The distinctive sound of jazz echoed through The Ursuline School on May 25, 2022 as middle school and high school students learned “how to find our song through the blues.” Famous jazz trumpeter Marcus Printup joined Riza Printup and her band: Regina Carter, violin; Mika Nishimura, keyboard; Alvester Garnett, drums; and Hannah Marks, bass. They led an interactive performance for the school community.
Members of Ursuline's High School Strings brought the house down as they performed “12 Bar Blues.” This was followed by High School Winds players who showed off their “call-and-response” technique as they riffed with the professional musicians.
For these student musicians, the chance to perform the blues in front of the whole school was a true opportunity to stretch outside their comfort zone and grow as musicians. Alto saxophone player Solana said afterwards, “Playing with the jazz ensemble taught me a new way of communication through music. The conversation and interaction between the different instruments is truly unique and beautiful. Having the opportunity to improvise with talented musicians was energizing.” Added Ava, “Being a bassist, I had done blues before, but this experience greatly broadened my view and understanding of how it is created. It led me to appreciate making music for you, not just reading music off a sheet that someone wrote many years ago.”
The students had practiced jazz improvisation with Ursuline music teacher Ms. Kelly Gentry. In addition, they had learned the form of the blues, always 12 bars, when Ms. Printup and the band hosted a jazz and blues workshop for Ursuline middle school students on May 5, 2022. This time Noriko Ueda played bass. At that event, the middle schoolers had the opportunity to form groups and write their own blues lyrics which they then sang, accompanied by the band. It was a very interactive morning!
We were proud to host the workshop and concert featuring acclaimed jazz harpist Riza Printup and her colleagues. Ms. Printup has performed with numerous jazz greats as well as with Yo-Yo Ma, Lady Gaga, and soprano Kathleen Battle. In addition to performing and recording, she is also a dedicated educator. Marcus Printup is a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and has worked with Betty Carter and Wynton Marsalis, among other jazz greats. Violinist Regina Carter is a recipient of the MacArthur “genius” award and is currently on the faculty of The Manhattan School of Music. Drummer Alvester Garnett’s performances range from notable jazz festivals to Abbey Lincoln’s Quartet to Broadway. Mika Nishimura, keyboard, has recently performed at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Apollo Theater. Bass player Hannah Marks is a bandleader, composer and educator. Noriko Ueda, also a bass player, performs with several groups and leads her own trio, performing original compositions.