Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Time to Jazz Up Schools High School Musicians Try out the Music

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Time to Jazz Up Schools High School Musicians Try out the Music

Article excerpt

The band room at Nease High School may not be Minton's or the

Cotton Club, famous jazz hot spots from days past.

And the high schoolers working through Yardbird Suite aren't

Charlie Parker, John Coltrane or McCoy Tyner.

Not yet, anyway.

But with the right instruction, who knows?

That's where guitarist Gary Starling comes in. Working the

periphery of the quintet -- guitar, bass, drums, piano, sax --

the Jacksonville University professor listens, instructs, prods

and, when called for, praises. Nice chord. Try this, wait this

long before you come in.

Starling is one of seven area musicians participating in the

AT&T Universal "Jazz in the Schools" program. The concept is

relatively straightforward: A professional jazz musician goes to

area high schools on a visiting artist basis. After two days in

the classroom, ensemble members show what they have learned in a

performance at the school.

The program, which began March 24, has featured clinics by

pianists Kevin Bales, John Stech, Doug Carn and Reggie Haywood,

drummer Ricky Kirkland, saxophonist Don Zentz, Starling and

multi-instrumentalist Bill Prince. Kirkland's clinic and

concerts that started yesterday and run through tomorrow at

Englewood High School close out the program, now in its fourth


The cream of the high school ensembles will perform at

Metropolitan Park during the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Nov. 14.

Also, six deserving players -- the winners will be announced

during the Jazz Festival news conference Sept. 2 -- will receive

$1,000 scholarships.

Teaching jazz to youngsters is a challenge, Starling said.

First, it isn't high on the average high schooler's "must hear"

list. And sometimes musicians have to be introduced to the

concept that is at the heart of jazz -- improvisation.

"I start with something like the blues that they can relate

to," Starling said. "I usually give them a blues scale to work

with, something that they can latch onto fairly easily. …

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