For the third year in a row, one of Tomorrow’s Warriors’ students has been awarded a scholarship to attend the internationally acclaimed JazzHouseKids summer camp in Montclair, New Jersey – selected on the basis of their hard work, commitment and promise as an outstanding jazz musician. Sultan Stevenson (17) – pianist – has been flown out to spend 2 weeks working with some of the world’s leading jazz musicians and students from all over the USA, towards a final showcase performance on Saturday 11th August.
In previous years, other Warriors to have made the trip include: Gaby Carberry (Double Bass), Ife Ogunjobi (Trumpet), Donovan Haffner (Alto Sax), Joe Bristow (Trombone), Cherise Adams-Burnett (Voice) and Daisy Corder (Trumpet).
This exciting international partnership between two of the world’s leading jazz development organisations is now in its third year, and TW are thrilled to again be giving the opportunity to receive mentoring and top-notch instruction to develop key skills and enhance their ensemble performance technique with JHK and its team of renowned musicians, led by Christian McBride.
Here’s Sultan’s update of how he’s benefitted from the programme so far:
So far I have really enjoyed the Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop. It has been at times very challenging and intensive but at times thrilling to be surrounded by people who share a love to play and live jazz.
A typical day will feature my studio class in the morning which is dedicated to specifically pianist and concentrates on improving piano technique and also deals with the important roles we as jazz pianist must do (comping, providing harmonic and rhythmic support to the soloist) After this class is composition, this is focused on the art of writing coherently and idiomatically for different instruments. I have chosen to write a composition for a quintet. My composition will be performed at the famous Dizzy’s Coca Cola Jazz bar! After Composition is combo class (led by Alvester Garnett) I have found this class to be the most exciting of all classes as it pushes me to come up with spontaneous ideas on the bandstand whilst the material we play is extremely challenging.
To conclude the day is Big band ensemble. I have never been in such a challenging big band before as our big band director’s (Abraham Burton) methods of teaching are highly original but yet still force the best of my musicianship and originality out of me.
The highlight of the camp so far is going to the Newport Jazz Festival, we woke up at 4am to endure a 4 hour coach ride to down town Newark to witness Roy Hargrove and Jon Batiste, during Jon Baptiste’s set he invited all Jazz House Kids students to go up on stage and watch him perform. I was inspired and captivated by his use of colour and his unique relationship to the blues. It inspired me to strive for greatness and clarity in my own piano playing.
I am looking forward to the coming week as I will be performing at Dizzy’s and at the Montclair Jazz Festival. I have really enjoyed speaking to the American students and finding out what they think and feel about jazz.
Sultan even got interviewed in the Montclair Local News! Read the full article here.
Going to Newport is a draw for 17-year-old Sultan Stevenson, who comes to the summer workshops from London. It’s the young pianist’s first time at Jazz House Kids; he won a scholarship from the music school he attends at home, Tomorrow’s Warriors. He hopes to become a more rounded musician from the workshops, and to become immersed in American jazz. London jazz, he said, takes influences from Calypso and West African, and has less traditional swing than American jazz.