A Side of O.J. (Operation Jazz)

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OJ flier

Thanks to my good friend Beverly, an ASB media tech., she helped me create a flier for my Jazz group, Operation Jazz; and if I may add, she did an amazing  job. The logo design was my own creation which Beverly brought to life with the vibrant colors and word font. We both agreed that it would be a great idea to include either a full group picture of the band or a group of individual pictures of the members at the bottom of the flier. The group is currently in practicing a new song titled Chicago by Buddy Rich. It’s a hard piece, but what’s music without a challenge. After all my old trumpet teacher once told me, “If playing an instrument was easy, everyone would do it”. Plus people don’t enjoy the easy stuff as much as the harder things that others do in life because they aren’t afraid of the challenge or risks they encounter, the only person holding someone back from fulfilling their dream is them self.

Let me go back in time for a minute to tell you the origin of Operation Jazz. “It was a bright cold day in April…”, (quote from 1984) no I’m kidding. The idea of forming a Jazz band occurred to me back in October of 2013 when my English class was assigned an innovation project that would benefit the community. The was no average volunteer, pick up trash, recycle kind of project. This was something else. My teacher, Mr. Theriault, showed us examples of how to be creative with this “Idea Farming” project; that is the name of our class step by step process that we made as we went along with out grand projects. When I began thinking about what I wanted to do, I knew it had to be music based; music is my life. When I first pitched the idea to my classmates about playing music for the public, jazz specifically, they doubted that I could pull it off and find people who would be willing to join in on my project. Hearing their comments made me want to kill the idea altogether, but I knew in my mind that I had to “stick to my guns”.

After a day or two I had time to plan out what I imagined going forward with my idea would be like. I took into account the instrumentalists I would need, spreading the word through social networking, and gigs and practices. The group that would consist of the best musicians I knew from school that would unite to form the exclusive group.


Execute Operation Jazz

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Tomorrow performing for you live in the Fountain Valley High School bowl, from your own neighborhood band room Operation Jazz! They will be performing during lunch, so grab your food and head over to the bowl to hear a little bit of the old and the new of Jazz. These talented musicians are bringing Jazz back to the community simply for the love of the music. As the saying goes, “music continues and never ends”, there’s always a new interpretation of style making it “new”(relating back to these cool videos I saw a while back on how everything is a remix, giving the implication of it being new). In case you don’t know I’m the trumpet player. We will be playing Careless Whisper made famous by Wham!, Moondance made famous by Van Morrison, and In the Mood made famous by Dave Brubeck Quartet. On the “drawing board” we have in process Portuguese Love by Maynard Ferguson, Take Five by Dave Brubeck Quartet, and possibly Night in Tunisia by Duke Ellington. I would also really like to start playing  The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. I also really like this poster, it’s when I first saw it I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to see myself in an actual photo with my band. That’s swag right there people!  Looks like my innovation project to bring Jazz back to the public is Swinging! Haha!

I’ve been thinking, what if we had, on a Friday in the evening after school say 7-8, a Jazz Lounge performance. Not a cheesy cute little show, I’m talking school hosted event in the amphitheater. We could set up all the equipment: stands, amps, drum set, key board, and have a legitimate Jazz night.  We could set a date in the future to promote this gig with fliers around the school, as well I was also wondering if the theater could: Put up a backdrop with a scenery behind us, or just a plain black would do, and maybe sell snacks and drinks to those that show up while they watched our performance. We could play for about an hour free of charge. I just hope that people show up if we do go through with it.

(I’m) Not The Only One

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Hey guys, how was your week? I hope it was better than mine, since mine wasn’t too hot. The big thing that killed me and the rest of my week was when I had Jazz Band practice for my school I went in excited with my mind open and ready to learn; although still a bit nervous. The reason I was nervous is because we have this new song we’re practicing right now called Count Bubbas Revenge by the Big Phat Band. Bottom line, it’s a hard song. Manageable, but still hard. Plus we’re all busy, especially as a senior in high school reaching the last 3 months of school I’m starting to freak out a bit, and I haven’t practiced the piece too much. So what happened was all the students showed up to practice, warmed up for 15 min, then I noticed that Mr. Mathews hadn’t showed up yet–since he’s our leader. Well now that we were already 15 minutes into practice I told myself what the heck, I’m a leader too so I’ll get the practice moving along until he shows up. So I led us through our first piece, my favorite piece we play, called In a Sentimental Mood. I love playing this song because it’s a very intimate smooth Jazz song that just flows with the whole ensemble. Plus I love when the the drummer, Steven (my drummer for Operation Jazz as well), uses fan sticks. If you have never heard or seen fan sticks used before by a drummer,  you should look into it, the idea of using them is to soften the volume by “scratching” the snare head with the fan sticks creating the continuation of “white noise”.  The other day when I found this video by the HIT RECORD production Co. it motivated me to cheer up and keep moving forward, because I’m not the only one who has off days. The main point of my bad day was I got yelled at a few times for rushing and playing wrong partials in the music which don’t sound well. After being yelled at many times I was now afraid to play, fearing that no matter what I played it would always be wrong. The only thing I can do is try to practice during the week in my very packed schedule. I’m starting to see an unfortunate cycle. I will strive to change it to better my school habits. Remember you’re not the only one.

