The Harborfields High School Jazz Band had the unique opportunity to take part in a workshop/rehearsal with famed trombonist-composer Marshall Gilkes on May 10. A three-time Grammy-nominated artist, member of the seven-time Grammy-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra and one of the most in-demand brass players on the planet, Gilkes traveled to Greenlawn to spend several hours working with these students.
Following a performance introduction and some discussion about warmups, practicing and life in music, Gilkes rehearsed the band on material that was tailormade or chosen for his visit. Junior Peter Hoss arranged the trombonist’s “Waiting to Continue” for the ensemble, and to recognize the Thad Jones Centennial and tap into Gilkes’ knowledge and expertise as the lead player in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (the modern-day incarnation of what began as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra), the band prepared Jones’ “Don’t Get Sassy” and “It Only Happens Every Time.”
Offering constructive feedback, Gilkes also joined the ranks and performed with the students, giving them a firsthand, up-close listen to a top-tier professional in action.
“I can’t overemphasize the importance of experiences like this,” HHS Jazz Band Director Dan Bilawsky said. “For students to have the chance to sit in front of a musician of Marshall GIlkes’ caliber, receive advice on music directly connected to his artistic pursuits and play beside him offers educational value beyond measure. It’s something these students will never forget.”