My friend Bob’s daughter Katy plays in her school’s jazz band, and the band was part of this part weekend’s High School Jazz Festival at The Berklee College of Music in Boston. I tagged along with Bob and his wife Sally to check out Katie’s band, and am glad I did.
It was basically a music banquet. The Hynes Convention Center was packed with young musicians, and each school had about thirty minutes to play. There was a massive schedule with well over 200 schools, so I just spent the day going from room to room, checking out one band after another.
The bands played three songs apiece. I checked out the program for schools that had won awards the previous year, and saw some great 17 piece bands, some great small combos, and some thoroughly awesome jazz choirs.
Whenever I go to things like this, they restore a bit of my faith in the world. There’s a ton of depressing headlines in the news, and often, some of it has to do with young people doing terrible things. In fact, to read most news stories you would think that most young folks are terrible, violent, stupid people who will contribute nothing to society.
That wasn’t the case here. In the Hynes Convention Center there were hundreds and hundreds of kind, energetic, talented kids, and they blew me away.
There was the George Stevens Academy Jazz Combo from Maine. Six musicians, five of them women. The vibe player doubled on piano, and the drummer, get this, got up from her set at one point to double on trombone. They played tunes by Bela Fleck and Frank Zappa, and had me at hello.
There was The Lexington High School Jazz Ensemble. Just a seriously tight band, with two soprano saxophonists who played a call and response that compelled me to go up to them afterwards, and tell them how good they were. They were right chuffed, and deserved to be so.
And, of course, there was the Ledyard High School Jazz Band from Connecticut, the reason that I was there. The band was great. Katy was great. Bob a took a lot of photos. Parents do that.
As I was watching, I thought about all the other bands that were playing in all those other rooms, and thought about all the other places that stuff like this was happening. All over the country, every day, there are students who are amazing everyone else with their abilities, making the world a little better. This is the future, after all, and it’s good to be reminded that there are certain aspects of the future that are bright.
And of course, it’s not just music. There are gatherings and conventions and competitions in which students share their art, show off their historical and scientific knowledge, and basically show the rest of us how brilliant they are.
I needed a reminder of what’s good in the world, and am grateful to Bob for giving me the chance to see such a reminder. And, of course, I’m grateful to Katie and all those other young folks for providing me with that reminder.