March 2022 — We caught up with the five members of the JazzArts All-Star Youth Ensemble recently at a performance for the Women in Business Awards by the Charlotte Business Journal. The group entertained guests with an assorted repertoire of jazz standards during the pre-event social hour in the Marriot Center City.
The JazzArts All-Star Youth Ensemble is a program that spans the full academic year, so this group established their musical connection beginning in September 2021. These student musicians have developed skills on par with many professional musicians and are often requested through JazzArts Charlotte to perform at private and public events across the community. I asked them to describe to me their continued musical journey as JazzArts All-Star members.
Senior drummer, Trey Tarzia, says that rehearsals become even less like a classroom experience when you are part of the All-Stars. He described that the instructors expand into a role of musician mentorship, and the music is more of a collective process.
Saxophonist Gustavo Cruz enjoys being pushed by the advanced skills and dedication of every member of the ensemble. The group agrees they interact more like peers in the rehearsal space, and the nuances of communication and listening on the bandstand are their primary focus. As you watch them play together, the eye contact and expressiveness make that clear.
Bassist and pianist Lois and Holland Majors talked about gaining experience in performance and interacting as professionals in performance environments. Lois shared that she started out a little nervous, aware the audiences are expecting professionals. The student musicians learn important lessons from these professional performance opportunities, beyond simply playing quality music.
Saxophonist Ricardo Forges feels like the performances have helped him become less nervous playing in public, gaining experience while surrounded by trusted peers and mentors. He highlighted the value of knowing they are playing for an event, not just to play.
All five are participating in music outside of the JazzArts All-Star Ensemble, whether it is with their school programs or even with their own bands. Two of these fantastic student musicians will be graduating this spring and both are excited to have music in their future. JazzArts Charlotte is proud to be part of their musical journeys.
In April, the All Stars will be performing during Charlotte Shout! and in conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month. Watch for the schedule and come out and hear these students, tomorrow’s leaders in jazz.