Ocean Academy Sings the Blues
By: Charla Cole, Instructional Paraprofessional/Substitute Teacher
The students of Ocean Academy once again had the great pleasure of going on a field trip, this time to the Count Basie Theater. The venue featured the spectacular Metta Quintet, a five piece jazz and blues band sponsored by Jazz Reach, which is a part of the Yes Indeed! program. Yes Indeed! is an engaging, interactive music program designed for children of all ages to instill a greater appreciation, awareness, and understanding of the great American Blues tradition. While listening to the soft, mellow, and sometimes edgy sounds of the band cover songs by famous jazz and blues artists such as the great Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Son House, the students were taken on a historic journey. In a soulful narrative, the presenter educated the theater audience on the unique heritage of blues, the standard 12 bar blues form, and how traditional blues music was a way of coping, overcoming, persisting, and prevailing for African American slaves during their Northern migration. We also learned about Red Bank’s’ very own blues legend Count Basie, who influenced regional blues styles from Memphis, Detroit, Kansas, and New York. It was an hour long, high energy performance filled with rich history, and it allowed the students to view the genre of jazz and blues as a platform for artistic expression, creativeness, and improvisation. These are the skills they are learning in our Arts Infusion Program as well, such as Slam Poetry and it was a great way to integrate the two concepts together.
The students and staff members of OA enjoyed the music and could be seen actively participating, especially during the “listen and repeat” performance. At the conclusion of the concert, the band shared a little song that reflected their personal feelings when they sing the blues. “The blues are in all of us, so have no fear, just play some blues and those gray skies will clear! Yes Indeed!”
Did You Know: The Count Basie Theater originally opened as the Carlton Theater in 1926. It was later renamed in 1984 to honor jazz great and Red Bank native William “Count” Basie, who had died earlier that year.