Conservatorium Maastricht Meets New York!

6 - 13 January 2019

With Jazz at Licoln Center, Jazz clubs like Smalls, Iridium, Birdland, Blue Note, Village Vanugard, The Jazz Standard, Mezzrow and with other iconic art and music institutes, New York City is still considered as the epicenter of Jazz.
A connection with this city can’t be missed in the Jazz Programme of the Conservatorium Maastricht. In the second week of January 2019 a selection of 10 students of our department joined our staff at the Jazz Congress at Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, we also introduced our students to the best Jazz schools in the city, the NY Library of Performing Arts,  and closed this special week with the Winterjazzfest marathon.

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Jazz Congress 2019: exchanging ideas to nurture & grow the jazz community
During the congress, many topics were discussed during interesting panels. Especially for the students, this congress was a great fit in their development. The panels were inspirational, philosophical but also very practical, making it easy for the students to apply the new information they've heard. Below, we'd like to zoom in on a few panels which were relevant. Do you want to continue the discussion, or hear more about the experiences? Feel free to open up conversation!
Many panels were live streamed on Facebook during the congress and are still available to watch.

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Ready, Set, Go!
Young, working musicians shared their keys to success for those entering the freelance jazz world. Creating a market for yourself and your skills is hugely important. A discussion incorporating the worlds of performance, education, composition, technology, recording, producing, marketing, networking, and more. In the ever-changing world of technology and independent music, it is necessary now more than ever to put your best foot forward and define your goals and strengths. The panelists set great examples of how a performing musician can use their expertise in music to recognise and develop new tools. It set a great example of how the theory of our Your Art as a Business course could be put to practice in infinite ways.

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Gender, Race, Culture: Safe Spaces
Members of the We Have Voice Collective spoke about the WHV Code of Conduct and the issues that are experienced regularly. The goal remains to develop an understanding of and working toward equity and the creation of safe(r) spaces in the performing arts.
Transgender and gender fluid artists had an open conversation about acceptance, support, and challenges to diverse voices. Transgender artists have been present in jazz for decades, but voices and stories are often suppressed.
Also, an inspirational panel was led about the social, cultural, and racial factors that come in to play that affect an individual's perception, acceptance or rejection of the concept of swing as a rhythm or swing as a feeling or verb. Especially Wynton Marsalis made a point towards “black culture” and how he feels it should be treated.
These topics raised new questions for us as well: How does the American tradition of jazz translate to our European culture? What is the tension in our society when it comes to race and racism? As an international school we should be aware of opinions on these topics not only from our point of view, but from others as well.


Meeting heroes and visiting The New School and Juilliard
We were proud to see that students sunk their teeth into New York. There was not one evening where they didn't attend a concert or jamsession at jazz clubs like Smalls, Iridium, Birdland, Blue Note, Village Vanguard, The Jazz Standard or Mezzrow. One of the highlights was at the Blue Note, witnessing the soundcheck of the Jimmy Heath Big Band and meeting up with Michael Mossman.
The students experienced what it would be like to study in New York. After a tour around Juilliard we headed for The New School where we were invited to have a workshop with David Glasser. David gave them a stimulating and constructive workshop as individuals, but also about jazz in general, what it means to be a musician, and communicating musically while playing together. Singing bebop lines to train your ears on chord progressions, different routes to travel through a blues, and knowing your history on the jazz standards to name a few topics.

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Marius' experience
Marius Loer (drums): I took this picture at a double bill concert with the Kendrick Scott Oracle and Ben Wendel that I went to. Kendrick Scott is one of my favorite drummers and I also had a private lesson with him in the morning of the day of the concert. He shared a lot of knowledge and wisdom with me and explained his approach to playing the drums and the way he practises. I learned a lot from him and to see him perform in the evening was very inspiring and motivating. After the concert I met two young drummers that live in New York. One graduated from Berklee and lives in New York now and the other one studies at the Manhattan School of Music. At another concert I also met a drummer that studies at the New School. Talking with them I got a good impression of how it is to study Jazz in New York from a student’s perspective, which was really nice.


One of Katharina's highlights
Katharina Pfeifer (saxophone): An amazing moment which I won't forget! Meeting Lee Konitz after an amazing concert of the Mingus Big Band. He's 91 years old and a super sympathetic and interesting human being. We talked about fears and joy in music. Even if it was a short chat it was an honour to meet him!