All-Star High School group performance at North Coast Brewing Co.’s Sequoia Room

By Mary Rose Kaczorowski

Internationally-acclaimed jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson was on stage last week in Fort Bragg. Watson, along with five of the country’s most gifted high school music students from the Thelonious Monk Institute Performing Arts High School Jazz All-Stars performed last weekend at the North Coast Brewery’s “Jazz at the Sequoia Room.”

“When I was growing up there were job opportunities for live musicians in recording studios, with major acts, from Glenn Campbell to Dolly Parton, the Supremes, the Four Tops and etc., and there was always a need for people to play an instrument,” Watson said Friday in a pre-performance interview with the next generation of jazz musicians. “Even though that is not as big right now, everything goes in cycles. It will come back, just wait. At the Monk Institute, they learn the science of jazz and improve and also the spirit and language of playing. Then you know how to play anything.”

Asked what music means to him, drummer Christan Burgs, 18, from Houston, said, “What is going on in our country is dividing us. Music is medicine. Music supersedes any barrier.”

The Monk Institute brings respected jazz musicians and educators into 12 public performing arts high schools in 10 cities across the country to provide intensive jazz training for exceptionally gifted and motivated student musicians. Dr. JB Dyas currently oversees the Institute’s education and outreach programs.