A jazz clinic was held in Niemeyers’ Leroy Anderson Room by Ken Peplowski on November 18; the clinic was free for all and featured several performances as well as a Q&A session afterwards.
Peplowski is a renowned clarinet and saxophone player with decades of experience in the world of music; headlining at famous venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the Birdland Jazz Club, Peplowski has also worked with several movie and music stars such as Woody Allen, Madonna and Hank Jones. Peplowski was accompanied by former CCC instructor Tom Wakeling on the upright bass, Randy Porter on the piano and Charlie Dogget on drums. They all shared their experiences and tips for improving the life of a musician.
As the remainder of the audience filed in Peplowski introduced himself and the band, attached a reed to his clarinet and promptly counted off into song. The sound was fast-paced swing and it was seamless. All the band’s players looked cool, calm and collected as they laid down technical perfection; members of the audience could be seen lightly tapping and shifting to the beat, and it was clear the band held their attention.
Peplowski spoke to primarily jazz students, many of them in high school. He emphasized confidence in one’s voice rather than their instrument when it comes to beautiful sound. “You have to think of the instrument as just the amplifier,” Peplowski said. “The sound comes from you. It’s very important to practice as much as you can away from your instrument as with it.”
Porter said to practice of the fundamentals — as a piano player the fundamentals equate to the perfection of scales. “I’ve been lucky enough to watch people play like Tommy Flanagan or Hank Jones and see the physicality,” Porter said. “Anybody that you like, see if you can copy the physicality of some of the phrases that you like because we get all the notes and it doesn’t sound right.”
Wakeling, who plays upright bass, reminded players to maintain a calm mindset while performing. “The issue for me has always been fighting the instrument and the perceived difficulty of playing something this big,” Wakeling said. “I’ve learned that I have to remind myself to relax. Keep it light and still have the rhythmic forward motion, but not with any extra energy.”
Promoting chemistry with fellow musicians, Peplowski said, “Music is no different than any other aspect of your life. You’re going to meet people that you hook up with sympathetically and other people you just don’t like, and they don’t like you. So just be yourself and be the best you can be.”
For those that missed the clinic and are looking for quality jazz, an instrumental jazz concert will be held on December 3 by the music department and will be performed by The Clackamas Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo. This one-night performance has an admission of $5.