Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How I Spent my Summer Vacation - A Masterclass with Herbie Hancock and Gucci

Okay, point of full disclosure - I have a soft spot for Gucci watches.  This goes back to their founding with the audacity of Severin Wunderman convincing Mr. Gucci to not only give him the rights to the watch, but to pay for the manufacturing!
Courtesy of Gucci
Having been to a Gucci music event, what really impressed me was the actual lengths that they went to in order to involve their audience, in that particular instance high school kids from the Los Angeles area who got a once in a lifetime chance to have front row seats in a small, intimate theatre to see one of their favorite music stars.

So because I think they're so swell, here's the scoop straight from the source -

Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry’s Japan Music Fund seeks to nurture young musicians, providing scholarships and opportunities for musical development within the framework of an international music exchange program. The Music Fund complements an ongoing partnership with The Recording Academy® (organizers of the GRAMMY® Awards), and allows selected scholarship students to attend the GRAMMY Camps in the U.S. On Sunday August 31st, upon the occasion of Japan’s Sapporo City Jazz festival, two students returning from the 2014 GRAMMY Camp® performed on home ground. The young musicians, together with three peers from the Kunitachi College of Music – partner of the Japan Music Fund – took to the North Jam stage and performed in front of large crowds as an opening act at the Festival.

Courtesy of Gucci
The North Jam stage is one of several key venues during Sapporo City Jazz: a lively, two-month long celebration of all jazz genres, and which draws local and international performers. Notably this year, American jazz legend – and 14-time GRAMMY winner – Herbie Hancock is a headline attraction, and the five lucky students enjoyed a privileged master class with this world-class jazz pianist and composer. The intense session comprised a hands-on music lesson, which the students then integrated into their act.

Courtesy of Gucci

 Mr. Hancock, commenting on his involvement, said; “I am pleased to support this initiative, endorsed by The Recording Academy, and to connect with such an enthusiastic young group. Jazz is all about collaboration, and this master-class offers a chance to share my experiences and then together see what great music we can make.”

Courtesy of Gucci
Students Kunito Kitai a drummer, and Yoko Suzuki, a pianist, are both gifted jazz musicians and currently sponsored by the Japan Music Fund. They attended the Festival fresh from the summer GRAMMY Camp in Los Angeles, where they were able to meet with industry professionals, attend master classes, compose new music, visit recording studios, participate in workshops and perform with other young musicians from all over the world.

Courtesy of Gucci
At Sapporo City Jazz, Kunito and Yoko could once again refine their performance skills whilst learning from a special experience with a jazz great. As they played in the verdant setting of the Sapporo Art Park, a prime location with an audience capacity of 4,000 people, Kunito and Yoko were joined by former Japan Music Fund scholarship student and alto saxophonist Takumi Nakayama, double bassist Kurena Ishikawa, and Jun Umegaki on tenor saxophone. The talented quintet opened the afternoon’s jazz program and set the scene for a vibrant schedule of concerts and free-style sessions.

The Japan Music Fund was established in 2013 and is part of a suite of initiatives that includes Music Funds in China and the UK. Gucci Timepieces & Jewelry is delighted to continue providing its Japan Music Fund students with platforms for musical development and plentiful occasions for the musicians to express their passion and talent.

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