Hot jazz and cool temperatures have always been a successful formula for Concord Community Music School. For decades, local enthusiasts and aficionados made their way to CCMS’s Wall St., Concord building for an annual “Jazz in January” event highlighting the Music School’s Jazz faculty and celebrating the genre.
Following a brief pandemic-induced hiatus, the tradition of winter-time jazz relaunched at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage in downtown Concord. It continues next month with the second annual Jazz Night on March 7 at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage (part of the Capitol Center for the Arts; CCA).
Bassist Matt Hogan, who will be performing at the upcoming event, was one of many community members who expressed his fondness for the event and has been instrumental in the rebirth of the beloved tradition. “I remember seeing CCMS staff onstage at some of the early “Jazz in January” events almost 25 years ago and feeling inspired that my teachers were able to jump in and play such great music while having fun doing so,” he says.
CCMS Executive Director Daniel Acsadi, who first learned of Jazz in January from both faculty and community members like Hogan, who expressed how much they enjoyed having a dedicated event showcasing the school’s jazz programming. Ascadi looks forward to building on the “Jazz in January” legacy and continuing to bring Jazz music to the Concord community. “The Bank of New Hampshire Stage is an ideal venue for a jazz show and is located very close to CCMS,” he says. “We are lucky to have a number of extraordinary nonprofit organizations in Concord like the Capitol Center for the Arts; I know we’ll continue to create beautiful artistic moments and complement Concord’s cultural landscape.”
This year’s event features “The CCMS Jazz All-Stars”, a quartet comprised of Music School faculty and alumni. Group leader and CCMS faculty member Eric Klaxton (saxophone) is joined by Jazz Night veterans Hogan (bass) and fellow faculty member Jared Steer (drums), while Music School alum Mark Shilansky (piano) will be making his event debut. The program is dedicated to the music of drummer Max Roach; a bandleader, composer, and social activist who shared the stage with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis, and who helped shape the civil rights era with his music.
“CCMS has a long history of offering excellent jazz education and has always had jazz faculty known both for being great educators and performers,” says Klaxton. “It’s important for students, families, and the community at large to see that jazz and improvised music remains part of our culture and is a contemporary art form, not just a thing of the past.”
“It’s one thing to show up play a gig, but to put on a proper concert always requires a little creativity to keep your audience engaged,” notes Hogan. For example, at last year’s event, dedicated to the music of famed jazz record label Blue Note Records, Klaxton and Hogan made use of Bank of New Hampshire Stage’s audio/video capabilities and large screen to project the album artwork behind the musicians as they played. They plan to do something similar this year. “We’re fortunate to get to play such an inspiring room and owe it to everyone to try and make something special happen,” added Hogan.
And while the Jazz Night performers won’t divulge the full scope of the program, they’re hoping to include a handful of surprise elements for the audience to enjoy. “We hope to have a few tricks up our sleeve,” notes Hogan. “Stay tuned!” – Jeff Selesnick
Join us for the Max Roach Centennial Celebration on March 7, 2024 at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage. Tickets on sale through the Capitol Center for the Arts here. Your admission ticket includes a pre-show reception featuring food by local favorites Hermanos and Constantly Pizza.