December 2020 — This holiday season, the JAZZ ROOM is bringing together nine musicians to share their music in an online holiday performance. We sat down with several of them to talk about the holidays and their music.
What does “Keep the Music Playing mean” to you?
AMOS HOFFMAN: It is as meaningful as it can be. It’s my life.
MAC ARNOLD: Music must be played. It’s the way we stay united.
ROXY COSS: Jazz in general, is a social music. The lineage of jazz comes from mentorship, and traditionally, you only really hear and feel the music in its truest, fullest form through live performance. In the current environment, this program is an example of how music continues to thrive and adapt to today’s culture. Organizations like JazzArts Charlotte represent a commitment to showcase not only the masters of the music, but also to provide opportunities for young talents to be featured, and to encourage and support the youngest students.
COREY WILKES: It’s the soundtrack to my life. The background, even if I’m not physically working. This was one of my biggest years ever. Prior to the shutdown, I was going to be touring 50% of the year, weeks at a time. But I’ve got kids, so I can’t sit still. I just released an album a few months ago. I now do a lot of production work. Basically music is always playing for me.
OLIVIA RATLIFF: Life. Literally, it’s a livelihood. It is also creativity. For students like me, it creates and keeps friendships through sharing music. For everyone, it generates good vibes.
All of the [JazzArts] All-Stars describe this time as forcing them to shift to new ways of being musical – composing music, discovering online communities, digging into new genres, trying a new instrument. The live performances and physical classes may have stopped, but their desire to explore and learn and share did not.
SASHA MASAKOWSKI: Music must continue against all odds. This year has stacked all the odds against us, but through it all music continues to uplift and bring people together.
This year is a little different for all of us. What traditions are you keeping, or creating, to make it special?
ROXY: This year will be different, as our families live across the country. We will be decorating, baking festive dishes, and spinning our holiday favorites – music is the greatest sentimental treasure. I think this year the focus is on practicing gratitude for the things we do have – health, prosperity, educational opportunities, and for family and friendships and connections both in and out of this music.
SASHA: This year I’m spending the holidays in Denmark, so that’s quite different! I’m learning about the traditions they have over here, new recipes, new music. I think the one thing that remains the same is listening to Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat for the whole month of December! Replacing my usual holiday concerts down in Louisiana, I’ll be bringing the New Orleans Christmas vibe Copenhagen.
AMOS: Usually we celebrate one of the eight nights of Hanukkah gathering together with another family. This year, it will be only our family. My daughter and son are both making plans to move away for work and school soon. So like all the holiday music I love, it will be nostalgic and poignant, light and celebratory.
COREY: My wife and I do holidays a little different. We have our own nuances, like jerk chicken and steak, instead of turkey. As a musician, I am usually on the road a lot for the holidays. My presence in the house is a big change. My daughter is almost five, and she will remember this year.
In so many ways, it is a holiday to remember. Each of these amazing musicians has hand-picked a song of special meaning to perform for the JAZZ ROOM Holiday Edition this year. We look forward to sharing that music, and those special stories, with you on December 18th.
The full line-up of musicians for the JAZZ ROOM Holiday Edition:
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with Ben Jaffe (bass), Charlie Gabriel (vocals/saxophone), Kyle Roussel (piano), Clint Maedgen (saxophone/vocals), Ronell Johnson (trombone), Branden Lewis (trumpet), Walter Harris (drummer)
JazzArts All-Star Youth Ensemble, with Olivia Ratliff (bass & vocals), Holland Majors (piano), Trey Tarzia (drums), Gustavo Cruz (tenor saxophone)
Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues, with Mac Arnold (guitar and vocals), Max Hightower (Bass), Dizzy Dizzy (Drums), Austin Brashier (Guitar)
Roxy Coss (tenor saxophone), with Miki Yamanaka (piano), Dave Baron (bass), Jimmy Macbride (drums)
Amos Hoffman, with Ocie Davis (drums), Sam Edwards (bass)
Matt Lemmler (piano and vocals)
Sasha Masakowski (vocals), with renowned Danish artist Per Møllehøj (guitar)
Robyn Springer (vocals), with Lovell Bradford (piano), Ocie Davis (drums)
Corey Wilkes (trumpet), with Junius Paul (bass)