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Revealing Summer for the JazzArts All-Stars

July 2020  —  Along with all our Ensembles, the All-Star group was cut short at the end of the Spring semester. In catching up with a few of them, we hear an echo of our own state of mind, and can capture a sense of encouragement.

They each describe this summer as a combination of relaxing and revealing. They have missed their normal spring and summer activities, especially working with their fellow All-Stars. “It’s really funny that around Christmas time we were so tired of playing John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things that we couldn’t listen to it anymore,” remembers Olivia Ratliff, bass player and Rock Hill rising junior. “But every one of us would give anything to play it together again.”

She continues, “Music has definitely supported me throughout this pandemic. I’ve been listening to sub genres I wouldn’t typically listen to and that has really given me comfort in the music.” Samuel David, drummer and Forest Hills rising senior, says he plays every chance he gets, scrolling through Youtube to discover a new gospel, jazz, or rap tune. “It’s soothing, even if it’s not playing with others.”

Replacing their normal musical outlets, each has found a new path to expanding their skills. Drummer and JM Robinson High School student Trey Tarzia says he’s been working on side projects playing his second instrument, guitar. He also just started gigging again, filling in with the Eli Yacinthe Band with a few All -Star alumni Aron Stornaiuolo and Ariel Mejia. “I am happy to be back, even in front of a small audience.”

Samuel is discovering his inner strength, as he pushes himself in the absence of the normal support of peers and deadline of shows. “You’ve gotta keep that motivation for when everything calms down and we can play again.”

Olivia has used this time to work on composing. She describes finding her voice in the music as liberating. “My perspective has drastically changed. Being able to create my own music and being so inspired by all the music I’ve heard, has made me open in ways I’ve never been before.”

Each has followed a new path to growth driven by the circumstances of this unusual summer. Gustavo Cruz, saxophone player from Bailey Middle School reflects, “through this time, I’ve learned to appreciate the smaller things in life and use the time given to me to its full advantage.”  Trey sums up all of their feelings for the near future: “I can’t wait to get back in rehearsals with the other All-Stars to see how much we’ve all improved over this quarantine.”

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