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Improvisation in Music & Dance

Jazz For Young Ears

Everything Jazz.  Blasco Library welcomes Protzman collection.

MIAC 2014-2015 Season, Chris Brubeck picture

Manchester Craftsmens' Guild Summer Events 2014

Lewiston, N.Y. Jazz Fest 2014

Fri., Oct. 17 -- 8 p.m.

SoMar Dance WorksWalker Recital Hall, Mercyhurst University, 501 East 38th St, Erie, PA

An innovative adventure in sound and dance which will bring together improvised jazz music from the Allen Zurcher Quartet with improvised dance by students from the SoMar Dance Works, who are also students at Mercyhurst University's Dance Department. Should be fun!

Improvisation in Music.

  1. Spontaneous, in-the-moment improvisation is an integral aspect of jazz music.  While found in many other musical genres, improvisation is a core characteristic in the art of jazz. From the earliest days of Dixieland group improvisation to the breathtaking flights of individual solo performances in the ensuing years, as well as the sometimes under appreciated improvised supporting performances by rhythm section and other accompanists, the skill of finding ways to make meaningful, expressive music on the spot is a crucial element that makes jazz what it is.

Peterson, Blaetz, Zurcher, FergusonMembers of the Allen Zurcher Quartet are:

  •    Zurcher -- saxophones and flute
  •    Sheldon Peterson -- guitar
  •    David Blaetz -- bass
  •    Matt Ferguson -- drums
In-School Jazz Clinics in Erie

Dr. Allen Zurcher, Mr. TeCulver and Dr. Scott MeierThis Spring, JazzErie Education Committee members Dr. Scott Meier and Dr. Allen Zurcher  again conducted a series of in-school Workshops for elementary and middle school students in the Erie Area.  Sponsored by JazzErie and Gannon University's Schuster Foundation, the workshops represent part of JazzErie's efforts to expose area students to the excitement and joy of jazz music.

At a Workshop at Harding Elementary School on May 16, I observed a terrific presentation by Dr.'s Meier and Zurcher to two enthusiastic of students in the Music Room at Harding Elementary School in Erie, hosted by Harding music teacher Dennis TeCulver. and got some very encouraging news from TeCulver.
Interactive show.

The program began with a brief discussion and video on origins and history of jazz.  Then the really fun part, a quick tutorial on how saxophones work, including a chance for the students to get a close-up look, and to touch and heft a soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone. (It was universally agreed that the baritone was REALLY heavy, and the kids loved putting their arm up its bell, in spite of Scott's warning about the squirrel inside.)

Highlight of the Workshop was a live demo of improvising by the two musicians.  First using a structure of simple, familiar tunes, then moving on to a free musical "conversation" using music not words, Allen and Scott played and the kids got it.  Lots of questions from the kids.

MIAC 2014-2015 SEASON

Mercyhurst University’s Institute for Arts & Culture has announced its schedule for the coming year.  Within the broad array of performances and productions announced by new Programming Director Christine Oliver are some of particular interest to jazz fans.







In the “It’s not jazz, but…” category:  SAMITE, a Ugandan musician playing flute, kalimba, marimba, litungu and singing has toured in Africa and the U.S., and will bring his music and stories  to Walker Recital Hall, on the Mercyhurst campus on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.  He will be share the stage with Grammy winner David Cullen for the engagement.

Adults $25, Seniors $20, Students $10.

More “It’s not jazz, but…”:  BEN SOLLEE, singer/songwriter/cellist comes to the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center on Thurs., Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.  Sollee presents a “unique mix of folk, calypso, bluegrass, jazz & R&B” and has gained a substantial following on tour and in the media.

The HeliotropesCome early, enjoy complimentary tastings from Erie’s Lavery Brewing Co., and listen to Erie’s own folk/jazz/rock originals from THE HELIOTROPES, before Sollee takes the stage.

Adults $30, Seniors $25, Students $20.

Next Generation 2014

Student vocalist Leah Mathie, with the Misery Bay Big Band, sings "Over the Rainbow." at JazzErie's Next Generation concert, May 21, 2014.  The concert was held at Gen. McLane High School in Edinboro and attended by over 200 students, family members, school staff, JazzErie members and jazz fans.