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Further development of youth in Jazz - TEEN JAZZ

The NQ Jazz Club continues to support young emerging jazz vocalists and musicians through providing regular opportunities for them to perform at the club and in some instances arranging workshops to enhance their understanding and appreciation of jazz as well as their capacity to deliver a true jazz performance. This developmental focus is critical if the club is to continue into the future. One club night, some of the regular jazz musicians Les Nicholson, Bob Passmore and John Ruffle, made the observation that as their average age was around 60 years, they had better do something to ensure that at least some of the next generation of musicians developed a love for jazz and could, in time, fill their shoes.

This need to provide for the future of jazz had been recognised by another group of jazz enthusiasts who in 1997 had formed North Queensland Junior Jazz Inc. which continued to provide an annual adjudication of high school jazz bands from 1997 to 2007. The NQ Jazz Club was fortunate to accept funds from the disbanded Junior Jazz organisation in July 2008 on the proviso that this money would be used specifically to support the development of young jazz artists. The distribution of these funds is still being shown in the NQ Jazz Club Inc. financial reports in 2011 and will continue in 2012.

2011 – Recognising and Rewarding Emerging Musical Talent in the Jazz Genre

The focus of the 2011 Teen Jazz program was the opportunity for interested schools to participate in a performance that would be adjudicated by a panel of professional jazz artists. The aim of this adjudicated performance is to recognise and reward jazz bands and individual jazz musicians who demonstrate outstanding talent.  Recognition would be through opportunities for the best band and best emerging student artists to play at NQ Jazz Club with jazz professionals and possibly at other venues such as the Palmer Street Jazz Festival and The Great Tropical Jazz Party on Magnetic Island. It also offers a great opportunity to be ‘spotted’ by the section leaders of Stokes Nicholson Big Band (currently celebrating its 21st year which is a remarkable milestone for any band!) who are looking to select one new young jazz musician for each section of the big band to ensure the future of this great band.

Reward is the award of bursaries to assist with further musical development of the best group and individual jazz performers and the runner-up in each of these sections. The $2000 for these cash incentives was drawn from the money gifted to the NQ Jazz Club by the North Queensland Junior Jazz Inc. when it disbanded in 2008 and a $100 gift voucher donated by The Keyboard Shop.

Although not a committee member in 2011, Bill Kennedy volunteered his time to co-ordinate the Teen Jazz sub-committee and Bob Passmore contributed a tireless effort ensuring bands were well set up with sound equipment. The professional musicians who gave their time to adjudicate were Vicki and David Salisbury and Les Nicholson.  Due to competing demands experienced by high school music students only three schools indicated interest in participating – Cathedral School Stage Band, Saint Margaret Mary’s Jazz Vocal Ensemble and Kirwan High Big Band. Due to time restrictions it was decided that the adjudication would take place at Palmer Street Jazz Festival on Sunday 14th August.

The Most Accomplished Group Award of $500 was taken out by Cathedral School Stage Band, the runner-up being Kirwan High Big Band ($250). The Most Accomplished Soloist title was awarded to Oliver Bellwood from Cathedral ($250) and the runner-up title was shared by the soloists from St Margaret Mary’s ($100).

This was a very enjoyable afternoon with all three participating schools being invited to play at NQ Jazz Club by the end of November. St. Margaret Mary’s Jazz Vocal Ensemble appeared on 9th October; Cathedral School Stage Band on 23rd October and Kirwan High Big Band on 13 November and each school was given a very warm reception by a supportive jazz club audience and several school students joined the professionals in the sit-in bracket on their night.   

Cathedral School is to be particularly congratulated as it has developed incredibly well over the past 12 months. Some of our members may recall that when Cathedral played for us in March last year it was still quite an inexperienced band that played a fairly short set rather than pushing young musicians beyond their capacity at that time. What a difference a year of good coaching and lots of individual practice can make! And just look at the personality of their trumpet player and vocalist, Oliver Bellwood! This significant development by a relatively new jazz band precisely fits the aim of our Teen Jazz program.

Shall we see an even stronger performance by one of this year’s bands or perhaps the emergence of another youth band in 2012?

2010 – Performance and Intrastate Jazz Interaction

Although the high school music departments showed very limited interest in participating on the Teen Jazz Stage at the 2010 Palmer Street Jazz Festival, the youth participation at the NQ Jazz Club was as active as in previous years.

Early in 2010 the Cathedral School expressed an interest in bringing their recently formed Stage Band to perform at the club and agreed on Sunday 13th March. The jazz club patrons take great delight in providing a very supportive environment for young musicians just starting out on their jazz journey to perform a small repertoire to give them the confidence to return as they gain more experience.

August was an exciting month with the visit to the NQ Jazz Club by Beaudesert State High School Big Band. The Beaudesert band had organised a music excursion leaving Brisbane on 5th August to Cairns where they had a workshop with the Hotshots Big Band and some schools, then back down the coast to Townsville to appear at the jazz club and attend a workshop with 1 RAR Army Band then travelling on to Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Toowoomba before arriving home on the 12th. The tour combined sight-seeing, a Cowboys vs Broncos game, jazz workshops with school bands and various professional musicians as well the chance to play for a discerning jazz audience at NQ Jazz Club.

Both Beaudesert Big Band and Kirwan High Big Band played at the club on 8th August to a very receptive audience, many of whom were motivated to contribute positive comments for the September Newsletter. Another member took the time to phone the Beaudesert State High School Principal to compliment the school on the musicianship and manners of their touring students.

The following Sunday was the final day of the 2010 Palmer Street Jazz Festival and it had been hoped that the NQ Jazz Club would host several school bands on the Teen Jazz Stage. However it was disappointing that only Townsville Grammar Big Band was available to play. This band was well received by a small crowd which unfortunately only grew in numbers just as they were completing their performance.

On 10th October the last of the Teen Jazz performances took place for 2010 with a strong performance by Townsville Grammar Big Band. Once again the patrons at NQ Jazz Club provided a very supportive atmosphere for a well rehearsed performance.

Teen Jazz