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AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Jazz festivals tend to have a standard format of live and fringe concerts featuring top of the line vocalists and musicians. The Queen’s Royal College Foundation created the T&T SteelPan and Jazz Festival (TTSJF), which has added several new dimensions to the basic jazz festival model. In 2002 the TTSJF took the decision to include an educational component of music workshops for young aspirants, moderated by some of the finest players of jazz and steelpan music. The title sponsor embraced this new concept, and enthusiastically agreed to support what is now called, the First Citizens Developmental Workshops for Young Musicians. This free music instruction series, provides invaluable opportunities for the ambitious youth, to interact and study with local and international professional musicians, many of them faculty members and graduates of tertiary level music institutions, Grammy Award nominees, and members/players with some of the best acts in the industry.
The 2013 workshops will again be led by trumpeter Charlie Sepulveda, professor in Latin Jazz standards and Afro-Cuban music at Puerto Rico’s Conservatory of Music in San Juan. Assisting Sepulveda, as he did last year, is his longstanding bassist Gabriel Rodriquez, a lecturer at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. Rodriquez has written educational columns for the Canadian Global Bass and Argentina’s 44Mgz magazines, and has authored a manual for the development of harmony and technique. Making his debut as an assistant will be Canada’s Jeff Gunn, creator of Hidden Sounds: Discover Your Own Guitar Method video series, and musical director for African hip-hop, star/activist Emmanuel Jal. The local assistants comprise three of TT’s most accomplished musicians: Natasha Joseph, award winning pannist, bandleader of Caribbean-jazz group Elan Parle, Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung, singer/songwriter/musician and producer Keithson-Jon Cruikshank.
Past facilitators have also been as impressive, such as veteran drummer Louis Hayes of the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band; Delaware-based vibraphonist Joe Baione, keyboardist Jeremy Ledbetter and Cuban born trumpeter Alexis Baró, both of the Toronto based Caribbean Latin-jazz collective CaneFire, as well as Trinidad-born bassist David “Happy” Williams, steelpan virtuoso Robert Greenidge and pianist Orville Wright, former chairman, Ensemble Department, Berklee College of Music. Participation, which is open to all students, has achieved totals in excess of 450, and this year the format of the workshops include, improvisation lessons, and the correct methodology for playing music in ensembles, after which, each attendee will receive a personalised certificate of participation.
On October 26, the series culminates in a free, invitation-only Youth in Music Concert featuring student ensembles performing with their instructors, at Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain. Young musicians interested in participating are encouraged to register online at http://www.steelpanjazzfestival.com/events/workshops.html The Grand Finale of the Festival is the finals of the International Steelpan Jazz Challenge, on October 27 at Queen’s Hall. Now in its third year, the newest addition to the festival, is open to 12 piece ensembles, consisting of a mix of steelpan and conventional instruments, or steelpan only, playing Caribbean music in a jazz genre. Heavy competition is anticipated for last year’s winners, Codrington Pan Family, from J Major Jazz, Golden Hands, UTT, Courts Sound Specialist of Laventille, Moyenne, Tamana Pioneers, Sadiki Sticks on Steel, Witco Desperadoes, TT Police Service Jazz, Fusion Steel and White Oak Starlift. Adjudicators for the challenge are Dr Dawn Batson and Ron Reid. Bands will be vying for prizes of $100,000, $50,000, $30,000 for first to third places, and $25,000 for fourth to eighth place.
Developmental Workshop sessions
Venue: Malabar North Community Facility, Arima
Venue: Bon Air West Community Facility Arouca
Venue: Lions’ Cultural Centre, Port-of-Spain
Young musicians interested in participating are encouraged to register online at http://www.steelpanjazzfestival.com/events/workshops.html
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