Brooklyn Music School (BMS) presents the 6th Annual Middle School Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 12pm to 6:30pm, with a concert at 4:30pm, followed by a jam session with students, faculty, and guest artist. BMS is located at 126 Saint Felix Street, Brooklyn. Concert tickets are a $10 suggested donation. For more information, visit:https://www.brooklynmusicschool.org/calendar/msjazzfest-2019
The festival will feature performances by participating middle schools, a rhythm section clinic by special guest clinician Helen Sung, clinics by the BMS faculty, professional development for participating school faculty members, and a closing concert/awards ceremony. This year, BMS welcomes Donald Harrison, “the King of Nouveau Swing” to the festival as the guest host. Previous guest artists have included: Ingrid Jensen, Dr. Victor Lewis, Robin Eubanks, Sherman Irby, and Duane Eubanks.
Festivals, such as this, are important for the development and training of budding jazz musicians in America. When asked about the inspiration behind this annual jazz festival, Piruz Partow, BMS Executive Director said, “I went to hear Jazz pianist Randy Weston speak several years ago, and he spoke of the importance of teaching jazz early, and remarked how musicians from Europe and Japan were playing American Music/Jazz better than us, and this really gave Jeff Newell, BMS Jazz Department Co-Chair, and I the idea to do a Middle School Jazz Festival.”
The following schools will be participating in this year’s Jazz Festival: The Berkeley Carroll School, Community Roots Charter School, NEST+M, and Ocean Hill Collegiate Charter School. Though the festival is noncompetitive, the guest artist and the BMS faculty will be adjudicating performances to offer suggestions/encouragement and will award certificates for outstanding musicianship. The Brooklyn Music School intends for this festival to strengthen middle school jazz programs and build jazz community among young musicians in Brooklyn.
About Donald Harrison
Donald Harrison was born in New Orleans in 1960 and grew up in a home environment saturated with the city’s traditional brass bands, Afro-New Orleans culture, modern jazz, R&B, funk, classical, world and dance music. His connection to New Orleans’ roots was deepened by his father, a Big Chief, in a new American style of African culture developed in New Orleans.
Harrison created “Nouveau Swing,” a style off jazz that merges it with modern dance music like R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul and Rock. Over twenty years ago, he also combined jazz with Afro-New Orleans traditional music on his critically acclaimed and influential albums “Indian Blues” in 1991 and “Spirits of Congo Square” in 2000.
Over three decades playing as a professional artist has placed Harrison on stage and on recordings with some of the most influential artists of the 21st century. He has performed and recorded with an illustrious list of distinguished musicians in Jazz, R & B, Funk, Classical and other music genres. Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, The Cookers, McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Lena Horne, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Eddie Palmieri, Jennifer Holiday, Dr. John, Guru’s Jazzmatazz, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Digable Planets, Notorious BIG, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra are just a few of the artists and ensembles he has performed with.
Harrison is co-founder and Artistic Director of the Tipitana’s Intern Program and also the founder of The New Jazz School where he along with his hand picked staff of seasoned veterans teach jazz, soul, funk, theory, harmony, composition, and history to students ranging from ages thirteen to eighteen. The Tip’s program is a college preparatory and music-training program for junior and senior high school students. This program has afforded millions of dollars in scholarships for its students, has taught million dollar-selling producers, and has placed many prominent musicians in the professional ranks. Trumpeter Christian Scott, hip hop icon The Notorious B.I.G., trombonist Trombone Shorty, guitarist Josh Connelly, producer Deezle and saxophonists Louis Fouche, Chris Royal and Aaron Fletcher are just a few. His working groups are an incubator for jazz bandleaders such as Christian Scott, guitarist Mark Whitfield, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and bassists Christian McBride and Esperanza Spalding.
