We had jazz trombonist Ray Anderson here this week. I had heard a lot about him, so it was great to finally meet him. Very sweet man, very gifted musician.
In three days, he did a jazz workshop, a concert, two master classes and a few lessons. As Ron Rudkin, our jazz director said, Ray “was so dynamic on stage as a performer and soloist with the band that the whole crowd was fired up throughout his set – so much so that the audience demanded an encore, “St. Louis Blues,” which he then followed with a completely unplanned New Orleans march with the band playing a song he had taught them in a workshop “– literally marching around the hall to the great delight of all in attendance. Mr. Anderson possesses a singularly transcendent spirit, which was in evidence to all the student musicians on the stage, as well as everyone in the audience.”One standout moment among many: in the jazz workshop, he asked for three volunteers. He then told them to make up the absolutely worst music they could possibly produce, until he gave them a cutoff. The three students proceeded to emit ungodly squarks and woofs from their instruments. When he cut them off, Ray asked, “how did that feel?” “Liberating,” one of the students replied, and Ray proceeded to expound on the inner critic we all have telling us all the things we’re not supposed to do, and how good it is to banish that critic from time to time and just let things happen.

Good lesson for performers; good lesson for composers.

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