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KCKCC Takes Kansas City Jazz to the World at Texas Convention

Kelly Rogge
Public Relations Officer
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Kansas City Kansas Community College took Kansas City Jazz to Texas and the world earlier this month and came away with resounding results.

Kansas City Kansas Community College took Kansas City Jazz to Texas and the world earlier this month and came away with resounding results.

“If I closed my eyes, listened to the band and was asked to guess where it was from, I would have said Kansas City,” said David McDonald of the U.S. Air Force’s “Airmen of Note,” who adjudicated a performance by the KCKCC Jazz Ensemble.

Four KCKCC jazz ensembles – two instrumental and two vocal – performed for hundreds of jazz educators from all over the world at the 9th Annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) National Convention Jan. 3 to 6 in Dallas, Texas. The largest convention of its kind, the convention drew more than 3,000 jazz performers, educators and students from Canada, South America and Europe as well as the United States.

In addition to the performances, KCKCC Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Justin Binek, presented two clinics – “How to Perform and Communicate as a Duo Using Guitar Approaches to Vocal Accompaniment” and “The Ella-Ments of Scat Singing;” sang with the professional reading ensemble as part of the Vocal New Music Reading Session, which was led by legendary jazz educator Paris Rutherford and played the piano for both KCKCC vocal ensembles as well as the “Trebelaires” women’s vocal jazz ensemble from Blue Valley Southwest High School. Binek featured KCKCC students Taryn Remigio. Michael Schley and Adam Bendor in the “The Ella-Ments of Scat Singing” clinic.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our students, particularly Taryn, Michael and Adam,” Dr. Binek said. “It’s not easy to perform in a teaching demonstration at the front of a room with 150 jazz educators staring right at you, but they did a great job, and they did it with style, class and humility.”

Director of Choral Studies John Stafford served as adjudicator for a high school vocal jazz ensemble from Seattle, Wash.

“The icing on the cake was getting to watch Professor Stafford and Dr. Binek present clinics at the convention. Our students saw them in action and saw how well respected each of them is on a national and even international level,” said Jim Mair, Director of Instrumental Studies at KCKCC. “Our students played as well as they could at this particular time in their development. What was equally gratifying was the way they conducted themselves representing the college with professionalism and humility. A true recipe for success in life.”

Two KCKCC instrumental ensembles directed by Mair - the Fusion Jazz Combo and the Jazz Ensemble - performed at the JENerations Student Jazz Festival. They were adjudicated by Ray Smith, Jazz Studies Director at Brigham Young University and iconic bassist and composer John Clayton. In addition to providing excellent written comments about the ensembles along with ‘real world’ constructive criticism for students, Clayton was particularly complimentary of KCKCC bassist Dieu-Aime Nsikoh, complimenting his “time, feel, energy and thump,” while the Jazz Ensemble drew praise for its overall sense of style.

Stafford’s two groups - the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble and “The Standard,” received excellent critiques for their repertoires, concepts and overall performance levels including a critique from Lauren Kinhan of the Grammy Award-winning ensemble “New York Voices.” She said, the group is “doing a terrific job, especially in that this is such a new group to the idiom.”

Brennan Baglio, of the acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble “Groove for Thought”, echoed Kinhan saying, “I love how they incorporated new technology and a larger rhythm section in their set.” The KCKCC ensemble used a disc jockey with turntables and a B-3 organ and piano at the same time.

“The students did a wonderful job performing and receiving the constructive criticism from the clinicians,” Stafford said. “I was proud of them, not only musically but as representatives of the College in the most positive light.”

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