Dallas ISD was one of only four school districts nationwide selected this year to be provided free public school “peer-to-peer” concerts and workshops by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
With lead funding from Toyota, United Airlines and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute will present this unique education program in four Dallas public schools May 9-12. Combining performance with educational information, these “informances” will be presented by six of the country’s most gifted high school music students along with internationally acclaimed jazz trombonist and NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis, vocal sensation and former winner of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Vocals Competition Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. JB Dyas. Each school visit will include an assembly program featuring a musical performance for all students, followed by jazz workshops for each school’s jazz band and choir with the visiting student performers playing alongside and sharing ideas with their Texas counterparts.
“We’ve found that sometimes young people can learn about certain things better from kids their same age, and one of them is jazz,” said jazz great Herbie Hancock, Chairman of the Institute, NEA Jazz Master, and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “And when you hear how accomplished these musicians are at such a young age, you know their peers are going to listen.”
Besides playing jazz at a level that belies their years, the students will talk with their Dallas peers about what jazz is, why it’s important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. They also will discuss important American values that jazz represents: teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion early in life, being persistent, and believing in yourself. When young people hear this important message from kids their same age, they are often more likely to tune in.
The members of the all-star sextet selected nationwide to participate in the Texas tour include trumpeter Joey Curreri, 17, from Los Angeles; alto saxophonist Joseph Miller, 18, and tenor saxophonist Addias Armenteros, 18, from Miami; pianist Tyler Henderson, 16, and bassist Gus Allen, 17, from Houston; and drummer Brian Richburg, Jr., 17, from New Orleans. “Studying Mr. Marsalis’ music for the past couple of months has really been a lesson in jazz history,” said Curreri, a member of this year’s National GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensemble. “It encompasses everything from traditional New Orleans jazz to the most contemporary jazz of today.”
Immediately following the informances, Marsalis, Henry, and Dyas will conduct jazz workshops for each host school’s jazz band and choir in which the visiting students will play side-by-side with their Texas counterparts, providing tutelage peer to peer. In so doing, they will teach and learn from one another not unlike Thelonious Monk did with his fellow musicians during the bebop era some 70 years ago. They’ll also learn about each other’s cities and culture.
“I’m really looking forward to playing and talking with the students in Dallas,” said Armenteros, also a member of the 2017 National GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensemble. “I’m sure they can show me something about authentic Texas blues, and I can show them something about Miami salsa.”
The weeklong tour will include a performance open to the public on May 12 at Fort Worth’s premier jazz club, The Scat Lounge, 111 West 4th St., where Dallas/Fort Worth residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of music with Marsalis and Henry alongside jazz’s future “young lions.” The octet will perform standards, jazz classics, and contemporary jazz, including compositions from Marsalis’ and Henry’s latest recordings. Shows begin at 8:00 & 10:00 pm.
For further information, call 817-870-9100 or visit www.scatlounge.com.