The Bumble Bee's View of the Garden:

Opinions on Jazz and other topics
Springtime thoughts about the next generation of musicians

By the time you read this two important annual events on the music education calendar will have past. Still, I would like to bring them to your attention. One is the State Finals for high school jazz bands organized by the Massachusetts Unit of IAJE, the International Association for Jazz Education. Every year jazz ensembles that are part of the music curriculum at high schools throughout the state compete for the honor of performing at the Hatch Shell in May. This year the big concert will take place on the afternoon of May 25. The finals are held at UMass Lowell and take a whole day using three different performing areas. That is a lot of music being played by a lot of young musicians. Although there are some concerns about the focus of high school jazz programs on large ensembles, it is heartening to find so many young people being introduced to jazz music and to find them embracing it so enthusiastically.

The other event, which took place on the same day, is the Jr. District Festival of the Northeasten District of the MMEA, Massachusetts Music Educators Association. This is a performance by three performing groups assembled from the best junior high school aged musicians in the Northeastern area of Massachusetts. The level of musicianship exhibited by these young people is quite remarkable. I have heard performances at these festivals that rival or exceed the quality of college level ensembles. The three parts of the festival feature a symphony orchestra, a concert band and a concert choir. Unfortunately, neither of these events receives much attention in the news media, and if you do not have children of your own involved in them you might never hear about them. However, if you are a music lover and concerned about the next generation of musicians you really should try to get to some of these events.

I regret that I omitted announcement of these in my last column and will try to alert you to good student concerts as I hear about them, if the time frame permits. In the mean time I will refer those of you with Internet access to the Web-sites of the Massachusetts unit of IAJE, http://members.tripod.com/~DFWRENN/IAJE.html, and the Northeastern District of MMEA, http://users.rcn.com/cmn, where the dates of these concerts are posted. (Please Note: since the publication of this article the Mass. State Unit of IAJE has changed its Web-site address to http://www.iajema.org. - P.C. 7/19/02)

Speaking of opportunities to hear young musicians, I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent series of concerts by students at the Department of Music of UMass Lowell. There are several listed in April and May which will take place at either Durgin Concert Hall or Fisher Recital Hall, both located on Wilder St. in Lowell, just south of the river. You can get more information by calling the Department of Music at 978-934-3850 or visiting their Web-site, http://www.uml.edu/Dept/Music.

Although outside the Merrimack Valley area, the Seacoast Jazz SocietySeacoast Jazz Society is presenting an interesting series of free lectures on topics in jazz for the general listener. These are taking place at the Public Libraries of Rye, Dover and Rochester New Hampshire through the month of May and will feature, among others, WGBH's Eric Jackson and internationally respected jazz writer and Boston Globe columnist Bob Blumenthal. More information can be found at SJS's Web- site, http://www.seacoastjazz.org.

There has been some jazz activity at Evos Arts Institute on Middle St. in Lowell, call 978-441-9906 for information, and Giorgio's on Rt. 101A west of Nashua. Im sorry I do not have a number for Giorgio's, but you should be able to hunt them down, I don't think they are hiding. Other venues with live jazz are La Boniche, 978-458-9473, Ricardo's, 978-453-2777 and the Worthen House, 978-459-0300, in Lowell; The Colonial Inn, 978-369-9200, Concord; Acton Jazz Cafe, 978-263-6161, Acton; Glory, 978-475-4811, Andover; Michael Timothy's, 603-595-9334, Nashua, NH; and Casa Veccia, 603 893 6553, Salem. NH. I have left anyone out please let me know. I would also like to mention that Borders Books and Music presents live music, including jazz, at their locations in Methuen, MA, and Nashua, NH. Call them for details.

Please do try to make time for live music in your life. Recordings are nice, I certainly enjoy my collection of them, but there is something in the making of music that cannot be recorded, something that has to be experienced in person. Most especially, try to get out to hear some young musicians, whether at your local grade school, an event like those mentioned above or a music school. Your presence will always be deeply appreciated, and you may find yourself in for a pleasant surprise.