guests to join jazz students at year-end concert in Pittsburg
For the Contra Costa Times
— When some of East Contra Costa's premier student jazz musicians play
their opening notes at Los Medanos College's year-end all-star jazz concert
Saturday, they'll be in good company.
concert, showcasing the jazz ensembles from Los Medanos and Brentwood's
Heritage High School, also will feature four internationally acclaimed jazz
artists who call the Bay Area home.
are bassist Marcus Shelby, guitarist Mimi Fox, pianist and founder/director of
Berkeley's Jazzschool Susan Muscarella and vocalist Jamie Davis, who may be
best known for singing with the Count Basie Orchestra.
going to be incredible," said Michael Zilber, director of the Los Medanos
jazz program and conductor of the 25-member ensemble.
students agree. Steve Ernest, who conducts the 23-member Heritage jazz
ensemble, said his students' "eyes got big" when they heard the news,
and they immediately went into preparation mode.
Most of the
region's high school jazz ensembles have been invited to play with LMC's over
the years. This time around, Heritage's availability best fit the schedule.
very cool," Ernest said. "One of my guitar players said, 'Mimi Fox is
going to be there?' and she had a huge smile on her face."
heads the guitar department at the Jazzschool in Berkeley and is an adjunct
professor at New York University, said she embraces the chance to mentor young
musicians, particularly girls.
she grew up at a time when women were largely limited to singing jazz, not
playing instruments, and she didn't have many female role models to look up to.
the years have gone on, (mentoring) has become something that really is
important to me," said Fox, who also conducts college workshops when she
goes on tour. "Obviously, I like spreading the gospel of jazz; I like
seeing kids turned on to the music."
professional musicians to LMC has become more common in the past few years,
Zilber said. That's when the program's emphasis shifted significantly toward
hiring player-teachers as part-time faculty. Today, the jazz program has six
part-time professors and one working full time, Zilber.
many of the music faculty members are active in the Bay Area jazz scene, they
have the connections to bring musicians like Saturday's guests to campus. So
far, Zilber estimated that 10 professional musicians have played concerts with
LMC students and faculty members.
At a time
when budget cuts at all levels of education have put the arts on the chopping
block, Zilber said it's more important than ever to recognize the lifelong
benefits music can have for youths.
evidence is overwhelming that students who play musical instruments far
outperform students who don't at every level of school," Zilber said.
"It helps with language, math, teamwork, teaches you to get along with
people. Many of the desirable traits that we want in our society, you learn
there's the impact jazz, in particular, has had on culture around the world, he
music and art professors say jazz is the single most important contribution the
United States has made in the world. Our influence on the world has been felt
more strongly through jazz and blues and rock 'n' roll than anything else we
have done," he said.
IF YOU GO
Year-end all-star jazz concert featuring the Heritage High School Jazz Ensemble
and Los Medanos College Jazz Ensemble
- WHEN: 7-10
p.m. Saturday, May 15, 2010
- WHERE: Los
Medanos College, 2700 E. Leland Road, Pittsburg
- COST: $10
general admission; $5 students and seniors. For details and tickets, call
925-439-0200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUESTS: Marcus Shelby, Susan Muscarella, Jamie Davis, Mimi Fox