Mentioning "jazz" in polite company can be a little like mentioning "the war"!
The perceptions of jazz, and the reactions to it can provoke in the general population (let alone amongst musicians), can be as varied as the range of styles the genre represents. For some, jazz means big band swing. For others, a sultry saxophone out front of a trio in a smoky bar.
And to our hipster brethren it can mean anything from the stylings of Harry Connick Jr and Norah Jones through to the whole jazz-fusion school pioneered by the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report. Add to that the myriad multicultural and indigenous influences encompassed by world music and you can see that the "jazz" melting pot has become a pretty heady gumbo.
What do we do about it?
To create a focus for jazz development, the GRC is introducing a new strand into its range of ensemble programs. Co-ordinated by musician and tutor Michael Baker, the GRC Contemporary Jazz Ensemble Program offers a platform for the instrumentalists and vocalists to increase their musical skill level while, at the same time, expanding their musical horizons.
The program is open to musicians of all backgrounds, the only requirement being some basic instrumental and/or vocal ability, entry-level music literacy skills and a taste for musical adventure. As part of the course, participants will have the opportunity to play in an ensemble, learn the mechanics of swing and funk stylings, improvise in structured and "open" settings and experiment with composing and arranging for a jazz ensemble. Repertoire will be drawn in equal parts from the traditional (Ellington, Miles Davis, Hancock etc) and from the "fusion" possibilities available with the range of participants involved.
Weekly sessions will be held in the Rock Con facility at the GRC and opportunities for recording and live performance will be scheduled during the term.