Last week, whether walking through the hallways of buildings, or even taking a stroll outside in Bettenbender Plaza, jazz tunes could be heard everywhere. Good jazz.
A live riff of “Take Five” in one classroom, and an audio track of Thelonious Monk’s hits in another, all mingled with laughter.
This music was not being played by faculty, nor by university students, but by high school students.
“There’s a big venue for jazz among teens, and still a great interest in it,” said Marc Stasio, Assistant Director of the Rutgers Summer Jazz Institute. “We have so many different players, all bringing different elements. It’s dynamic.”
Day one of the institute had the students on a late afternoon bus to NYC for a trip to the “Jazz Standard,” where the Mingus Big Band performed and students ate from a special menu created for just them that evening.
A few days of ensemble rehearsals and master classes later, the Jazz Institute’s barbecue event was held on Thursday evening. The grill was on. The students and counselors had their instruments out. Professors and professional jazz musicians were scattered about, chatting with the students.
“They take away the fact that they studied with New York’s finest jazz musicians,” Stasio continued. “Of course working with the faculty is a high point, but working with the kids and seeing how the students eventually become our university students is the best part.”