New York City jazz is coming to the Cannon School.
Brad Davis, director of jazz at Cannon School, has found a shortcut between the two cities that will pipe some of the world’s best jazz musicians, live in concert from Lincoln Center, into the school’s new performing arts center.
For the next three months, audiences will tap into the Jazz at Lincoln Center Concert Series, courtesy of an online feed played through the school’s big screen and audio system.
The series features music performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a compilation of musicians considered contemporary greats. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis serves as the band’s artistic director.
Each concert has a theme. Last month’s audience took a trip to the 1930s with “Sherman Irby’s Journey Through Swing.” On March 27 at 7:30 p.m., they’ll listen to Paquito D’Rivera’s “Around the Americas.”
“So many don’t get the opportunity to see live music performed well. I think everybody needs to do that as much as they can,” Davis said.
He attended graduate school just outside New York City, and recalled studying with his professors by day, then taking the train into the city to hit jazz clubs, he said.
Although jazz can be intimidating for those who are unfamiliar with it, experts say everyone instinctively knows what’s good about it.
“The elements in jazz that I think grab people, that make you want to tap your foot and bob your head, these are the things that you don’t have to be well-versed in,” said Davis. “When you hear good jazz music, you feel it, and it draws you in.”
Since launching as a department in 1991, Jazz at Lincoln Center has made outreach to communities one of its top priorities. Through educational programs for school children and streamed webcast performances for those outside city limits, its intention is to keep the history of American jazz alive.
Davis will carry on that tradition, offering a 30-minute conversation before each concert to give context of what was happening in the United States and the musicians’ lives that could have influenced their music.
“A good jazz soloist is telling you a story through their instrument,” he said. “If you’re an active listener, you’ll hear that story. It’s got a beginning, a middle and an end, and you can hear it.”
Performances will take place at the Cannon Performing Arts Center – the school’s new multimillion dollar, 450-seat theater, equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system.
Davis said the theater’s size – not too big or too small – makes it the ideal setting for creating a feeling of intimacy between the audience and the performers.
“You feel a connection to the stage. That’s key to a good performance, having that connection with your audience,” he said. “I hope they have a good time.”
Lisa Thornton is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lisa? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go?
Jazz at Lincoln Center Webcast Concert Series; hosted by the Jazz Program at Cannon School.
7:30 p.m. March 27 - Paquito D’Rivera - “Around the Americas”
7:30 p.m. April 24 - John Scofield and Taj Mahal celebrate Muddy Waters
7:30 p.m. May 15 - Wayne Shorter with Wynton Marsalis.
Admission is free. The shows are open to the public and suitable for all ages. Cannon School Performing Arts Center is at 5801 Poplar Tent Road, Concord. For details, go to www.cannonschool.org.