Jazz artists perform, share gender perspectives

During a master class on Monday, two jazz musicians said the genre of music is often misunderstood, but carried a deep story and a flexible meaning.

AClassic jazz melodies filled the Community Folk Art Center Monday evening during a master class led by the saxophonist Jazmin Ghent and bassist Gerald Veasley, the participants nodded and smiled to the beat of the music. Musicians of all ages and skill levels – the youngest being a sixth grade saxophonist – were invited to the stage to share a moment that conveyed what jazz is all about: community engagement and cultural impact, a said Tanisha Jackson, Executive Director of Community Folk. Art center.

“Every time I’m on stage I’m aware that it’s a moment here. It is a moment that will not be repeated ”, Veasley said during a panel discussion at Bird Library, preceding the master class.

At the panel, Veasley and Ghent both shared their perspectives on jazz, the genre of music they know so well and how it has evolved to connect with today’s audiences.

The discussion, sponsored by the Community Folk Art Center in honor of Black History Month, was part of a series of events engaging the campus community with a dialogue about jazz and its roots in Afro culture -american.


As a jazz artist in his twenties, Ghent said that a common misconception with jazz is that, because it was born so long ago, many people think it can only be enjoyed by older generations. In light of this, she said she took responsibility, as a member of the younger generation, to merge jazz with other styles of music, such as hip-hop and R&B, to reach today’s audience.

“Jazz has a great future, and I think it all depends on how it’s presented,” Ghent said.

Veasley stated that jazz is an art form that has embraced other elements of music from the very beginning, be it blues or Brazilian music. The more people try to restrict the qualities of the musical genre, “the more jazz means no,” he said.

Veasley works with jazz across multiple mediums not only as a world-renowned bassist, but he is also curator of the Philadelphia “Unscripted” jazz series, founder of the international Bass Boot Camp program and host of the Berks Jazz Fest.

He added that the word jazz has a meaning built into it. This meaning is positive for people who love it, but less defined for people who “distrust” it.

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Saxophonist Jazmin Ghent (right) speaks during the master class she led alongside Gerald Veasley. Veasley and Ghent compared playing jazz to learning a foreign language. Émilie Steinberger | Design editor

“It’s such a broad term and such a broad art form that most people with a little patience could find something that resonates with them,” he said.

This is why today’s jazz musicians have the important role of communicating the sense of the increasingly progressive musical genre to an audience that has a limited vision or connection, Veasley noted.

When it comes to jazz students, both musicians agreed that understanding the core of the musical genre remains an integral part of the process. Developing an appreciation for the work of historically renowned jazz artists, including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker, helps lay the foundation upon which aspiring artists can build on their own music.

Veasley and Ghent compared playing jazz to learning a foreign language. If you didn’t grow up speaking French you can’t suddenly be expected to converse in French, Veasley noted.

Ghent attributes her own musical roots to her parents, who exposed her to a number of contemporary jazz artists as a child. Her mother, Deborah Ghent, said she wanted her children to enjoy music, so when her daughter was five, she enrolled her in piano lessons.

“I always wanted to play, but we didn’t have room in the house for a piano, so I thought I could pass that on to them,” Deborah said.

Then one day she brought home a saxophone.

“I told her you can play that in a band… and maybe when you go to college you can get a scholarship and that will help us pay for college,” she said. .

Now the two work as a team, traveling together to performances. Ghent said she was grateful for her mother and wouldn’t be where she is without her.

The early introduction to jazz paid off for Ghent as it won the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. While performing at major festivals and venues around the world, she has also produced three Billboard # 1 singles: “Work Spirit It “,” Heat “and” In relation to what “.

Family support is something Veasley said he took it for granted. He said his family had always understood the musician in him and considered being a professional musician a very serious thing, even though they were not musicians themselves.

Throughout his career as a music teacher, Veasley says he tries to be a support figure for those who don’t.

“In my own way, I try to do this for the young people of today to let them know that it is a really honorable and great thing,” he said.

Ada J. Kenney