We caught up with Sean Miller from Hull Music Service to find out about opportunities for budding young jazz musicians in Hull.
Q: We know, from working with you over the past few years, that you’re doing a lot of great work in jazz education in Hull. Why is it important to you that young musicians are exposed to jazz and given the chance to get involved?
A: I think that a Jazz education in particular opens up students to such a wide range of skill sets, particularly in relation to developing their ear and improvisational skills. Many styles of music develop young people’s reading and ensemble skills but Jazz has that added ingredient of enabling musicians to be able to create art in the moment. The creative process through individual and group improvisation happens on stage in real time.
Q: What are the regular jazz and jazz-related activities that young players can get involved with in and around Hull? And how can they get involved?
A: Any young person from around Grade 5 standard can ask to come and join the Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra which rehearses at the Albemarle Music Centre most term time Wednesdays from 7.30pm-9.30pm. Just contact the Hull Music Service to get involved. Then there are lots of projects across the year that we link with around the region and nationally such as Music for Youth, the Great North Big Band Jazz Festival and other local Jazz Festival projects.
I would also encourage young people to get together with their friends and set up their own small jazz groups where they can listen, rehearse and also write music for themselves. That creative process is what it’s all about!
Q: Jazz sometimes has a reputation for being difficult to learn. What would you say to someone who was a bit apprehensive about giving jazz a go?
A: Jazz is an open door and welcomes anyone in. It enables you to learn to express yourself through music and, most importantly, engage with others through collective improvisation. There is nothing to be afraid of.
For me it is the ultimate musical vehicle for self-expression. As I said before the art happens in the moment and is not pre-prepared then presented like so many other art forms are. Yes, of course you have to practice hard to get good but seeing the fruits of your hard work is so much fun!
Q: We know that you’re working on some special projects this year, can you tell us a bit about what’s coming up?
A: The big thing is the inaugural Jazz Education Open Day as part of the Hull Jazz Festival on Saturday 16th November at the Albemarle Music Centre. We’re partnering with other local music services to put on a ‘Humberwide!’ event with a variety of workshops, performances and presentations for local Jazz musicians to engage with. Full details will be announced soon – watch this space!
Q: A lot of your work’s about introducing young people to jazz. What 5 tracks would you choose for a beginner’s guide to jazz playlist?
A: I’ll go for 5 albums instead:
The Complete Recordings of Billie Holiday and Lester Young
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
Night Train – Oscar Peterson
Smokin’ at the Half Note – Wes Montgomery
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane