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First Friday Music Club: News

Shakespeare & All That Jazz w/ Delfeayo Marsalis - November 7, 2011

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Marsalis to lead 'Shakespeare & All That Jazz'

Nov. 9 concert here culminates trombone star's 3-day residency here

Delfeayo Marsalis, the trombone-playing member of New Orleans' internationally famed Marsalis jazz family, will perform Wednesday night at the Neurosciences Institute Auditorium in La Jolla.

The all-ages 7:30 p.m. concert is a collaboration between the San Diego Shakespeare Society and Point Loma's First Friday Club. It will team Marsalis with members of the Correia Middle School Jazz Band, the Point Loma Nazarene University Jazz Band and Glen Fisher Con Alma, the four-man Latin-jazz band led by bassist and First Friday mastermind Fisher, one of the area's leading champions of jazz for young people.

Wednesday's performance will feature 10 of the movements from Marsalis' newly arranged version of "Such Sweet Thunder." An epic, 12-part suite that was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, the original version debuted in 1957 and was inspired by (and based on) various Shakespearean characters and themes.

"About 35 of our students will be involved in the concert," said Marc Dwyer, Corriea's music director.

"We were contacted in September by the San Diego Shakespeare Society and they were looking for guidance on how to combine jazz and Shakespeare. Glen and I brainstormed and Glen recalled that Delfeayo had just released his version of 'Such Sweet Thunder.' So, we contacted him and he was very excited about coming here."

Marsalis' newest album, "Sweet Thunder," was released in January. As a student at the University of Louisville, he wrote his thesis on Ellington and Strayhorn. Wednesday's concert will feature revamped parts of the original Ellington/Strayhorn score and freshly written music by Marsalis. It will also include a Marsalis-penned dialogue -- to be read by Correia students -- that imagines a conversation between the trombonist and Shakespeare. The concert culminates Marsalis' three-day residency at Correia, which has had a jazz program for students since 2006.

Marsalis, 46, is the brother of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, saxophonist (and former "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" band leader Branford Marsalis and drummer Jason Marsalis. Their father, pianist Ellis Marsalis, is one of the nation's foremost jazz educators. The four siblings and their father this year were recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, the nation's most prestigious honor for jazz artists.

Like his brothers Wynton and Branford, Delfeayo Marsalis cut his teeth as a member of jazz drum icon Art Blakey's famed band, The Jazz Messengers. He went on to work with two other drum legends, Max Roach and Elvin Jones, as well as producing albums for his father and brothers and such luminaries as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Harry Connick, Jr.

This marks the fourth consecutive year that Corriea has brought a nationally prominent jazz artist to the school to teach, lecture and collaborate with its music students.

"Last year we had (trombonist) Bill Watrous, in 2009 we had (keyboardist) Rob Mullins and we started in 2008 with (trumpeter) Brian Lynch," said Corrieia music director Dwyer. "Our collaboration with Glen Fisher really enables us to do this, along with the great support we get, financially, from the parents and the community, and their desire to bring the best to our students."

by George Varga, Union Tribune, Night and Day

First Friday Club: San Diego's 'School of Rock' - October 25, 2010

First Friday Club: San Diego’s ‘School of Rock’

BY POINTWEEKLYEDITOR ⋅ OCTOBER 25, 2010

Cara Bell O’Doniel

Staff Writer

 

Photo by Cara Bell O'Doniel. Members of the First Friday Club rock out Oct. 16 at PLNU's Fall Festival.

Drums smash, guitars whine and basses thump while Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” blasts over the speakers. A small boy with a large red electric guitar steps up to the front of the stage and flawlessly plays the elaborate solo featured in the middle of the rock and roll classic. The boy is 12 years old.

In fact, all of the musicians playing the song at PLNU’s Fall Festival Oct. 16 were young, their ages ranging from 12 to 17. Glen Fisher, founder of the First Friday Club, guided the children as they played other classic songs, including “Come Together” by the Beatles, but he didn’t lead them. The kids knew exactly what they are doing. The band was set up with two drum sets, three electric guitars, two electric basses and a keyboard, but they didn’t sound like a cluttered junior/high school band. They sounded, well, professional.

The First Friday Club is a music school. Fisher teaches kids ages 6 to 18 lessons in guitar, drums, bass and keyboard. Fisher is a well-known musical figure in Point Loma and around the world. A professional bassist, composer and  musical director in Europe, South America and the United States, Fisher studied jazz at the University of California in San Diego and classical music at the Vienna Academy of Music in Austria.

