior year!”

Ticket sales at Jazz in the Pines 2010 must’ve been good this year.

Hefty Jazz & Classical Recital

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Kathryn belts out a jazz ballad (at another event) while Hawkins plays bass

By Marcia E. Gawecki

For one fun-filled evening, audience members were treated to a hefty dose of jazz and then classical music. Monday, May 10, was the senior recitals for Kathryn, a jazz vocalist, and Rich, a classical pianist, in Stephens Recital Hall at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Kathryn’s roster of 10 songs included jazz standards, classical rock and some blues.

Dressed in a slinky over-the-shoulder short, black dress and a red flower in her hair, Kathryn looked like the ultimate showman. But looks were disceiving.

“She was really nervous before the recital,” said Marshall Hawkins, head of the Jazz Department at Idyllwild Arts. “But I wouldn’t hear none of it. I knew she was going to be fine.”

Kathryn’s first song was “Stepping Out” by Irving Berlin. She sang a duet with Everett, a classical vocals major.  They had fun and chemistry onstage, and the loud applause afterwards gave Schmidt the confidence that kept building until her last song.

For her next tune, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” by Cole Porter , Kathryn was by herself onstage. Just a guitar and microphone.

“I like doing acustical work,” Kathryn had said earlier in the day. “Sometimes, it’s just nice being out there by yourself.”

When she started “Use Somebody,” a popular rock song by Kings of Leon, Won Bin, shouted out, “I love this song!”

Kathryn played it slower than the popular version, but with just her guitar, and for the first time, we understood all of the lyrics.

By her fourth song, “Maybe,” Kathryn brought on her fellow jazz mates, including Hallie on vocals and piano; Mint on electric guitar; Alejandro on bass guitar and Nate on drums.

“‘Private Lawns,’ by independent artists A & J Stone, is one of my favorites,” Kathryn said as an introduction. And by the time she was done, it was one of ours too. She introduced two musical soloists, Jacob on flute and Caleb on trumpet.

“I just blew in from Chicago, where they have private lawns and public parks,” were the jazzy lyrics.

Grant Park, one of Chicago’s more famous public parks, features a free, four-day jazz concert each Labor Day Weekend. Residents pile in from the neighborhoods and suburbs all dying to hear the jazz greats. Some famous performers include Miles Davis, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Broxton, Lionel Hampton,  Betty Carter and Jimmy Dawkins, among others.

For her next song, Kathryn switched to rock n’ roll with the Rolling Stones’ classic, “Wild Horses.” You have to give her credit for taking on such a popular song for the Baby Boomer generation. At first when I heard the lyrics, all I could hear was Mick Jagger’s low voice, and Keith Richards’ electric guitar. But then I settled in and accepted Schmidt’s soprano voice and standard guitar.

For the next few songs, Kathryn went out of sequence from the playbill. For “Oreo Cookie Blues,” she sang a duet with Mint and her electric guitar. It was a fun, little song that made the favorite cream-filled sandwich cookie a bit sexy.

“I’ve got the chocolate cream-filled cookie blues,” Kathryn wailed. “It gets me higher than I get on booze. I couldn’t quit if I wanted to!”

(from L) Jacob on sax and Caleb on trumpet got some solo time at Kathryn's gig

The next tune, “Lift Me Up,” Kathryn said it was a Christine Aguilera song that she sang at a “Hope for Haiti” benefit. She played it with Hallie, and it was a slow, love ballad. “Just get me through the night,” she pleaded to an unseen lover.

For “Orange Colored Sky,” Kathryn brought on the entire jazz band, including Mint on electric guitar; Alejandro on bass; Nate on drums; Jacob on alto sax; Anthony on tenor sax, Hallie on piano and Caleb on trumpet.

With that many jazzmen on stage, one would think that they’d easily drown Schmidt out, but she held her own.

“I talked to them (the musicians) about it,” Hawkins said after the show. “You never want to drown out your singer.”

For her final number, Schmidt sang Aretha Franklin’s anthem, “Respect,” and brought the house down. She added backup vocalists Amenta and Allison, who “wooped” and danced and made everything fun. The interesting part is that Amenta is a theater major and Allison is a visual artist. Who knew that they could sing?

“It wasn’t happening for me at rehearsal,” Anthony confessed later. “But when Amenta and Allison showed up during the show, they really brought a lot of energy that we played into.”

By this time, Kathryn was in her groove. She grabbed the microphone from the stand and started walking around, and “talked” to the drummer Nate with her “doo, doo, doo’s.” She looked like the ultimate jazz showman.

When the Aretha anthem was over, everyone was on their feet, clapping and cheering. And Kathryn walked away with an armload of five bouquets.

For Rich’s review, look to the separate article, “Classical Piano Recital.”

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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