Customers at Fatu Jalloh’s outdoor café at Liverpool Street abandoned their drinks to sneak up to the Ballanta Academy of Music next door to find out who was playing cool jazz on Saturday.
They sat in with students of the Academy who were attending a masterclass given by the Charlie Porter Quartet, by kind courtesy of the U.S. Embassy.
The four young gifted musicians, Charlie Porter (trumpeter), Adam Birnbaum (pianist), Joseph Lepore (bass) and Quincy Davies (drums), gave their time to listen to the Ballanta band, the RSLAF band, and students from the Milton Margai School for the Blind.
They played some pieces for them, instructed them on how to play the 12-bar blues, and encouraged the students to improvise in the jazz style.
They jazzed up a piece which the RSLAF band played, leaving the players with a sweet smile on their lips as if they had been freed by their new interpretation of the music.
The term ‘jazz’ came from the word ‘jazz’ meaning sex, Charlie Porter informed the students. Jazz was born in New Orleans, and evolved through many permutations and through many great jazz artists like Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, to become America’s music. The influence of African music in the jazz idiom is very strong, especially through the syncopations which is so characteristic of the style. The spirituals of the African slaves also influenced the blues.
In his vote of thanks, Humphrey Soalla-Bell voiced the thoughts of the participants that they wished to have more of such classes and thanked the U.S.Embassy for organizing the classes.
The interaction was very valuable to all, and to many for whom this was a first experience, they found it a liberating and at the same time disciplining experience.
At the end of the class the summary was that it is very important to listen to each other, so that there would be elements of give and take, and to communicate on a musical level so that the result is coordinated and becomes a pleasant experience for both listener and player.
What better medium than music like jazz, for being at peace with your fellow man?