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High School Musicians Give Their Own Lesson In Jazz

High school music students hung with the best in jazz for a joint Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (HHIJ) and U.S. Department of Education performance on April 19.

Hosted by U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona, the peer-to-peer jazz “informance,” a combination of performance and educational information, featured five talented musicians from high schools in Baltimore and the District.

HHIJ Chairman Herbie Hancock, a 14-time Grammy Award-winning jazz legend, opened the event with a video greeting after which the student Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quintet got things started, playing a 1962 Hancock classic, “Driftin.’”

The members of the student quintet included: alto saxophonists Ebban Dorsey and Quinn Rehkemper from the Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA); tenor saxophonist Elijah Woodward and pianist Jose Andre Montano from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in the District; and drummer Jillian Upshaw from Jackson-Reed High School, formerly Woodrow Wilson High School.

One student from the District spoke about his attraction to jazz.

“For me, it exemplifies a sense of freedom — to create instead of conforming to one specific genre,” Elijah said. “I can transcend all the genres of music.”

When talking about his family’s continued support, the high school senior, who has been accepted by 19 colleges, said, “Once I officially started playing saxophone and once I figured out that I wanted to play jazz, they supported me every step.”

Dr. J.B. Dyas, vice president for education and curriculum development at the HHIJ, led a short “informance” lesson. With the help of the talented youth quintet, the audience received a firsthand look at how musicians build a composition that includes specific notes with room for improvisation.

Dyas noted that jazz, which counts as an American creation, now belongs to the world of music…. (continues)

Click here for full article. (Washington Informer)


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