TU Jazz 2017: Pioneers of the Future

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TU Jazz 2017: Pioneers of the Future

When the English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth published his poem, “The Rainbow” one of the lines he wrote became an iconic rallying call for all of humanity. The line read: The child is the father of man… The poem became one of Wordsworth’s better-known poems more so for this iconic line, which was so leaden with meaning. In literature class layers of meaning were often discussed; that, for instance “an adult is the product of the habits, manners and behavior that he inculcated during his childhood”, but perhaps most poignantly that “the conduct of a child indicates what he will become when he grows up”. But doesn’t the line hold much more meaning? After all as in poetry so also in music any metaphor created can progress exponentially and this is especially true of music – Jazz music – which not only thrives on arithmetic, but also highly complex geometric governed not only by pitch, but in an almost mystic sense, by colour, texture and timbre.

But between the music conservatoire and the University of Life there lies a conundrum thrown up by Horace – no less – who once posited that poeta nascitur non fit a poet is born, not made. And so between the undergraduate – the initiate (acolyte, to the English-speaking world; acolytus, to Horace; akolouthos, to his Greek counterparts) in terms better perceived by the classicists (and there is still Time for them in 2107) – and the graduate that he or she will become – is a grind that (especially) the Jazz of another Time called “paying one’s dues” is yet to come. However, welcoming these undergraduate musicians On the Road, to use Jack Kerouac’s famously stream-of-consciousness (and then some) phrase; the ones who did not fall beside the wayside and thus those who deserve – indeed – demand our attention is de rigueur, if not for anything then at least to urge and encourage them to seek the highest attainable realm of their art. “Born”, indeed, and as they are being “made”…

In academia, courses in the history of music, the history of Jazz, theory, harmony…and so on, are essential to give the undergraduate a sense of his or her place in space and time, but it can only do so much and no more. The “road” is the real test – of nerves and heart – and often even some of the very best musicians find they have no stomach for it. However, there is virtually nothing to fall back on – no record company has artists and repertoire people qualified enough to know the importance of music “to be born by”, and although crowd-funding has become the order of the day, it’s an arduous process. The brave take the plunge, encouraged, no doubt by organisations such as FACTOR, Canada Arts Council, and other provincial Arts Councils, and others. But the effect of having a big stage on which to strut your stuff is clearly irreplaceable; and also somewhat unattainable for most musicians. Until, that is, an organisation called Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival Inc. an independent, non-profit legal entity specializing in innovative live event production and management opened its doors a few years ago.

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