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SMC Senior Jazz Combo Swings South for the NZSM Jazz Project

To do music, you have to pour everything you are into it’, educates world renowned, and Hall of Fame inducted Jazz Fusion drummer, Dave Weckl.

Jazz and it’s other well-known brother, the Blues, as musical history has it, have much to do with the artists of today – and those modern, contemporary jams we choose to put on replay.

Believed to have originated in New Orleans, U.S.A. the genre of music has certainly come a long way, evolving from the basic swing to those smooth cafe grooves we drink our coffee to, and believe it or not, hip-hop and rap sensation Kendrick Lamar. Of course never forgetting, the smooth jazz artist the world cannot help but fall for, the great Frank Sinatra.

Jazz has had a long history in the life of music, in it’s purest form, jazz is said to represent the ‘soul’ of the musician himself, after all – as it is known, the greatest kind of jazz is played ‘on the fly’.

In respect to this wonderful art form, our own SMC Senior Jazz Combo set out south, from the familiar warmth of Auckland to the infamously windswept harbour city of New Zealand, Wellington. In hope of garnering new found experiences, knowledge and techniques in the legendary genre, the aspiring young pupils reached out for the stars.

Nestled in and amongst the bustling network of damp winter streets, shops and nightlights lies the Wellington Opera House, comfortingly reminiscent of the ‘fabulous 50s’ with its broadway-esque velvet curtains and proscenium stage – fitting accoutrements for a night out in jazz fever.

Upon entering the threshold of the theatre, the students were greeted with ‘peppy’ chatter amongst fellow young musicians and jazz enthusiasts seeking to gain some insight from Mr. Weckl or simply hear him obliterate ‘the skins’ (drums), decisively I must add, but that would be saved for a later, more thrilling event nevertheless.

Following an insightful advice-giving session from Dave and some ‘questions, queries and answers’, the crowd was given an invigorating teaser of what’s to come in the upcoming concert; which to say the least was an adventure of solos, vocal and instrumental prowess.

Santana vocalist Tony Lindsay was also featured in the performance, and he was most certainly present.

There may be no other phrase to define such a closing night other than, ‘Lights, camera, music!’ – though it was made painfully apparent that no cameras were to be in action during the concert.

The day after was certainly no less jam-packed. Awaking first thing in the morning with a preparatory and somewhat anxious rehearsal before a recital in front of Dave Weckl himself and two other seasoned musicians.

Arriving at Victoria University, where the venue had been designated for the NZSM Jazz Project, the nervous tension was apparent on the young musicians faces, but regardless of such obstacles, the SMC Senior Jazz Combo managed to pull through, gaining some praise and valuable advice from the seasoned professionals judging them.

After a number of commendable jazz performances from other attending schools: Wellington Boys High, Rangitoto College and Sacred Heart College among others, followed a live Q&A session with non-other than R&B and Soul singer Tony Lindsay. At this much advice taken note of.

Thereafter was the closing awards ceremony for the NZSM Jazz Project of 2017, where the most ‘outstanding’ individual musicians as well as school groups were celebrated.

Congratulations to all who were commended!

Finally, with the day behind them the senior students set out for one final adventure of the night. Attending a spectacular evening concert by grammy award winning Dianne Reeves.

“It was a great experience, it gave us great ideas on how to improve the way we play for certain genres” says Adrian Suva, bassist of the Senior Jazz Combo, he also added, “Mr. Cho fanboyed”.

It certainly appeared to have been a wonderful experience for our Jazz Combo students.

Though the night had ended following the concert, and the curtains closed, the aspiring musicians of our own SMC Senior Jazz Combo have a long, yet hopeful, road ahead of them.

Gabriel Nito