Throughout his career, Harrison has received numerous accolades for his music and talent. He is a patented inventor whose main invention is a new system to record and play back music. His new system will give musicians and music lover’s new ways to engage with music. He is working on developing software for the invention, which many believe, will assist in turning around a sagging music industry. Some of his awards include: two of France’s “Grand Prix du Disque”, Switzerland’s “The Ascona Award”, Japan’s Swing Journal “Alto Saxophonist of the Year,” The Jazz Journalist Association’s “A List Award,” 2012 New Orleans Civic Award, 2007 Jazziz Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” the Big Easy Music Awards “Ambassador of Music” and a Down Beat Magazine’s Alto Saxophone Poll Winner. He was also a 2006 Resident at William and Mary College, a 1995 “Meet The Composer” recipient and a 2012 Grammy nominee.
About Helen Sung
Pianist/composer Helen Sung has spent most of her life in two distinct worlds. A classical student from a young age who transitioned to jazz in her early twenties, she understands the limitless range and potential of the piano in a way that few specialists in either genre can. In addition, as the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Sung embodies two diverse cultures and has discovered a musical voice and identity that are true to both – and more importantly, true to herself.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Sung began classical piano and violin lessons at age five. She attended Houston’s acclaimed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), and chose to continue her classical piano studies at the University of Texas in Austin.
After receiving her Bachelor of Music, Helen decided to stay and complete a Master of Music degree in classical piano performance and eventually landed at the New England Conservatory to be a part of the inaugural class of the brand new Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with Ron Carter as the artistic director. In addition to Carter, the two-year program featured a Who’s Who of Jazz Master teachers including Clark Terry, Jackie McLean, Sir Roland Hanna, Jimmy Heath, Wynton Marsalis, Barry Harris, and Jon Faddis, to name a few. The students also toured India and Thailand with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, performed at the Kennedy Center, and gained experience giving masterclasses and workshops.
Upon graduation, Helen gigged around Boston, was a semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Piano Competition, and received a Fish-Middleton Jazz Scholarship before moving to New York City in 1999. Sung has won the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition, and was featured on the late Marian McPartland’s celebrated NPR show Piano Jazz.
In 2015, Sung began exploring composing for larger ensembles, winning a spot in the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop. She won 3rd prize at the Workshop’s 2016 Composition Competition, and also arranged/performed a big band arrangement of McCoy Tyner’s Four By Five for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s 2016 season opening concerts. This arrangement and performance is featured on the 2017 Blue Engine release Handful of Keys.
Inspired by her experience at the Monk Institute, Helen stays involved in music education through residencies and workshops/clinics. She has served on the faculties of the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, the Newark Boys Chorus School, and the Berklee College of Music. She is currently a member of the jazz faculties at the Juilliard School and Columbia University.
Jazz at BMS
The BMS Jazz Department has undergone incredible growth over the last six years. The Jazz Department has four active student Jazz Ensembles, offers summer workshops and intensives, programs an annual FAB/BMS Fall Faculty Jazz Series each year, and offers performance opportunities regularly for our Jazz students, at BMS and at other venues such as BRIC. With influential musicians like Eric Dolphy and Gary Bartz once living down the street, the Brooklyn Music School has long been surrounded by the sound of jazz in its location in the heart of Fort Greene. The great vocalist Betty Carter lived across the street and pianist Cecil Taylor lived around the corner till his death in 2018. Over the years BMS has been graced with their music as well as performances by saxophonists Jimmy Heath (an NEA Jazz Master), Dewey Redman, and Sherman Irby – trombonist Robin Eubanks, Arturo O’Farrill, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.
The Brooklyn Music School views music and performance as the birthright of all people, an essential way that human beings connect with others and explore their creativity. The study of music has been demonstrated to enhance academic learning and helps to develop discipline and confidence that will serve children well throughout their lives.As part of the vision of reinventing the community music school for the 21st Century, BMS is dedicated to:
* Making high quality musical instruction approachable and affordable to a wide range of students,
* Creating frequent opportunities for performance for our students and cultural enrichment for our community,
* Representing a wide range of musical traditions, including European, African, Middle Eastern, and American to represent the diversity of Brooklyn’s musical talent, and
* Offering a warm and welcoming space for families and individuals to explore new talents and make lasting friendships.