For the third year in a row, one of Tomorrow’s Warriors’ students has been awarded a scholarship to attend the internationally acclaimed Jazz House Kids summer camp in Montclair, New Jersey. This year the scholarship went to pianist Sultan Stevenson (17), and here he is reporting back on his time in the USA and what he gained from the scholarship.
My time at Jazz House Kids Summer Workshop has been truly inspiring. Throughout the two weeks I was pushed, stretched and challenged as a young jazz musician, I met countless jazz greats such as: Christian McBride, Billy Hart, Stefan Harris, Marcus Printup, Ted Chubb (to name a few).
I found that being immersed around highly talented students pushed me to take the idea of being a jazz musician more seriously. It has encouraged me to strive for greatness in my piano playing. I was exposed to working within small ensambles, working within a big band situation and learning things that I have very little experience in such as composing and arranging.
Inevitably I made many new friendships. It seemed as though both the students and the teaching faculty welcomed me into the Jazz House Kids community to the point where at the end of the workshop it was as if I had known them for years.
Most of all, the area of my musicianship that was nurtured the most was my ability to work within a rhythm section. In the Big Band ensamble (led by Abraham Burton) and my Combo (led by Alvester Garnett) I was taught how to fully engage with the drummer and the bassist. Mr Garnett urged us to develop a innate and unprompted set of non verbal communication skills which would allow us to act as one instrument and not as three isolated musicians.
The most memorable experience of my whole trip was when during a combo session Dave Stryker, Christian McBride, Billy Hart and Ingrid Jensen all walked into my combo rehearsal. Each of them would start and stop the rehearsal and offer up advice on how we could be more unified when playing as an ensemble. The experience was so intense it made me change my perspective on how to musically interact with other musicians but more importantly it helped to enhance my musical character.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. It helped me to see the bigger picture of what it means to be a jazz musician and what it means to be an artist. I would relish and love the opportunity to have the same experience or a similar experience in the coming year. I was truly moved and inspired.