Our Jazz Ensemble I rhythm section served as a demonstration group at the WMEA Conference this past week. Presenter Jerry Tolson did a session on Rhythm Section techniques and had our students demonstrate for educators in attendance.
Students also worked with Jerry in a masterclass at school both to prepare for the session and to develop some of their own skills as individual players and as a group!
We are fortunate to welcome Ron Carter back to Sun Prairie to work with students. Professor Carter got everyone singing and dancing and dealt with our foundation of swing.
Jazz Bands form Beloit and Sun Prairie met for an evening of Jazz in Beloit on Sunday. Groups were able to meet and great and participate in a Jam Session followed by each group playing an hour set for each other. The Grand Finale put both bands together as they made up a Riff Blues by ear.
Both Beloit and Sun Prairie are finalist bands for EE and will be heading out to New York next week!
Our preparation for EE out in New York includes bringing a bit of EE into our area! Today we were visited by Pharez Whitted, who help us with our preparations for the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York. Pharez stressed the importance of believing in ourselves and each other. He challenged us to find new levels of musical emotion and he provide some great inspiration and direction to get better.
As a part of our clinic experience, we get to share Pharez with a partner school. We were honored to partner with Madison La Follete High School and their director Jamie Kember. Pharez worked with their jazz band on improvisation and provided time for students to ask questions and grow from his expertise as well.
Pharez is a Chicago-based trumpet player and educator. He is the current director of the Chicago Symphony Youth Jazz Orchestra. If you asked Pharez what inspires his music, he’ll say that the world needs hope and beauty and his compositions were created for that purpose. His music is for the people, to lift them up and inspire beautiful thoughts and a harmonious vibe throughout the Universe. One love, one Universal voice.
For 30 years the Sun Prairie Jazz Festival has been inspiring student musicians. February 18, 2023 was a celebration of both the history and future of this festival. Clinicians included Michael Brenneis - drums, Katie Ernst - bass, Dave Hammond - drums, Kellin Hanas, trumpet, Steve Horne - trombone, Jim Piela- saxophone, Marty Robinson - trumpet, Chris, Rottmayer - piano, Lauren Sevian - saxophone, Reggie Thomas - piano, Dan Wallach - saxophone. 16 bands and over 350 students joined us from Sun Prairie, Brookfield, Columbus, Concord, Il, Fond du Lac, Menomonee Falls, Middleton, Waunakee, and West DePere.