All Stars praise local jazzsters
Carl Allen, drummer and Jazz Artistic Director at The Juilliard School in New York, was in Seoul just last Friday and Saturday with the Juilliard Jazz All Stars.
The group made time in its hectic schedule to teach a Master Class open to the public at Myongji College from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and performed at Yonsei University in the evening.
The members of the group were handpicked by Allen and comprised Juilliard graduates and faculty: Ron Blake on saxophone, Dominick Farinacci on trumpet, Yasushi Nakamura on contrabass and Adam Birnbaum and Mayuko Katakura on piano.
“You want to play with people you have fun with,” said Allen on how they came together. The group recorded its first album, “Standards,” last February in New York.
The All Stars toured in Japan in 2005 but this is their first time in Korea. “Carl has worked with record producer Makoto Kimata, who recorded the All Stars, in Japan for about 20 years,” said Laurie Carter, the executive director of the Jazz Studies program at Juilliard. “It was Kimata’s idea to work something out with Korea.”
The Master Class sessions were mostly attended by young student musicians who got one-on-one tutor sessions with the artists, played together in small ensembles and listened to lectures.
“There is a serious interest in jazz here. After all there are lots of Korean students studying music in America,” said soprano and tenor saxophonist Ron Blake. “The energy’s positive and upbeat.”
Although there were only about 20 participants, the Jazz All Stars hope to continue annual visits to Korea and expand the scope of the program. “Two days is entirely too short and much too concentrated,” said Carter.
During both shows, the All Stars kept the crowd lively with fast-tempo arrangements of standards from jazz greats like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.
A special performance of “Summer Time” and “Lover Come Back to Me” by Korean jazz vocalist Yoon Hee-jung had the audience going.
“It’s beautiful that musicians can communicate through jazz,” said Yoon during the show, adding that they had rehearsed only once before performing.
The musicians managed to squeeze in time for some entertainment and reflection despite the packed schedule. Carter enjoyed samgyetang (chicken-ginseng soup), while the dreary weather reminded Blake of “a song that I wrote on my last CD called ‘Remember the Rain.’’’
The Juilliard All Stars hope not only to perform but also help educate others about music.
“Listen to as much music as possible and develop your sense of style and artistry by emulating your idols and with some trust and guidance working with other master musicians,” said Blake for aspiring jazz musicians in Korea. “Don’t be afraid of discipline.”
The Jazz All Stars will be in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 16, where they will hold jazz workshops and attend festivals in Tokyo and Osaka.
By Lee Hye-in Contributing Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]