February-11th-2005, 08:44 AM
Down in Mississippi
Jazz musicians move Pascagoula students
All that jazz
By VIVIAN AUSTIN
PASCAGOULA - Robert Madson secured autographs of jazz musicians Bobby Watson and Thelonious Monk Jr. following a lively and interactive music session with students at the Pascagoula High gymnasium Wednesday morning.
"It's a real great experience," said the 15-year-old, who plays tenor saxophone. "It makes it real that there are people out there with similar desires."
Watson, Monk and other band members visited PHS as part of the school's observance of Black History Month. Monk, son of jazz composer and pianist Thelonious Monk, uses "Jazz In America: the National Jazz Curriculum" to bring jazz and its history to students across America.
Northrop Grumman Corp. funded the Mississippi Public School Tour with assistance from Sen. Thad Cochran. The tour included Jackson, Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Pascagoula. The group also visited Gautier Middle School.
"We are about young people," said Monk, chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He advises students to listen to a variety of music styles.
Watson, a saxophonist, pianist Richard Johnson, bass player Derek Nievergelt and drummer Otis Brown III treated the students to several improvised jazz melodies, including a Herbie Hancock piece and Watson's version of "Amazing Grace."
The students danced, cheered and gave standing ovations. Guest singer Lisa Henry had them sing along with "I'm Going to Kansas City," and surprised them by singing "Meet the Flintstones," which she said is jazz music.
J.B. Dyas, project director of Jazz in America, gave history lessons about the origins of jazz, and a music lesson that demonstrated how jazz is composed and played by chorus that allows each musician to play independently yet still as a unified group.
"It was good. I don't even like jazz, but I liked this," said Crystal Davis, 17. "This made me want to play jazz. Maybe I'll join the jazz band next year."
February-11th-2005, 08:49 AM