Dallas Academy Welcomes Jazz Quartet to Campus

Dallas Academy’s Department of Music and Performing Arts welcomed a jazz quartet to campus on Thursday as a part of the department’s Guest Concert Series for Cultural Enrichment. This performance marked the eighth in the concert series which aims to provide students enriching cultural experiences as well as to enjoy music in a live setting. The goal of the concert series is to increase students’ awareness about the diversity of artistic talent within our community. Each concert also includes an educational component where the artist shares information about their craft. 

Thursday’s performance provided a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about jazz music, including its origins and how it is composed. The jazz quartet included local musicians Roland Elbert on piano, Chris McGuire on saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet, Carl Hillman on the upright bass, and Dennis Durick on drums. These musicians are very active on the busy Dallas music scene and perform together often. They have busy careers performing studio work for radio jingles, playing in jazz concerts, and performing with the Dallas Summer Musicals and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Dallas Academy’s own Music Therapist, Molly Phillips Grogan, has worked with these artists for years in numerous performance settings with her variety band, Dallas Unlimited.

The quartet began the program by sharing information about jazz. Jazz is an art form that is unique to all other forms of music. Unlike classical music, jazz is created spontaneously through improvisation and musicians use non-verbal cues to create the framework of a chord progression.  The other unique quality about jazz music is the use of altered chords. These occur when musicians take a basic chord and add alternate notes to make it more complex. Practically any tune can be played as jazz by using improvisation and altered chord techniques. After the brief lesson, the quartet performed a variety of jazz genres such as Swing, Latin, Be-Bop, Blues, and New Orleans-style jazz. Students were thrilled when their own music teacher Molly Grogan joined the quartet on stage to sing “What a Wonderful World.” The performance concluded with a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Dallas Academy students were impressed by the talent of the performers and were excited to sing along with numerous familiar tunes. The audience increased their knowledge about this complex art form and Dallas Academy’s Department of Music and Performing Arts was excited to share an opportunity with their students to enjoy cultural enrichment.