Do it With Style

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I just wanted to share this video of a Jazz trumpet player jamming because it is a big passion and influence in my life that I wanted to share. Once someone asked me  if I had a motto, what would it be. I never really thought about having a motto before in my life, but after really thinking about it, I came up with “do it with style”. This amazing trumpet player is Josh Shpek, he won the award for best jazz solo performer in 2012. He and I both share a common desire to play in a jazz ensemble that just rocks the house, which brings me to my innovation project;  Operation Jazz.  To be honest, right now my jazz group is becoming so bland. I need to get these guys into the excitement and mentality of why we made this group in the first place. Truth be told, they forget that we meet every Monday after school 3-4:30. I’m flexible when they need to skip a day due to appointments, a family plan, or because of another activity. Not just because they forgot. I remember when I saw the movie The Mambo Kings I remember the two brothers making it to the top of the Mambo world through thick and thin, but always together. What they had was style, whatever they played, and were dressed in, it all had a style.

“Let me show you what I can do”

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This last week of mid January I found out about this trumpeter named Christian Scott who won the 2013 Jazz Award in New Orleans. So immediately I went to YouTube to hear how great this guy plays; knowing me right? It turns out that he is, as I assumed, a great player and he even has his own line of new trumpets going! Dang! He has this one called a Siren trumpet, after that he has the Sirenette trumpet, then he even created a reverse flugelhorn of his own! This guy has it all! He’s an awesome player in a jazz band who has his own company of trumpets and he won a big jazz award. I applaud this man.  I too hope that someday I can be a lead trumpet player for a popular jazz band, get gigs at clubs, dives, and cafes. After the show go out with some friends all dressed up in my suit and tie to have a night on the town. That’s my idea of living the dream. But, just like Christian I need to practice a lot, a lot, if I want my name to be recognized in the jazz and trumpet world. Like my dad says, “Right now Emmanuel, since you’re young, and just beginning your life in the real world, you have all the doors open. It’s up to you to apply yourself to school and music to walk up to those doors saying, ‘let me show you what I can do'”.

How Deep is the Ocean

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I love the way Marvin Stamm plays his solos in Jazz. If you guys notice in this video he spends most of the time playing trumpet with his eyes closed even though he has a music stand right in front of him. Yesterday I had a great rehearsal with my Jazz group Operation Jazz. So far we have two songs solid Moondance by Van Morrison and Careless Whisper by Wham! After those two I have been looking around for other songs that we could play that sound great. In the “ideas pot” I have In the Mood, Portuguese Love, Begin to Beguine, and others. I hope that in the future I could play trumpet in a Jazz band that gets hired to a lot of gigs at clubs and hotels. So if anyone needs a Jazz band to play anywhere let me know. We have already played a short demonstration for the public songs from our set list before. One day when I was looking around YouTube for trumpet improvisation solos I found this video of Marvin Stamm with his Jazz group.  Speaking of “picking up the pieces”, you see what I did there, since in my English class I am reading Frankenstein who is made of human organs and body parts; “pieces”. Anyway in a Jazz group, we could think of it like this, each instrument is a body part that when put together bring life to black notes on a sheet music. I will post Operation Jazz’s recordings on here later so you guys could hear how we sound. In a month or two we will perform at the main bowl plaza of my school to present to the students and teachers what have been working on.

Jazz, It is what it is

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Hey guys it’s Monday, you know what that means? Jazz practice! I always love going to jazz practice, especially when it’s for our innovation project. It’s a time and place where I can really let out my emotions through my trumpets’ bell. If I’m feeling excited and energetic that’s what it’ll sound like when I play: fast, all over the place, and of course high. If I’m feeling chill I will play something smooth and groovy. Since my brother and I watch Key and Peele on Comedy Central this episode was on their show one day and it involved jazz. The whole time I was glued to the TV to see what style of jazz they would play, and it turned out great! I just had to show you guys. Something my private teacher once told me was,”Remember, we play from the player through the horn, not the other way around”. To me, statistically and spiritually, it means that you the player must always think about what you are trying to create, not the trumpet “slotting” notes for you just because you blow air. Don’t let the instrument hold you back from reaching what you want to play. The instrument is the amplifier from your heart to those around you.