Sligo Jazz Project 2013: Days 4-6
There was a gala atmosphere in the Swan Suite of the Glass House Hotel on the final day of SJP 2013. One by one, the ensembles took to the stage and presented two or in some cases three tunes that they had rehearsed with their tutors during the week. The Connor Murray Nonet, tutored by Jean Toussaint and led by saxophonist Michael Murray nailed trumpeter Miles Davis' "So What," the tune that had caused such difficulties at the start of the week. With Connor Murray absent, the students had to settle with a sub, but it's unlikely they'll ever complain about having John Goldsby at the heart of the rhythm section.
Sixteen year-old saxophonist Michael Murray from Donegal, who participated in all bar one of the jam sessions, spoke of his SJP experience: "It's been absolutely fantastic," he enthused. "I loved all the master classes and all the concerts." For Michael, however, the highlight of the week was Werner's talk, "Effortless Mastery": "You can feel really overwhelmed, which I was, by all the jazz theory. You learn something but it's never enough. I related to what he said about fear-based practice. After the talk I felt really good. Me and [pianist] Ben Tyson went back to the school and we had this jam where we just started playing, trying to get into the space that Kenny [Werner] was talking about. It might have been the most enjoyable jam that I've had the whole week."
The Truth and Good Will Ensemble, tutored by Goldsby, gave extremely polished renditions of "Scrapple from the Apple," "Moonlight in Vermont" and Juan Tizol's "Caravan." Pianist Marius van den Brink, soprano saxophonist Tiernan Jones and guitarist Paddy Shannonjam session monsters all played with real gusto.
Tutor Cathal Roche must have been delighted with his ensemble Sunflower Seeds for the way they executed trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" and multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo." Thirteen year-old Sligo trumpeter Emmett Harrison one of the youngest students at SJPdid a great job and can be justifiably proud of his achievements. He cut a much more confident figure than he had at the start of the week and he had nothing but positive things to say about the SJP: "I couldn't have imagined that I'd have learned so much as I have by the end of the week."
Theory was made easier for Harrison by teacher Linley Hamilton: "He was really good," acknowledged Harrison. "He taught me all these major and minor scales. I didn't think I'd ever know them because I found them so difficult to understand, but he made them so much easier. He showed me techniques to play better and it's really enhanced my trumpet playing." The age gap in the ensemble was no deterrent to Harrison: "I see it as an advantage, he said. "I get to learn more because I'm treated as an adult, and as a child, [laughs] but with respect." Harrison was excited about a practice tool that Linley showed him: "He showed me a warm-up technique that's really amazing and I will practice every day of my life now."
Guitarist Carl Wheelan, from guitarist Mike Nielsen's ensemble "Fubar" evoked a jazzier Jimmy Page on striking versions of "Madagascar" and pianist Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't." Trumpeter Linley Hamilton's ensemble "Charlotte's Angels" negotiated guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's "Mirror Blue," pianist Scott Flanagan's "11" and the standard "You'd Be so Nice to Come Home To' in fine style. Thirteen-year old flautist Charlotte Kinsella seemed a foot taller than at the start of the week, introducing the songs and the band with assurance. She and Aminah Hughes nailed their interventions and were perfect on unison lines.
Hamilton was full of praise for his students: "That was a challenging set they played but I thought it went very, very well. The performance level was quite high and they did themselves proud. Hopefully they can move on from here with a bit of confidence."
John Riley's ensemble "Molly and the Boats" led by vocalist/songwriter Molly Bolton gave a commanding performance of saxophonist John Coltrane's "Afro Blue." Molly's own compositions didn't feature as they belong more to the realm of solo singer, but as she demonstrated during the week she's a striking and original singer/songwriter with bags of potential.