The sound of jazz was in the air at Upper Canada College on Feb. 4.
Boys in the Prep and Upper School jazz bands took part in workshops and improvisation sessions as well as a band clinic during the day. Professional musicians John Jasavala and Alex Dean were invited by Old Boy Mackenzie Longpre ’06 to lend their expertise to the students and share what they’ve learned over their careers.
Dean is one of Canada’s foremost jazz saxophonists.
He leads his own quintet and held the tenor saxophone chair with Rob McConnell’s Grammy Award-winning Boss Brass and the Juno Award-winning Rob McConnell Tentet. He’s played and recorded with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr. and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Jasavala is a trombonist who has played with several orchestras in Ontario and Michigan while founding The Umbrella Brass Quintet. He also teaches trombone at the University of Windsor and Western University. Jasavala worked with the senior jazz ensemble on three competition pieces: “Nancy (With the Laughing Face),” “Gossamar Wings” and “Limehouse Blues.”
All boys in Grades 5 to 7 joined the members of the jazz bands to listen to an afternoon concert in Weston Hall featuring the University of Toronto Big Band. There was also an art display featuring drawings of instruments by Grade 7 students.
The fourth annual UCC Club Blue Note took place at 6:30 p.m. and transformed the Upper School student centre into a candlelit jazz and dessert club. The Prep choir and all of the College’s jazz bands performed in front of an appreciative audience in the intimate-feeling room.
The senior jazz ensemble led by Peter Smith entertained with three numbers: Duke Ellington’s “Oclupaca,” “Round Midnight” with an extended tenor sax solo by Brandon Tse, and the Tower of Power funk classic “Only So Much Oil.” You can watch the performance here.