Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"That's how I do my thing!"

I managed to check out two events on the last day of the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival and found that these events had plenty in common: entertainment, a little education and calls for audience participation.

At the THEARC in Southeast DC, Nasar Abadey's Legazy Band, which includes his teenage son, gave some youngsters a lesson in jazz basics. He found a way to bring improvisation home to kids, telling them that it is similar to performing freestyle.

The band demonstrated improvisation with a scatted-up version of The Flintstones theme song. Abadey then called a few volunteers onstage to show their skills. Interestingly enough, the first few were handed a microphone, but they chose not use it very much. I thought they would all start to rap, but they most just danced (quite well I might add). Although one kid did exclaim the words in the title of this post upon finishing. Abadey then prompted the next volunteers to rap.

The festival's final performance featured Paquito D'Rivera, the festival's musical director with a cohort of very skilled musicians, many of whom hail from Latin America. One of them, Edmar CastaƱeda of Columbia, did absolutely impossible things with a harp.

In between selections, D'Rivera gave the audience insight into the value of instruments like the bandoneĆ³n. He also treated the audience to tales of jazz legends, including sharing a story about how Dizzy Gillespie once arrived at a South American club dressed as a gaucho and riding a horse.

There was also swag: attendees were treated to a souvenir program booklet that came with a free cd.

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