Monday, April 28, 2014

Our 2014 Scholarship Recipient, Will Gorman

Congratulations & Thanks to all our Student Honorees!

Our honorees in concert, from the bottom left, Will Gorman, piano, Bruce Coluccio, sax, Ini Oguntola, clarinet, Dunham Hall, sax, Nick DiMaria, trumpet, Sam Smith, bass, Lily McGovern, sax, Patrick Leslie, sax, and George Reed Allstar drummer (once a student) Greg Evans.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Meet the George Reed Allstars - Zack Knewstub

Zack Knewstub is a 21 year old pianist from Ithaca, New York. He began playing piano around the age of 12, originally inspired by Ray Charles and Eddie Harris/Les Mccann records given to him by his uncle. From 2008-2010 he attended the The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. He is currently pursuing a degree in Jazz Performance at Purchase College. He has recently studied with renowned pianists Pete Malinverni, Gerard D'angelo, David Hazeltine, and Hal Galper. Zack's primary influences are Barry Harris, Al Haig, and Sonny Clark.

Meet the George Reed Allstars - Greg Evans

Greg Evans is a passionate and captivating performer, pedagogue and composer. His drive, energy and facility on the drum set has given him experience across the spectrum of the music industry. Greg’s influence spans multiple milieus including studio recordings, live clubs/venues, festivals and the classroom.
A native of Liverpool, New York, Evans earned his Masters of Music at Ithaca College (2011) in percussion studies where he studied under the incomparable marimbist, composer, and educator Gordon Stout. It was while completing this degree that Evans also served as the Jazz department’s teaching assistant where he held various teaching duties. Evans holds a Bachelors of Music in jazz studies from the Manhattan School of Music (2009) where he studied under Justin DiCioccio.
Evans has also has an extensive performing career. He has performed in multiple national tours including those of the bands ISM, Remington, and Turkuaz. He has also recorded multiple records with these bands as well as the Danny Rivera Orchestra. Evans has also performed with many artists including: The Count Basie Orchestra,
Jonathan Batiste, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, Joey DeFrancesco, Melinda Doolittle, Kurt Elling, Robin Eubanks, Jimmy Heath, Joe Magnarelli, Eric Marienthal, Branford Marsalis, John Pizzarelli, Hank Roberts, Dave Samules, and Allen Vizzutti. Evans is also a active clinician, having presented at various New York State All-County Festivals, the Oneida Jazz Festival, and Essentially Ellington

Meet the George Reed Allstars - Colin Gordon

Originally from Corning, NY, Colin began playing saxophone at age nine and by the time he was in high school was performing regularly with a variety of local musicians. Colin went on to pursue his musical training studying with distinguished artists Steve Wilson, Jon Gordon, Michael Moore, Eric Alexander and Ramon Ricker. He formally studied music at SUNY Purchase, Prince Claus Conservatory (The Netherlands) and most recently completed his Masters at the Eastman School of Music in 2012.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Interview with "Big Walt" Stinson

Steve Seaberg conducted a digital interview with Walter Stinson last month.  S = Steve & W = Walt

S: How did you happen to become a musician?

W: I wouldn't be a musician if not for a supportive family and nurturing community. My mother played jazz piano and my brother played trumpet so I would spend nights listening to them play standards in the living room and naturally wanted to be a part of what they were doing. My mother told me I should play bass so we could have a trio and I'm very glad she did because I was set on bass from that moment on.

S: I know you are academically talented in many areas. For you, how does music relate to academics and to life in general?

W: Music is a part of everyone's life whether we notice it or not. What I mean is, you don't have to be an avid fan or listener to be exposed to sound and vibrations of the world. There is music everywhere, in the flowing water of a stream, or the whistling of a song-bird, or even the dissonant harmonies of cars honking. There is a natural rhythmic pulse constantly moving that is time. One cannot exist without the other, there needs to be life for there to be music and vice versa.

S: When did you first discover jazz?

W: I must have been 4 or 5 when I started listening to my mother and brother play jazz standards.

S: Tell me what you recall about first meeting George Reed.

