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Live Reviews

'Let My Children Hear Music': Jazz Lives, and Young People Can Hear it at Chicago's Jazz Showcase

By Published: March 8, 2004
It’s for that reason that Vente takes issue with the currently popular notion of “repertory jazz,” or bands playing classic tunes by renowned composers in almost note-for-note fashion, with little room for improvisation or originality.

“Jazz is not a museum piece,” Vente said. He explained that even Duke Ellington, the music’s most revered composer, was always moving forward in his writing and seeking chances to play original works rather than reprising his hits.

“People demanded to hear ‘A Train’ and ‘Satin Doll’,” Vente said, “but [Ellington] wanted to play the compositions he had just written.”

Did this stress on new writing make a connection with the young people enjoying the Showcase concert? Perhaps. Devan Street, Petra Sliwiak’s son, said he studies stand-up bass in school and particularly enjoys listening to – and even, at age 9, scoring – big band jazz.

Street said he’s already written five compositions. But he doesn’t play them for other people just yet. “I keep them under my bed,” he said.

Well, every great artist needs to choose his moment. So perhaps the next Duke Ellington is busily at work soaking up what he can of jazz – on records, on the radio and in clubs such as the Jazz Showcase.

Thank goodness he can. As another noted jazz composer, Charles Mingus, put it, “Let my children hear music.”

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