January 2009

Darearts Jazz Ensemble – We Are One Open Rehearsal
January 8, 2009 Earl Haig Secondary School Toronto
A report by David Fujino
I walked into an auditorium filled with upwards of 200 children's voices singing a Barry Harris arrangement.

That was pretty cool.

Jazz guitarist Brian Katz was conducting and he was asking the kids to say 'things' clearly when they sang, "Give us the things we need".

I attended this open rehearsal for We Are One and sat amongst the young singers from six North Etobicoke elementary school choirs — Albion Heights JMS, North Kipling JMS, Greenholme JMS, West Humber JMS, Emlea JS, and West Humber Collegiate Insitute — and equally enjoyed the sounds of the senior big band, jazz Chorus, jazz section from Earl Haig Secondary School, and the Toronto Jazz Chorus, as they performed from the front of the stage.

The coordinators of all this youthful talent were Marilyn Field's DAREarts Foundation and Howard Rees, a jazz pianist/educator and a documentor of Mr. Harris's methods.

Founded in 1996 by Marilyn Field, DAREarts Foundation Inc. is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that exposes 10,000 children yearly to diverse cultural experiences — all the arts of painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, composing, designing, acting, writing and, in the case of this special project We Are One, major musical duties at the piano were carried out by Howard Rees.

Plus, a rush of 20+ strings with oboe, French horn, and bassoon playing alongside a jazz combo's two saxophones, a trombone, and three trumpets, was a definite listening bonus — more nice sounds, mostly from kids.

We Are One is an encouraging outreach project from the jazz community, facilitated by the DAREarts Foundation, which enables kids to share with classmates the methods and life skills they've learned from singing and playing music with a living master such as Mr. Harris.

These weren't simple children's songs. Harris's melodies, words, and dense harmonies gave you something to listen to, and they pointed toward a better future.

I thought the rehearsal went well, and I hope Mr. Harris is feeling better, because an unfortunate bout of flu had prevented him from attending that day.

But we'll get to hear Barry Harris in concert with special guest saxophonist Charles McPherson and the kids of We Are One on January 22, 2009, 7 pm, at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts.

It's time to share in the kids' hard work and fun.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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