Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Craig Bailey and the U of M Youth Jazz Collective

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The U of M Youth Jazz Collective kicked off last year, with Derrick Gardner in the driver’s seat. The group of gifted high school jazz musicians from around the city met at the U of M once a week, learning new repertoire, discovering the intricacies of improvisation, and finessing their technique as ensemble players.

In the spring, they teamed up with the U of M Jazz Orchestra and a couple of high school bands for a terrific concert that proved to the packed house that jazz is alive and well—and relevant to the next generation of players.

Many of the musicians in that first incarnation of the U of M Youth Jazz Collective have become regulars at the Cool Wednesday Night Hang, not only sharing their enthusiasm for the music and refining their skills, but also taking their place in the jazz community. With auditions complete and a new Youth Jazz Collective beginning rehearsals in January, I anticipate a few new faces will join the crowd. It’s an exciting time!

This year, Derrick is passing the reins to saxophonist Craig Bailey, the artist-in-residence in the Jazz Studies program. Craig is warm and encouraging, but he also has high expectations. I caught up with him and asked about his vision for the U of M Youth Jazz Collective…

From Craig Bailey

First of all, my whole concept is to pass the torch of the burning desire to play jazz music throughout one’s musical life whether they pursue a career in music or not. It is a true joy to see the birth of a new aspiring jazz musician.

I want these young musicians to know how much of an honor and privilege it is to play jazz music. Through the music I am able to give these young minds the ability to think out of the box, apply discipline, communicate with one another, turn method into music, and most of all have fun while learning.

Music is a way for people to come out of their shell and express all their innermost thoughts and feelings through their instrument. I will support these exceptionally gifted young players to explore different genres of music using modern-day jazz techniques, and to discover together the history and traditions of this music.

The richest child is poor without music in their life. I plan on getting everyone in the youth collective to understand their value through the music. For me, the key words are challenge, learning, fun and feeling—the essentials of life. Music is life!

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