Jazz Jam unites diverse musicians

Apr 25, 2019

From church to family, all of the musicians in ArtWeek’s jazz jam got into music and into jazz in different ways.  All of them appreciate jazz jams — free flowing sessions that bring musicians who don’t normally play together into contact to play well-known standards

This year’s ArtWeek Jazz Jam, under the director of Tabor Academy Director of Instrumental Music Phil Sanborn, will be held May 4 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Marion Art Center. Here’s a look at some of the musicians who will participate.

Bill Kiesewetter

The Marion resident took piano lessons in high school, but then fell out of touch with the instrument until he retired.

In the early 2000s, Kiesewetter went back to jazz camp camp to hone his musical skills.

In 2006 he joined the Dixie Diehard group, based in Foxborough. His love of the more “traditional” form of jazz goes back to his high school days. “Once you take a liking for a certain type of music, that’s what you learn to play,” Kiesewetter said.

He noteds that players may focus in on a certain type of jazz, but the key to a jazz jam is making sure that those conflicting styles don’t clash.

“Phil gets everyone on the same page,” he said.

Bob Sanderson

Sanderson first studied music as a member of the Saint Gabriel’s Church junior choir.

He also took clarinet at school, but gave up music in high school because, as he humorously notes, “they put these tiny marching band scores with zillions of notes needing to be played very fast in front of me.”

It was in college that he got into improvisation on the bass clarinet. He has since tried flute before returning to clarinet.

“I had the thought that people could get together and make music with no pre-arranged structure, and it could be fun to play and maybe interesting to listen to,” Sanderson said.

Compared to this unstructured ideal, a jazz jam sometimes feels “too structured by far” for Sanderson. Still, that doesn’t keep Sanderson, who also plays in the Tri-County Symphonic Band, from playing in jams. 

Christina Frangos

Frangos studied classical violin at the New England Conservatory and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Frangos has done informal sessions in other musical genres over the years, and got into jazz in only the last year.

She is drawn to the way musicians interact with one another in a jam.

“Musicians feed off the energy and musical ideas of each other in a jazz set,” Frangos said. “Anything can happen in a jazz jam. It’s fun to throw the melody and the solos and circle around the circle to each musician. Jazz is the ultimate ode to human creativity!”

Kim Mitchell

Westport-based high school counselor and semi-professional musician Kim Mitchell studied jazz vocal performance in college.

Before that, coming from a family immersed in classical music with a mother who taught piano, she got into music in high school and did musical theater before moving into jazz. 

Mitchell enjoys the chance to play in an ensemble, the creativity of the genre and the way musicians interact in a jazz jam.

Mitchell says “listening well together” is the key to a good jam session. “I love the blend of people that come together from all walks of life. It gives everyone a chance to shine.”