W: I first met George through my mentor Bernie Upson. Bernie had a gig in Ithaca and invited me to come sit-in with his band. Mind you, I was in no way "ready" to perform on stage for an audience. I knew very little about theory and did not have tons of experience playing in a group, I basically would copy everything I could from Bernie's playing. However, I'm so grateful that Bernie graciously offered to let me play. It was a definitive experience for me, sitting-in on his gigs was what made me want to be a performer. I was very lucky because George and Gene Cochran were playing with him and you couldn't ask for more inspiring and kind-hearted musicians to play with. I'm sure they made me sound as good as possible, probably much better than my abilities at the time because they are real musicians. Meaning, no matter what the situation is or who they're playing with they will make the best music possible and make the band sound as good as possible all while truly enjoying it. They were so supportive and nurturing. Especially George, I remember having such a genuine warm smile on his face and he had nothing but kind words for me.

S: When did you first perform with George, and what was that like?

W: I think my first gig with George was at Green Pastures, where I played many times with him. Green Pastures was such a special place for many reasons but the main reason was the deep sense of community that emulated in that room. Howard and his family made sure of that. Jazz is a music of the people, I've never really thought it worked in large concert halls where people sat silently and clapped when it was polite to do so. My favorite part of GPs was that the audience was so vocal, so involved in the performance, it was very inspiring to be a performer there, the audience pushed you to always play better and groove deeper. And George knew how to work a room better than anybody, he was such a showman, a true performer. Playing with George at GPs was, and probably still is, my favorite gig.

S: How do you practice? How do you prepare for a performance?

W: I have a practice routine that has stayed pretty constant over the years. The content of what I practice and also how I practice has evolved. I learned as I got older that slow practice is very important, also the ability to break apart a piece to get into each individual detail that makes the piece whole. But no matter what I'm working on, whether it be the Bach Cello Suites, a jazz standard, a contemporary composition of a peer, or scales, I try to have intense focus on nothing but what it is I want to accomplish at that time while constantly breathing through the difficult sections and relaxing, trying to reign in any ego or need to "finish" the task. It's so much more about the process than it is about getting everything right because the process can open you up to new discoveries on your instrument.

S: Tell me what goes on in improvisation.


W: I think the analogy of improvisation being a conversation is an adequate one. However, it is more than that. I've thought a lot about what it means to be in a rhythm section complementing whoever the soloist is. It's not about always following or leading, it's about collectively telling a story. Of course, it has to be done in a way that is tasteful and never consuming. It's extremely difficult to tell a story together with a group of people. Which is why I think the bands that do it the best have been playing together for a long time and know each other on a deep intimate level.

S: Sometimes I know you are on stage with a group of musicians who haven't rehearsed together, and you have no music in front of you, yet it all comes out polished and professional. How does that work? Why isn't it just a mess and noise?

W: Well for starters there's a common language, a shared vocabulary that we all have studied. But even beyond that musicians study and spend countless hours mastering their instrument so that they can be in any musical situation and make the best music possible regardless of whether or not they know the other musicians they're playing with. As I said above, I definitely think it makes a difference but then again I've played with musicians for the first time on a gig and had a great connection with them, the opposite has also been true. Music is so touchy I think. One person in the group could be having a bad day and it could affect everyone else. But the key is not to let the audience know what's happening in your personal life or that you're struggling for whatever reason on your instrument. People like to listen to live music because of the energy and beauty of music being created in the moment so that they can spend an hour or two and not worry about their own personal lives. Nothing upsets me more than when musicians cop an attitude on stage and ruin the vibe of the whole room. One must have enough humility to sacrifice their own drama for the greater good of the performance. It's not that a performer must be disingenuous about how they feel, quite the opposite, they must put out their emotion though their instrument in a way that's not self-gratifying or cheesy. Because it's much more effective to play how you feel than just be visibly upset.

S: Would things have been different for you if you hadn't met George?


W: Of course! Both George and Bernie were such invaluable mentors in my life. I always say they taught me how to play jazz.

S: Tell me about the most interesting venue you've played.

W: Well I guess the most interesting venue I've played was in El Salvador in a town square outside of a museum for their first ever jazz festival last year. It was probably the most people I've ever played for, with the area was packed full of people who most had never really been exposed to music. The sound was terrible it was outdoors, their was weird light shows and smoke machines distracting us, tons of reasons why it wasn't an ideal venue or musical situation. But none of that mattered when after the concert people of all ages grandmothers and grandchildren came up to us with so much love in their hearts and told them how much it meant to them that we performed. It was beautiful. I truly learned then that we take many things for granted in this country, especially the arts. They told me they had never really seen a jazz show before and it was such a new and stimulating experience for them that it touched us all.