Fluent in four languages, Fisher composes and teaches in Spanish, Portuguese, German and English. “Music has opened every single door there is for me,” said Fisher. “I met my wife playing music, I’ve traveled the world playing music, I’ve gotten special attention playing music, like going backstage and getting free stuff.”

Fisher starts his students off with classic rock and helps them get a few gigs under their belts. “Classic rock is simple, and there are a lot of easy levels you can add onto it,” said Fisher. “I make sure [the kids] get a foundation, some kind of tradition.”

When budget cuts started to take a toll on the music programs in local San Diego elementary and middle schools in 2000, people like Fisher started to become active in their communities. “There are other people doing this all over the country,” said Fisher. “‘School of Rock’ kind of stuff.”

The Paul Green School of Rock in San Diego is another. The school offers rock and roll lessons to students ranging from 7 to 18. Fisher, however, said he teaches his kids something more.

“Improvisation is the goal. Once the kids start getting into high school they start getting into jazz,” said Fisher. “If they can make something out of nothing and deal with the sophistication of jazz harmony, which is very difficult, then they’ve got it.”

Fisher also teaches at Correia Middle School, where he has more than 300 students. He coaches the guitar class at Correia for four hours a week and the jazz band for one hour a week, and he brings in professional musicians to help inspire the kids. The kids not only continue to experience the joy of playing an instrument and performing onstage, but also learn how to present themselves in front of people, work as a team, act responsibly and communicate well.

“By creating venues for kids to perform, teaching private lessons and coaching rock, jazz and blues bands from ages 6 and up, we are helping hundreds of kids realize their potential as musical artists,” said Fisher on the First Friday Club website.

On the first Saturday of the month, Fisher puts together a band of his kids and plays at the Humphrey’s Backstage Music Club.

“Glen Fisher does things that no one else can do,” said restaurant manager Michael Prichard.

And the First Friday Club hasn’t just made fans out of San Diego parents and schools. Former San Diego Padres marketer and current sports blogger Andy Strasburg said in 2003, “In the last 30 plus years the evolutionary process of music has produced highly sophisticated, dedicated, talented, sensitive, and compassionate humans such as Glen Fisher.”

So what’s next for the First Friday Club and Fisher? With a private Halloween party at the San Diego Yacht Club and more concerts in the next couple of months, the road ahead looks promising. “I think that the time is right for this,” said Fisher. “People are asking for it. All I want for these kids is for them to have fun and get prom dates — some social credibility.”

So what’s next for the First Friday Club and Fisher? With a private Halloween party at the San Diego Yacht Club and more concerts in the next couple of months, the road ahead looks promising. “I think that the time is right for this,” said Fisher. “People are asking for it. All I want for these kids is for them to have fun and get prom dates — some social credibility.”

Correia Middle School Workshop Inspires! - May 25, 2010

 

CORREIA'S GOT JAZZ!
        In May our very own Correia Jazz Ensemble students had the unique opportunity of working with jazz saxophonist John Rekevics, bassist Glen Fisher, and the band Con Alma.  During this two-weekArtist in Residence series, students worked with these professional musicians developing their jazz improvisation skills and their overall understanding of jazz technique and jazz language. 
    On May 19th the Jazz Ensemble and Con Alma gave joint performances for the Correia student body during two school-wide assemblies and then gave a third performance at Dizzy's jazz clubin downtown San Diego. Both ensembles performed music learned during the two-week Residency Series.
    Getting the chance to perform their music with professional musicians in a San Diego jazz club was a highlight of the year for our students. Students came away from the experience inspired, refreshed and excited about the jazz art form.   
    CIMA would like to give thanks to The First Friday Club, and the Corriea Association for their partnership in funding the Artist in Residence Series and school-wide assemblies.  It has been quite evident this year that all three organizations have come together as a team to support expanded programs that enhance student learning in music education.

 

 

APE- Advanced Performing Ensemble - January 7, 2010

Great News- Glen had another great idea!!!
A fabulous internationally acclaimed singer, Kevin Lettau, moved back into our neighborhood, and Glen wants to make sure she stays here! So he creates a choir/ensemble class for mostly High School students, where Kevin teaches the vocals and Glen coaches the instruments. Max Zape accompanies the group on piano. APE is off to a great start. The Peninsula Singers where gracious enough to allow them to perform a short set before their Holiday concert on December 9, 2009. In addition we started a new tradition with the first Annual New Years Concert at Humphrey's Backstage Music Club, where the singers performed alongside Peter Sprague, Tripp Sprague, Kevin Lettau, Glen Fisher Con Alma, and other guests. It was a packed house and everybody sounded GREAT!

