CCA Previews ’18: Raffles Jazz

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“When you’re creating your own shit, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
– Miles Davis

By Jeremy Xiao (18A01B), Chairperson
(Cover Photograph: Jazz members, past and present, at Summer of Love Concert 2017)

What is music to you?

In many genres, performing music becomes execution and reproduction, presenting a defined routine to please an audience. In jazz, however, music is conversation. You converse with the audience as a performer through notes which carry emotion and skill. You converse with your fellow band members, listening and complementing each other to create a united whole. And finally, you converse with yourself, finding a way to express your emotions freely through your music. Ultimately, jazz is about communication, not being restricted by musical or social norms, and instead being free to express yourself and enjoy those moments on stage or off stage with your band members.

In Raffles Jazz, we seek to develop that communication and conversation through becoming better individual musicians, as well as growing together as a bonded community of jazzers. We play a variety of music under the umbrella term “Jazz”: from bebop to Latin, from swing and big-band to jazz fusion, from blues to funk. Ultimately, our music always stays unique and improvisational, filled with creativity and fun for both the performer and the listener.

To that end, we practice as a band every Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:30pm, and every Friday from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Practices may also increase in frequency approaching our performances or “gigs”.

Apart from our annual concert in May, which is the highlight of the year, we have many other performances within and outside school to look forward to and prepare for. In this year alone, we have busked along school walkways, played for school events such as National Day and Batch Party, as well as for a music festival organised by Bishan CC, and the We Love Jazz festival which featured many professional local and overseas jazz musicians. Evidently, opportunities to perform are aplenty, and there is always something to look forward to every practice.

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We Love Jazz Festival 2017.

During practices, when we are not practising songs together as a band or jamming to our favourite grooves, we also have our extremely experienced instructors who come down to provide us with valuable guidance and teaching. Most of them are professional jazz music teachers or musicians who not only help us develop our individual technique, but also give us guidance on our repertoire and on working together as a band. Our alumni are also an incredibly close-knit community who are all extremely passionate about jazz. These talented and fun seniors often come down to guide us and support us through our jazz journey. Jazz has thus become more than a CCA for many of us – it is a family of passionate fellow musicians who we can have fun with and rely on.

Now, what if you have never heard jazz or heard of jazz before? Don’t fret, many of us were equally inexperienced when we first joined the CCA. Our only advice: Listen! Explore all kinds of jazz; from classics from the 1930s and 40s, to new and exciting modern pieces. Keep an open mind, and you can be certain that jazz will never become boring and will never fail to surprise and inspire you. All you have to do is be willing to dive right in, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of jazz.

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Bishan CC Gig

If you’re still uncertain about jazz, or would like to learn more about the CCA or jazz as a genre, come to our pre-audition workshop which will be held in early 2018, where we will be performing a short showcase of standard jazz pieces, as well as giving you a glimpse of what jazz is like. And if you do decide to join Raffles Jazz, we can assure you that it will be an extremely fruitful, enriching, and exciting journey ahead, as long as you never stop loving music, and always stay open to new ideas.

So, what is music to you? If music is creative and fluid expression, impulsive and exciting improvisation, open and collaborative teamwork, and constantly creating and being inspired by new ideas, Raffles Jazz is definitely the place for you.

“Jazz is freedom. You think about that.”
– Thelonious Monk


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