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Jazz students ‘go with the flow’ to continue their music festival tradition

"We can still connect, and we can still be together even in these harsh conditions, even in these harsh times"

COLORADO, USA — We have all been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many people, it’s forced a change in plans – whether they’ve been canceled, postponed or moved online. There is one group of in Colorado, however, that’s specific craft prepared them a for a situation just like this.

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Colorado Conservatory for Jazz Arts recently had to host its 17th Annual Jazz O Rama virtually. The all-day festival is the “one event that we have all of our bands play in the same venue,” according to artistic director Paul Romaine.

But figuring out how to pull off such a big event featuring 16 different ensembles is no easy feat. So, much like the jazz rhythms themselves, Romaine and his team at CCJA had to improvise. 

The faculty is made up of renowned local professional musicians. In order to teach so many students their different parts, instructors recorded themselves playing each of the instruments with their respective parts, stitched them together into a full performance and then sent the videos to students. The students then filmed themselves playing along with the tracks and CCJA then swapped in the students for the pros to make a complete band and song.

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“I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but then we started recording and I started getting to hear other people playing and recording with that,” said student saxophonist Alex Loran.

“It’s a bit like improvisation,” said sophomore upright bass player Liam Gallagher. “Just making stuff up on the fly and being creative about it.”

For a look at three of the 16 pieces performed during this year’s Jazz O Rama and how CCJA’s faculty and students pulled it off, click the links below.

“Song for My Father”

“Sandcrab”

“Humpty Dumpty”

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