Helen White (David Lipnowski)
The Winnipeg International Jazz Festival officially kicks off tonight. For all of you wondering whether you should check it out or not, SCENE says "Yes!". And if you are a 'first-timer', here is your jazz primer, brought to you by Helen White.
Here are Helen's credentials: She studied electro-acoustic music, jazz and sound-technology in Cambridge (UK) and USA before completing her Masters of Music in Performance in Canada. She has performed across three continents in a variety of styles and plays several instruments including cello, most notably locally at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, Music n' Mavens and the Mardi Jazz Series.
In her 'spare' time she is a mother of three crazy and bouncy children under five years old and the wife of a writer and poet! And SCENE has no idea how she made the time to answer our questions...but she did!
If you had to describe jazz in one sentence, what would it be?
The art of creating music spontaneously, within the boundaries of a musical form, to create something unique, fun and interesting.
If someone had not heard jazz before, but was interested in going to a concert, what's the one piece of advice you would give them.
Start with vocalists. I'm not saying that just because I am one but rather because then you have lyrics and text to relate to. Love songs transcend any genre and most people like jazz songs (especially from the 30s, 40s, 50s) without realising they are jazz songs. "Start spreading the news...etc." (maybe add another example)
Name five things people should know when attending a jazz concert?
1. That when the vocalist is singing nonsense syllables he/she is improvising and hasn't forgotten the words!
2. It is customary to applaud the musicians when they finish their solo (improvised section) and it's also nice when people applaud the vocalist too. When someone does a really great solo and takes you places with their musical ideas, be guided by your intuition. If you want to shout 'woot!' - then please do!
3. It's o.k. to move. In fact, please move! Come on Winnipeg, you can do it! We love it when people move (or even dance!!) and clap and hollering is also good. Even when people are really enjoying themselves, it's not always easy to tell from the stage.
4. Most importantly, enjoy the music as it will not be the same next time. The musicians dedicate their lives to learning the infinite amount of ways chords can be interpreted and developed and after that special moment, the music moves on in another direction. This metamorphoses means that every moment is special.
5. The most important one: have a glass of wine, sit back and relax.
What's the best way to approach a jazz festival with so many different concerts and kinds of music?
Support local artists! Jazz Festival is a time where local artists can do something different. We sing 'wallpaper' gigs all year: standards in cafes and the like, and then this is an opportunity to approach new projects and present them as an actual show.
Check out the free concerts at Old Market Square (a good opportunity to hear new originals and have a dance!) and also any masterclasses/workshops that take your fancy.
And have FUN! AND...try something completely different from your usual taste. You don't know if you'll like it until you try it, right?