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PPS Students To Workshop with Jazz Greats

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PPS Students To Workshop with Jazz Greats
Posted on 05/21/2019
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Portland Public Schools students will benefit when the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz brings its Peer-to-Peer jazz education program to Maine this month, assisted by lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Portland Public Schools is one of just five school districts nationwide selected to be provided with this national jazz education program. School districts in New Hampshire and Vermont also will benefit.

Combining performance with educational information, “informances” will be presented  at Portland High School and Deering High School 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.

Informances, concerts and workshops will take place Thursday, May 23, at Portland High School, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and on Friday, May 24, at Deering High School, from from 10:45 a.m. to 12:25 p.m.

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.”

The members of the all-star quintet selected from high schools 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.

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.

Immediately following the quintet’s 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 Maine 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 bandmates over the past half century. Students also will learn about other cities and cultures.

The weeklong tour will conclude with two public performances on Saturday, May 25, at Portland jazz club Blue (located at 650A Congress St.), where the community is 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. Shows begin at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. For more information call 207-774-4111 or visit https://portcityblue.com.

For more detailed information about the peer-to-peer program and these events from the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, click HERE.