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Take Five With The New Five

AAJ Staff By

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Jazz is definitely becoming institutionalized. This group is an great example of that. We met at a university while working on our doctorates in a music that used to be learned on the road. Unfortunately, like many things that become institutionalized and standardized, the music is in danger of losing its spirit. By their nature, universities teach the tools of the music like scales, chords, etc. But many students loose sight of the fact that these are just a means to an end. The goal should be to swing, to play with fire and rhythmic intensity, to honor the rich history of the music, and to communicate your intangible essence to the audience.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

We desperately need more interest in the music. With this, comes more clubs and thus more playing and touring opportunities. Unfortunately, jazz is in danger of becoming a museum music with non-profit big bands acting like symphony orchestras who rely on grants and rich people to put on concerts. Jazz needs to connect with everyday people again. How to do this is anyone's guess. We live in a culture of shallow, disposable pop music. Right now, people aren't interested in anything that might take a little effort on their part to understand and appreciate.

What is in the near future?

As a group, we hope to travel to universities and high schools to perform and give master classes.

By Day:

Thomas Heflin: Program Coordinator of the Precollege Division at the Manhattan School of Music Everyone else is in school or performing for a living.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

There's no second choice for us.

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