A day with jazz legend Charles McPherson

Charles McPherson jazz legend on the saxophone (Robert Shoemake)

Shannelle Sanchez

From rehearsals, sound checks, and clinics for the jazz students, McPherson had a busy day cut out for him before taking the stage with Saddleback’s Big Band, Feb. 2, at the McKinney Theater.

Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri, and made the move to Detroit at the age of nine. At age 12, he would sit on his front lawn late into the evening listening to music flowing from a jazz club called the Blue Bird. 

McPherson began performing with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. McPherson has been teaching students all over the world about jazz for the last 20 years. 

“When I was a kid, there would be no such thing as a jazz department, so clinics started happening in the late 60s. Now jazz is almost everywhere. There’s some kind of jazz curriculum at colleges. Nowadays for a jazz musician that’s part of his or her livelihood to play concerts, but also to teach. It’s a great way to make a living,” McPherson said. 

“The band is great. Joey and the teachers have done a good job with this music department,”  stated McPherson before the show.

When the time finally came, the audience filled the theater (many of them high school students, who had attended the music clinics earlier that day). The musicians took their places on stage, and the excitement in the audience grew. Joey Sellers,jazz program director, stood in front of the band ready to conduct. As the music started to flow, the audience began to tap their feet to the opening song “Cherry Juice.” 

According to Stephen Morris, music major, the Saddleback College Big Band was thrilled to spend the day with McPherson. There was a lot to take in for the students. Ian Nakazawa, co-drummer for the Big Band, said that his experience with McPherson was “informative.” 

“McPherson taught me how to approach the drums more musically and how important it is implementing dynamics, not to sound too overbearing,” Nakazawa said.

“Working with McPherson makes me want to be a better musician. He is very down to earth and approachable. The message he wanted us to grasp was that he wants us to connect with humanity, and connect with other people on a different medium,” said Stephen Morris, co-drummer with Ian Nakazawa.

The show came to an end and the audience gave McPherson and the Big Band a standing ovation.

Audience member Katelyn Toombs,16, Irvine High School said, “I really enjoyed the show, it was great to see Mr. McPherson perform on stage.” 

Upcoming jazz and art events available on the Saddleback website: http://www.saddleback.edu/arts/

For more information on Charles McPherson please visit:http://www.charlesmcpherson.com/ There you can learn more about Charles McPherson background, and upcoming events.

Listen to Charles McPherson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKgit-li8Jg

Stephen Morris on drums (Robert Shoemake)

Joey Sellers conducting the Big Band on Feb. 2nd (Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

Charles McPherson (Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

(Robert Shoemake)

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