Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


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The Young Jazz Player: An Unexpected Journey

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To the general public, a seventeen-year-old kid who is genuinely enthused and inspired about this thing called jazz may be a strange and confusing phenomenon. Perhaps it’s the fact that jazz musicians don’t study through a widely-recognized conservatory—although I personally have, and for me conservatory training has no negative connotations whatsoever. Or perhaps it’s the unfortunate reality that young jazz musicians often have to sneak into lounges to hear the music that we love, played by the people that we would eventually love to be able to play it with.

Point is, throughout the short period of time I have been alive, I have been truly inspired by the vast world of music that can be found within the genre of jazz. For me, the most infatuating part of this music is the idea of improvisation. Listening to players develop beautiful melodies off the top of their heads fascinates me. As a bass player, I’m thinking of people like Dave Holland and Reuben Rogers. Furthermore, I’ve always found it interesting to listen to great jazz players communicating with one another through the music and their own improvised ideas, simply because improvisation can take the music, the player and the listener anywhere, at any time. In essence, that is why I am simply in love with this music.

As a young player, I think it’s incredibly important to always be working towards the level of greatness that our idols have achieved, if only so we can give to someone else what so many have given to us. For me (again, as a bassist) the intangible pocket that Ray Brown seems to constantly live in, or the sheer levels of insanity found in the virtuosic playing of Christian McBride are just a couple of musical instances that help to ignite that indescribable drive that keeps us improving. Additionally, I think it’s important to be able to put yourself in many different playing situations that allow you to experience these infinitely expanding horizons in new, innovative ways—increasingly, that’s what this music is about.

Winnipeg is actually quite a great place for all this. World-class players (who will happily invite you onto their bandstands and into their homes) combined with a pool of other young and inspired players (who I am lucky enough to be working with in the U of M’s Youth Jazz Collective, and in my own rock/jazz group Kobalt) are just a few ways to keep yourself motivated.

In closing, I think the point of all of the hours spent practicing, transcribing and practicing some more can be summed up perfectly with a quote from Miles Davis: “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” If I was the kind of person who put quotes on walls, I would definitely choose that one


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