Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gettin' after it.

Leroy and I attended the benefit jazz concert for saxophonist/composer Andrew D'Angelo at Roosevelt High School tonight. Listening to the jazz band took us out of space and time.

My reaction was similar to most concerts I attended when James played bass trombone for four years in that band. It is amazing -- but not surprising --that young people can understand and interpret and improvise music so clearly. Scott Brown, the band's director, teaches his students about collaboration, about listening to one another, about taking one's turn. He insists upon something very close to perfection through countless rehearsals. He's the reason that these kids care so deeply about how well they play and how as a group they inspire one another to play better. As a musician himself, he models the behavior and the artistry he expects from his team.

James grew as a musician and as a person being part of both the Eckstein Middle School Jazz Band (Mr. E.) and the Roosevelt Jazz Band (Mr. Brown). In those years, he played Lincoln Center four years running in the "Essentially Ellington" competitions. He became a world traveler, traveling with the band to locations like New Orleans, Mazatlan, China, the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreax Jazz Festival, and concerts in to-die-for locations like Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and the San Sebastian Jazz Festival in Spain.

It was nice to see a new group of jazz band members playing to that same standard of excellence that Mr. Brown brings out in each successive band. Tonight's concert included an Ellington piece (it's the Duke's birthday today), followed by "Urban Jungle," then one commissioned by last year's graduating band ("Roo Tune?"). The band finished with an astounding arrangement of Bob Marley's "War." I hope that the event raised a lot of money for Andrew D'Angelo's medical treatments, past and future.

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