Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jazz for the Next Generation

Sunday in New York City, what to do. There is so much on offer that sometimes we do nothing. But my kids are both music enthusiasts, learning piano better by the week, and I have been remiss at bringing them to see much live music, concentrated as it often is in dark bars long after their bedtime.

I had heard tell of jazz brunches around the city and, after a bit of an Internet search, focused on my mission enough to patiently sort through the various and sundry offerings, I found a good one. The Jazz Standard every Sunday features an ensemble of talented kid musicians as part of a Youth Orchestra directed by conductor David O'Rourke. The $5 per person suggested donation goes to support the Jazz
Standard Discovery Program, which connects New York City School children to the jazz art form.

The trip was a huge success. Taking the train into the city from Park Slope is itself an adventure, one my kids need to do more so as not to become afraid of the big bad city that abuts our little leafy neighborhood. We walked through the fancy new Italian food court, Eataly, and across Madison Square Park with its bubble-making man and public art installation, "Scattered Light", to the Jazz Standard.

As we ordered barbecue from Blue Smoke upstairs, we were front and center for a jazz master class as Mr. O'Rourke coached the kids to pay attention to their own playing and to the playing of the musicians around them. Jazz is a lesson in collaboration but also one's own singled-out efforts in such a great way.

After a bit, the actual performance started and the kids were amazing, confident and clear and strong. Any awkwardness these adolescents felt in other situations was erased as they put their minds and mouths and fingers to work for our great benefit. It was awesome to see the next generation continue what is a music form many often worry is dying. I wished I had brought enough gold stars to give them all. Next time. We'll definitely go back before too long.

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