“The learning is when the magic happens.”
That’s how Vince Genualdi, director of bands at Buffalo Grove High School, described the inaugural Chicagoland Jazz Workshop. A total of 12 area high school jazz bands converged on the school Saturday, and while it resembled Jazz in the Meadows — with ensembles taking the stage to perform their set before college clinicians — this one was different.
“The focus was on the 40-minute clinics,” Genualdi says, “and not so much on the performance.”
In other words, there were no prizes or bragging rights at stake for the best performance. Saturday’s workshop was about playing in front of college professors and professional musicians, and getting their feedback on how to play better. Clinicians worked with each band on stage immediately after their performance and then in the band or orchestra room afterwards for the longer session.
The inaugural event drew multiple bands from Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Warren Township and Wheeling high schools, as well as from Cooper Middle School in Buffalo Grove.
“The clinicians rehearsed with them as they would with their own college program,” Genauldi says.
Consider this “all-star” line up: Chris Madsen, Director of Jazz Studies at Loyola University; Reggie Thomas, Director of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University; Scott Burns, Director of the Jazz Workshop at DePaul; Victor Garcia, a freelance musician and jazz trumpet teacher at Roosevelt; Eric Binder, drumline and jazz ensemble coordinator at Roosevelt; Clark Sommers, professional bass player and composer; and Bryan Itzkowitz, a Buffalo Grove graduate and jazz director at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Mundelein.
“It was cool to be a part of this inaugural workshop,” Itzkowitz said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have great jazz educators all along the way, that got me excited about the genre. This was a way to pay it forward.”
The workshop took place one month before the venerable Jazz in the Meadows, which takes place Feb. 25 at Rolling Meadows High School and typically draws up to 100 middle school and high school jazz bands. The Mundelein Jazz Invitational, now in its 56th year, is set for March 11.
Genualdi credited members of the Buffalo Grove Instrumental Association for hosting the 200 students and their families. Overall, he said, it was a good day.
“Anytime you can expose your kids to high level clinicians,” Genualdi said, “the only byproduct is success.”