U of C music series teaches kids what this jazz thing is all about

By Jon Roe

Kids these days don’t know what the jazz is all about.

Luckily there’s the Monday Night Jazz Series at the University of Calgary’s University Theatre to help them learn.

In its sixth season, the Monday Night Jazz Series has brought internationally acclaimed artists and fantastic local acts to the campus once a month.

“Jazz is so disparate, there are so many strands of it . . . basically any genre that you can think of has some infusion of jazz,” says Dr. Jeremy Brown, a professor in the music department at the U of C who also co-organizes the festival with local jazz musician and U of C alumni Gerry Hebert.

“When we look at an act, we try to combine a variety of different concerts so that the whole is never the same from concert to concert and reflects the diversity of the world of jazz.”

The Latin/Afro-Cuban infused beats of Cumako kick off the series Sept. 28, followed by five acts including smooth classic jazz piano and world fusion.

“It’s a very pulse oriented ensemble,” Brown says, adding that they remind him a lot of Santana.

Brown plays with his quartet Verismo in January. Verismo played at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2007.

“If we didn’t do this, it is unlikely it would be picked up in some other venue,” says Brown.

He explains one of the compelling reasons they like to do it is because unlike most music shows in the city, jazz is based on improvisation.

“Jazz music is largely an oral tradition,” Brown says. “That is to say, while there may be written charts, the thrust of the music is improvisatory and that’s not anything you’re going to get at the Jack Singer, at the typical symphony night or ballet event with the music, it’s all pretty rigid, pretty written out. Jazz music is different. It’s about individual expression.”

The festival is funded partially by the Alberta foundation for the arts and by the U of C. With both international and local artists lighting up the University Theatre this season, the Monday Night Jazz Series will be the best place to wear a sweater, eat some Jello puddin’ and learn about jazz.

“It’s really just top notch, you won’t find better players from Canada or in Canada than the players that we’re bringing here,” Brown says.

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