Because of Connex (see previous post) I was late for the Zac Hurren Trio Jazz for Kids concert at the BMW Edge. Thus my introduction to the gig was on the surreal side of bizarre. I know the venue well and I know that it has resounding wooden floors. I was wearing heels. So I was tippy tippy tippy toe-ing down the loud wooden stairs to sit inconspicuously three rows from the front of the tiered seats. All the kidlets and their parents were down towards the front(ish) having a great time. What made it surreal was this tap tap tapping that was going on. The floors are not the only noisy thing at The Edge. The seats are all wood and the little tackers in the audience had all been given chopsticks at the beginning of the concert (it had completely escaped my attention that the volunteers huddled at the top of the stairs were carrying packets of the things or I would have asked for some of my own!) All those kids playing their chopsticks! On the wooden floors, on the backs of wooden chairs! It added a really interesting (and enjoyable) little thread below all the music that the trio played during the gig. And was fun to watch as well!
Zac's approach to the brief was to do alot of explaining and play tunes that might be recognised by kids, jazzing around with them in ways that also (bravo!) made them enjoyable to those of us who are a little jaded about Sesame Street and Elmo, and ambivalent about the Simpsons theme as music-to-listen-to-at-a-jazz-concert.
A highlight of the concert was young Aaron who, when Zac proposed a blues, put his hand up [ooh ooh, pick me! pick me!] and was invited up on stage by Zac. The trio welcomed Aaron (I reckon maybe 11 years old?) and what a thrill it must have been for him. A testament to the openness that this type of music is supposed to represent and to the skills and abilities of Zac, Sam Anning (bass) and Sam Bates (drums) that they were able to run with this and look like they were having fun. Brought a tear to the eye, it did. And that's no lie. A foot-tappingly good listen as well!
I wondered last year when I attended my first one, what the challenges might be of a 'Jazz for Kids' concert. With an audience ranging in age from baby to grandparent, how do you keep them engaged. Zac seemed keen to impart knowledge and I think some of the older kids who might have been introduced today or recently to jazz would have loved it. Everybody in the room picked up on Zac's ebullience and the warmth emanating from the two Sams... I was doodling in my notebook and wondering how to describe the exact type of success this concert was and I think I may have found it: the train trip home on my Connex train seemed much less grim than the train trip in! Thanks guys!
Here's a bonus pic of Zac hamming it up for the Sun-Herald. And Sam watching. Oh, you guys.