U-Tube videos of the kids & other great stuff - July 3, 2009

First Friday Club connected to the world... this is what we are all about!!! Check out First Friday Club recording from September 2005 and 'Scrapin' the thing' a song written in honor of 79 year old guido player J.R. Also epic footage from Winstons with Glen and Mark Fisher (Fish and The Seaweeds).

Grammy winner Brian Lynch at Correia Middle School - May 17, 2008

 

San Diego Union Tribune
Mia Taylor 
May 17, 2008

POINT LOMA – He almost looks out of place – the stylishly dressed man in a pinstriped jacket, black hat and matching black pants, standing amid a group of Correia Middle School students wearing Hawaiian shirts. But then he hushes the students, begins tapping his foot on the stage floor and lifts a shining silver trumpet to his mouth.The students, who moments before were laughing, talking and fidgeting, lift their own instruments and begin playing along. Suddenly, the group comes together seamlessly, filling the middle school auditorium with the rhythms of Latin jazz.  But it's not just any jazz arrangement the students are playing. It is the jazz composition of a Grammy-winning musician. And the band's leader today, the man with the shining silver trumpet, is the Grammy Award winner who wrote the arrangement  For three days this week, music students at Correia Middle School had the opportunity to work with Brian Lynch, the 2007 winner of the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year for his album, “The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Recording Project – Simpatico.”

Lynch's visit to the school was arranged by parent Glen Fisher, who has played with Lynch in the past. Fisher, founder of the nonprofit First Friday Music Club, which focuses on expanding musical opportunities for students, secured funding for the visit from the Ryan Family Charitable Foundation and Yamaha.

Lynch held an improvisation master class with students and led several jazz band rehearsals, all in preparation for a final concert Wednesday, during which he performed two of his own arrangements with the school jazz band.

“I think I learn more than any of the kids do when I do this,” said Lynch, who lived in San Diego for a year before moving to New York, where he is on the faculty of New York University. “When working with students, especially this age, you're always breaking things down and increasing your own conceptual awareness of what you are doing.”

Marc Dwyer, Correia's music director, said Lynch is the first Grammy winner to visit the school. He said the experience was invaluable, highlighting for students what it takes to be a professional musician and providing them with one-of-a-kind lessons about music fundamentals.

“I have very able jazz improv students and what he's done is come in and helped take them to the next level,” Dwyer said.

Taking students to the “next level” meant a variety of things for each student.

For John-Lancaster Finley, 13, the workshops allowed him to understand for the first time that a solo should have a beginning, middle and an end.

Matt Vacchi, a 14-year-old trombone player, said Lynch helped him develop the courage to solo more often.

And Katie Pickle, 14, developed a deeper understanding of building scales and rhythm patterns.

“It's really pretty amazing for me, after being a musician for just four and a half years, to work with a Grammy winner,” Katie said. “I definitely learned a lot about improvs. He can do such crazy things. He can build off nothing and make amazing notes and musical sounds and some pretty crazy rhythms.”

As the students squeezed in a few final moments of rehearsal with Lynch before their performance Wednesday, parent Laura Calloca stood in the wings, proudly snapping pictures.

“This is like a kid in Little League playing baseball with Tony Gwynn,” she said.

 

Silver Gate Elementary Rocks! - March 2, 2007

SILVER GATE ELEMENTARY ROCKS!

On March 2nd, 2007 Silver Gate Elementary School had their second lunch time concert in a series of First Friday Music Club performances scheduled for the rest of the year. It was the parents’ time to shine… and did they shine! The stars were Joe Allen on guitar & vocals, Christian Nazarian on acoustic guitar & vocals, Linda Renouf on guitar & vocals, Diana Glover and Richard Irby on guitar, Darren Correia and Austin Bunn on drums. Kids, Parents and Teachers all boogied while listening to tunes by Johnny Cash, Lynrd Skynard, Allman Brothers and many more! To end this incredible performance their kids joined in with them for a quick jam session! Seth Irby, Jake Glover, Kenny Sullivan all played their guitars and Rachel Renouf played the keyboard. Needless to say the school was truly rockin'!

The next two performances will feature the bands from Dana Middle School and Correia Middle School.

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