S: Tell me about the most interesting people you've played with.

W: The most interesting musicians I've played with are the masters that have been playing all their lives and yet still approach every new musical situation with such an open mind and heart. It's very inspiring to see that you don't have become bitter and get burned out by the music business. George was like that completely. I never once saw him complain about anything and believe me, there were times when he had a right too. There are guys who don't need to be nice, they long payed their dues and have been performing all their lives. They could be complete egotistical dramatic jerks and people would still pay to see them but being kind is just a part of who they are. I believe it's why they were able to do what they did their whole lives.

S: Besides the bass, are there other instruments you play? Is there some other instrument you would like to master?

W: I play a little piano and I like to dabble with any instrument I have access to. I would love to master the bass first :) But then I think the drums and piano are instruments I've always felt deeply connected to.

S: In your opinion, what is the future of jazz?

W: Hmmm, hard to say really. I try not to think about too much. I think there are people who worry about that enough for all of us. I try not to have pre-conceived notions about what jazz is or isn't. I just enjoy making music with great people. But the course of jazz, though many people don't like this, seems to be incorporating other styles of music. There is so much music available to be inspired by and this greatly affects what contemporary jazz musicians write and play.

S: What do you listen to?


W: Everything from delta blues to electronic music. For example, the other day I spent most of my time listening to Oliver Messiaen and Cachao Lopez. My only requirement for what I like to listen to is that it has to be soulful. Meaning that it has to capture me on a deeper level than the surface impression. Music is human expression, whatever I listen to has to express the human experience for me to really get into it. 


S: Who do you emulate?

W: I emulate people who I admire and respect on a personal level such as my family and friends. I of course emulate my incredible teachers. I try now to not emulate too much anymore because I spent a lot of time with that in the past, studying Ray Brown, Oscar Pettiford, Sam Jones, Percy Heath, Charles Mingus, Gary Peacock, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, and George Duvivier just to name a few. But now there are a lot of contemporary bassists who completely inspire me as well. Scott Colley, Doug Weiss, Matt Brewer, Harish Raghavan, Orlando Le Fleming, Ben Street, also just to name a few.

S: What advice would you give to a teenager with talent who wants to pursue music?

W: Well first off, don't give up on your dream. There will be points in your life that are so difficult that you will question everything. It's called existentialism. And its okay if you question it. Following one's dream is not supposed to be easy and happen right away. It takes time to nurture your personal relationships and build something worthwhile. Patience and perseverance are necessary to overcome challenges and obstacles along the way. Keep an open mind and allow yourself to be inspired by the beauty of life.

S: What have I missed? What topics do you think an audience might find interesting or you find interesting that I have not asked you about?


W: Hmm I can't think of anything at this moment but I'll let you know if I think of anything. And I hope you will let me know if you'd like me to elaborate more on anything.

S: Thanks for being a part of what is a “big deal” for us back home.  With a bit a luck, it will be a big deal for all of us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Jazz Scholarship Honorees

Bruce Coluccio


11th grade Corning West High School

Nicholas DiMaria

trumpet and flugelhorn

9th grade, Cicero-North Syracuse High

William Gorman


11th grade, Nottingham High School, Syracuse

Dunham Hall


11th grade, Solvay Central School

Patrick Leslie


12th grade, Horseheads High School

Lily McGovern


11th grade, Genesee Valley Central School

Ini Oguntola


11th grade, Manlius Pebble Hill School

Samuel Smith


10th grade, Skaneateles High School

Thursday, April 3, 2014

George Reed

Why was this man smiling?

He lived with a jazz sensibility, creating delight in the midst of chaos.  He made music and made musicians shine with his collaboration.  He doted on the young and remained youthful throughout his many years.

Legacy is the marriage of the old and the new,  Youngsters with a reverence for tradition, oldsters with a passion for the new.

April 27, 2014, Park Church, Elmira, NY, 3:00 pm, will be a treat to the soul of everyone there to witness.

Commit yourself to an afternoon of delight.

You'll never regret making a prefect choice.

Email for more information...