The next couple of days I gave four workshops at the festival. One on the blues,”The Blues is the Roots, Everything Else is the Fruits.” We stomp/clapped, delved into the cultural and emotional roots of the blues, sang “Wade in the Water and the “What Gives You the Blues Blues.” Once we got on instruments, the kids froze up a bit so I felt the need to bust into, “Built for Comfort.” “Some folks built like this, some folks built like that. Don’t you holler at me baby, don’t you call me fat, ’cause I’m built for comfort. I ain’t built for speed. I got everything sweet mama need. The students willingly joined in. Then, come to find out Joe Williams widow, Gillian was in the audience. She said, “this workshop was not what I expected but you sure did get those kids involved. Joe didn’t take any lessons with you though.” Thanks Gillian. We laughed about it over a drink later. What an oasis, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival…
I also taught a workshop on free improvisation inspired by my hero Warren Smith. Middle School students including Liam pictured below from Sitka Alaska played a programmatic, freely improvised piece that told the story of a team of mountain climbers challenging an extraordinary peak. They threw down some serious music in the process.
We had two workshops on Jazz and Drama where participants musicalized two poems, Jazz Is..by Clifford Carlson and “The Jazz Aesthetica” by Shireen Dickson. So much creativity, joy and teamwork was unleashed. You could feel the NuArt Theatre in downtown Moscow vibrating!
Big thanks to the students from Russell Elementary who did an amazing job at the jazz and drama workshop at the Nu-Art. You are such a creative and energized bunch of young people and your teacher, Lisa, is a jewel!
Another big thank-you to the students and their teacher Mike, of Sitka Middle School in Alaska. They were my demonstrators for the blues and free improvisation workshop. Liam’s photo sums it up best. The future of our music is in great hands!