Top level performers set for Jazz in the Heights

Jim Kalson (bass player)

The Magnet Tribune:

Jim Kalson (bass player)

Sabrina Sanchez, Staff Writer

 The jazz music genre is a progressive, intricate, and textured form of music. It carries a lively beat, and the genre has produced some of the greatest music.

Jazz music is deeply rooted in the American Culture and especially the African American culture. Because of jazz music’s deep ties to African American culture, VMT has decided to celebrate Black History Month with Jazz in the Heights.

Music instructor Ric Cortez is in charge of this event, scheduled for Friday, March 10, at the school’s south parking lot.

To bring that level of artistry and musicianship to Laredo and to the VMT school, I think is a beautiful thing.”

— Ric Cortez

There will be one lecture performance in the morning and one in the afternoon. Afterwards, there will be an evening performance from 6 to 9 p.m.

VMT students and the community are invited to attend.

The daytime events will be entertaining, and it will also be informative.

“We’re going to present a lecture concert where we’ll have invited guest that will come and talk about black history, jazz history, their personal experiences being black, and being black musicians,” Cortez said.

There will be several special guests performing in the evening. Dr. Maurice Portis, a vocalist, instrumentalist, and educator, will be coming down from Corpus Christi. A whole group of musicians will be coming down from San Antonio. Cecil Carter, a well-known trumpet player, will be performing. So will drummer Jonathan Alexander, pianist Chris Villanueva, vocalist Jacqueline Sotelo, saxophone player Russell Haight, and bass player Jim Kalson.

According to Cortez, people going to this jazz festival can expect “a lot of great music,” and the students attending will be getting “some history on the music and how it’s tied in with African American culture.”

When asked if the jazz festival will become a yearly event Cortez stated, “If the funding is there, I would love to do it every year.”

For future jazz festivals Cortez would want to, “make it bigger, more groups, more invited musicians, or maybe make it over two days. There’s a lot of room for expansion.”

“The main goal is a greater appreciation of this music we call jazz, which is also considered to be America’s classical music. It’s a uniquely American art form that I believe should be promoted more in public schools,” he said.

He said people should look forward to high level performances.

“I’m looking forward to this event because there is going to be a lot of great music being played. All of the musicians that are coming are at the top of their field. To bring that level of artistry and musicianship to Laredo and to the VMT school, I think is a beautiful thing. It’s fantastic,” Cortez said.