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RiverEast March 4, 2011


High School Students Jam in Hartford's 3rd 'Jazz in the Pocket'

Colleen Kopp
on May 27, 2010 9:18 AM  

'Trading Fours'"This feels like speed-dating for musicians," Liz Dietz said, laughing.

The 17-year-old trumpeter from Southington had just been pointed at and beckoned to join the tune.

Dietz and 14 other high schoolers' smooth and invigorating jazz echoed through the Charter Oak Cultural Center during the 3rd 'Jazz in the Pocket' jam, on Friday.

[Caption: 'Trading Fours' (left to right) Bruce Phelps; Lomar Brown, 19, from Rocky Hill; Julie Blum, 17, from Westbrook; and Keaon Brown, 17, from Rocky Hill. Photo by Colleen Kopp.]

The night featured two bands, the 'Modern Riffs' under the direction of Bruce Phelps from Marlboro, and 'Sugarfoot Youth Jazz Band' under the direction of Art Hovey from Milford.

Musicians from Cheshire, West Port, Colchester, Middle Haddam, Marlboro, Southington, Madison, Guilford, Watertown and more, formed the two bands.

The session was a time for high school students to jam and was open to the public for anyone who wanted to jump in.

The music was free, but that should have shocked listeners -- these cats were good.

Around 35 people attended, mostly family and friends, but a few who simply heard about the jam and decided to stop by.

Phelps announced 'Joe Avery's Piece' and three musicians sitting in the audience grabbed their instruments and joined.

Saxophonist Lomar Brown, 19 and his trumpet-playing brother Keaon Brown, 17, from Rocky Hill heard about the jazz jam through word-of-mouth and decided to check it out.

Lomar said he started playing saxophone eight years ago and jazz is his passion, "the feeling you get from it -- it's happiness."

The musicians laughed and high-fived as solos bounced from trumpet, to keyboard, to saxophone, to clarinet, even to tuba. Their sandals, sneakers, flip flops and bare feet kept tapping.

Emma Sayles[Caption: Emma Sayles (left), 17, from Colchester plays in both bands with her drumming twin sister Molly. "Carting kids all over is not a problem for parents, because we get to listen to great music once we get there," said the girls' mother Gracie Sayles. "The kids are doing something they enjoy and the parents can sit and enjoy it with them." Photo by Colleen Kopp.]

"Jazz is controlled freedom. It's as free as you can get without cacophony," said Hovey, who practices with his band whenever they get a chance and performs at various festivals.
Jazz is a technical and musical "form of expression" said Phelps, who organized the night.

14 year-old Danny Selzer from Cheshire has been playing tuba for four years. "I'm not quite sure what I like about jazz," he said, looking over at the music and smiling.

Maybe because it just feels good.

The musicians continued to jam and solo, as the sun went down and their music spilled out from the cultural center's sanctuary and onto the street.