On Wednesday 10 November at 10 a.m., the excitement inside the Leshowitz recital hall was palpable. Dozens of students from the John J. Cali School of Music – along with a contingent of television cameras – waited for a master class led by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis.
At 11:30 a.m., cheers, applause, relief and joy were in the air, and the lives of several jazz studies students were forever changed.
Marsalis – having acted during the class as a teacher, trainer, cheerleader, fellow musician, artist and philosopher – left the stage with a transformed MSU Jazz Combo. The event was one of four that Marsalis attended, providing the pinnacle of this fall’s new immersive Cali residency program, a reimagined professional residency program of 10 rotating ensembles and solo artists.
“Seeing myself as an individual and seeing everyone as an individual is so beautiful to me,” said Nico Martin, member of the jazz combo and junior specializing in jazz studies with a focus on the alto saxophone. “I’ve never experienced this with someone I’ve never worked with and I’m so blessed to finally feel what it is.”
Jazz combo tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Romero, who arrived in Montclair State from Peru last year, said simply: “It was wonderful. Such a great experience! ”
The course began with the five members of the combo (percussionist Zack Perez, guitarist Derick Campos and acoustic bassist Nathan Perrucci, in addition to Martin and Romero) playing Cedar Walton’s Bolivia.
After concluding, Marsalis began by complimenting the “very expressive” and “well rehearsed” playing of the group as well as the clear collegiality of the members. “You all play the way you like each other!” “
He then asked, “Now what can we do better? “
Little by little, Marsalis slowly but precisely deconstructs the group and puts it back together, with the ultimate message they needed to listen to and listen to each other.
“First we have to play for the people,” Marsalis said, calling attention to the gathered crowd. “Play for them. This will correct a lot of things.
Senior drummer Zack Perez admitted the encounter with greatness was “very nerve-racking,” but noted that the masterclass structure of playing, learning and adapting in real time was appropriate for the genre. musical. “It’s just a part of jazz. I love that. You feed off the energy of the other.
In the end, “We were successful today. It went well, ”Perez said with relief, adding,“ It was fun. Perez was right about this assessment: Towards the end of the master class, Marsalis told him, “You will improve exponentially because you have the right attitude.” You have sparkle and shine.
“He teaches from a place that is not selfish,” said Oscar Perez, jazz studies program coordinator.
“The thing about Wynton is his humanity,” said Anthony Mazzocchi, principal of the Cali school. “He directly becomes a human being. He talks to them about integrity, honesty and communication.
Marsalis also shared this philosophy with a brass master class this week as well as a discussion on composition and arrangement, and Mazzocchi plans to continue this angle with Marsalis on Thursday, November 11 at the sold-out public event that concludes his residency: “Behind the Scenes with Wynton”, a Californian conversation.
Noting Marsalis’ place in the firmament of jazz superstars, Oscar Perez told the students attending the master class: “We are now part of this legacy.
History of Mary Barr Mann. Photos by college photographer Mike Peters.