Georgia Clark's Arts Mixtape

Jazz Through The Ages

The history-spanning Generations Band brings jazz players together with their mentors to create an ensemble that sounds like "lighting in a bottle".

Generations Band
Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street
Thursday July 9th – Sunday July 12th
Tickets $25/ $30 Friday and Saturday,

"Vince: I hate jazz.
Howard: You hate jazz? You fear jazz, don't you?
Vince: No I don't.
Howard: You fear the lack of rules. The lack of boundaries. Oooh! It's a fence! No, it's soft! Ahhhh! What's happening? The shapes!"

"The Mighty Boosh"'s Howard Moon is well-known for his love of jazz, and the character from the UK cult comedy show is not alone. New York City prides itself as the spiritual home of modern jazz – the scene by which all others are measured. This month premier jazz club Jazz Standard hosts the history-spanning Generations Band as part of their prestigious July line-up. "The Generations Band was formed as an artist-in-residence ensemble at San Francisco State University," explains alto saxophonist Andrew Speight. "The philosophy behind it was to have a jazz ensemble of undisputed 'jazz masters', who were also exceptional educators, and believed strongly in mentoring new generations of musicians."

Mentoring has been essential to the development of jazz from the very beginning. Without Joe (King) Oliver there would be no Louis Armstrong. Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and many other masters of the craft were mentors to other aspiring musicians. "This type of education takes place on the bandstand and is impossible to replicate in academia," explains Andrew.

Despite changing personnel and the untimely death of original pianist Ronnie Matthews in June 2008, the Generations Band has not only survived, but thrived. Today, its members' collective experience encompasses more than 60 years of the artform's history. Senior statesman Frank Wess was playing with Billy Eckstine's famous big band in 1946!

"Playing with all these musicians is the most fulfilling experience any jazz musician can have," says Andrew. "The ability to create new music every set and hear jazz standards reinterpreted with such command of the language means that the musicians and audience really get the chance to feel excited - like catching lightning in a bottle."

Andrew on playing the sexiest instrument of them all: the Sax!!

"The sax is one of the most flexible of instruments. Its sound can be very personal and is often compared to speech. Great saxophonists usually are said to have commanding voices on their instruments. For that reason I would say that it is a perfect amplifier for anyone's personality. So if it is beauty or booty that you want, you just have to play a sensual melody."


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