The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performed with Chick Corea at BYU
Students volunteered to play in a small jazz ensemble for Crenshaw and Printup before receiving feedback. The two professionals not only demonstrated musical skills on the trumpet and trombone, but also gave the students advice intermittently throughout the workshop.
“Jazz is a lot of improvisation,” Printup said. “It is a conversation. That’s why you learn how to speak in phrases. When you learn the vocabulary — all the solos, theory and chords — then you can learn how to use that in the context of playing a solo in jazz. It’s a language.”
Crenshaw continued off of Printup in talking about jazz improvisation and shared a time in a performance where he made musical sounds similar to the inflection of the phrase “I don’t know.” He used the example to demonstrate improvisation as a conversation. He also demonstrated this by striking up an on-the-spot conversation with a student.
“See what I did there?” Crenshaw asked. “That was improvisation. She had no clue what I was going to say or what I was going to do, but we ended up having a conversation anyway. You do it all the time, just putting in musical terms, it’s the same situation.”
Students Kelly Oja and Steven Hardy volunteered to play for Crenshaw and Printup. The experience provided an intimate opportunity to get personal feedback.
“It was amazing,” Hardy said. “What an opportunity to be here at BYU and have these amazing guest artists come and give you feedback. You can feel the music inside of them. And it’s great to be a part of that and communicate with them and play with them.”
Oja wasn’t planning on attending the workshop but she received a text as the workshop started saying they needed a bass player for the rhythm section. “This is one of my favorite experiences at BYU,” Oja said. “I expected it to be cool. But they were super cool and very humble.
“I want to make a career out of jazz music. This workshop helped me meet other people that made this their career. It also helped me see what I can become and what it takes to get there. But there are also technical aspects I take away from things like this, especially this workshop, because it was about jazz.”
Toward the end of the workshop, Crenshaw and Printup shared why they love performing and what it’s like being part of a touring jazz orchestra.
“There’s a lot to see in this world,” Printup said. “We’re very blessed to have this job. The moment we get on the stage and play, all the fatigue we have from not sleeping or traveling all night long goes away. It goes away because we’re playing for you and we’re playing for whoever needs it the most.”
“I feel like every time we step onto the stage,” Crenshaw said, “we always have an opportunity to make someone smile or make someone’s life a little better than what it was before they came in.”