Weeklong series of events includes two performances open to the public at Blue in Portland, Maine on May 25
Washington, DC – With lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz will bring its Peer-to-Peer jazz education program to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine public schools May 20-25. Combining performance with educational information, these “informances” will be presented by five of the country’s most gifted high school music students along with internationally acclaimed trumpet recording artist Sean Jones, Kansas City jazz and blues vocalist and a former winner of the Institute’s International Jazz 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 workshops for each school’s jazz band and choir with the visiting student performers playing alongside and sharing ideas with their New England counterparts.
“We’ve found that young people often learn about certain things better from kids their same age, and one of those 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 New England 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 listen.
The members of the all-star quintet selected nationwide to participate in the New England tour include alto saxophonist Jalin Shiver from Newark; tenor saxophonist Sasha Ripley and pianist Tyler Henderson from Houston; bassist Dario Bizio from Los Angeles; and drummer Jeremiah Collier from Chicago. “It has been both a joy and a real challenge working on Mr. Jones’ compositions the past couple of months,” said Henderson, who recently performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC along with Hancock and other jazz greats. “He’s definitely one of today’s top modern jazz artists, but always with reverence to the swing and bebop traditions.”
Immediately following the informances, Jones, 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 Vermont, New Hampshire, and Portland counterparts, providing tutelage peer to peer. In so doing, they will teach and learn from one another not unlike what Herbie Hancock did with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, and so many other eminent band mates over the past half century. They’ll also learn about each other’s cities and cultures.
“I’m really looking forward to talking to and playing jazz with the students on the other side of the country,” added Bizio, who also recently performed at the Kennedy Center. “Whether it’s East Coast or West Coast, jazz is jazz.”
The weeklong tour will conclude with two performances open to the public on May 25 at Portland’s premier jazz club, Blue (650A Congress St.), where Portland residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of music with Jones and Henry alongside jazz’s future “young lions.” The septet will perform standards, jazz classics, and contemporary jazz, including compositions from Jones’ and Henry’s latest recordings. The shows begin at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm. For further information call 207-774-4111 or visit https://portcityblue.com.
Learn more about the Institute’s Peer-to-Peer program.