New World School of the Arts was one of two schools nationwide selected by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz this year to represent the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA] in a national “Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education” tour. With lead funding from the NEA, the Institute will introduce the program in Santa Fe and Albuquerque public schools February 27 – March 2.
Combining performance with information, a jazz quintet comprised of five exceptionally gifted music students from Miami’s premier public performing arts high school will present “informances” in five New Mexican high schools along with internationally acclaimed saxophonist and Grammy nominee Bobby Watson, vocal sensation Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. J.B. Dyas. Each schoolvisit will include an assembly program featuring a musical performance for all students, followed by jazz workshops for each school’s jazz band and choir with the visiting student performers playing alongside and sharing ideas with their New Mexican counterparts.
Besides playing jazz at a level that belies their years, the students will talk with their Santa Fe and Albuquerque peers about what jazz is, why it’s important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. They also will discuss important American values that jazz represents: teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance offinding a passion early in life, being persistent, and believing in yourself. When young people hear this important message from kids their same age, they tend to listen.
The five NWSA Miami students selected to participate in the New Mexico tour include bassist Jose Albizu-Campos, 16; guitarist Harley Basadre, 18; drummer Chris Edwards, 18; saxophonist David Leon, 18; and pianist Antonio Madruga, 17. “Our quintet has grown so much by learning Bobby Watson’s music,” said Madruga, a semi-finalist in the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. “It runs the full gamut from swing to bebop to modern and everything in between.”
Immediately following the informances, Watson, Henry, and Dyas will conduct jazz workshops for each host school’s jazz band and choir in which the visiting students will play with their New Mexican counterparts side-by-side, providing tutelage peer to peer. In so doing, they will teach and learn from one another not unlike Thelonious Monk did with his fellow musicians during the bebop era some 60 years ago. They’ll also learn about each other’s cities and culture.
The week-long tour will conclude with a concert open to the public on March 2 atAlbuquerque’s premier jazz club, Jazzbah, 119 Gold Street SW, where Albuquerque residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of music with Watson and Henry alongside jazz’sfuture “young lions.” The septet will perform standards, jazz classics, and contemporary jazz, including compositions from Watson’s and Henry’s latest CD releases.
Shows begin at 8:00 & 10:00 pm. Information at 505-243-5299 or visit www. jazzbahabq.com.
New World School of the Arts