Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Listen to the music, then hear the show

This Sunday SFJAZZ Collective will perform at UAB’s Alys Stephens Center, as part of its “Stevie Wonder Weekend.” The Collective will perform the music of Wonder and, in addition to their 3 p.m. show, the day will feature a jazz brunch with music from local group Neo Jazz Collective and a free 2 p.m. pre-show listening party.

Hmm—what is a listening party? You may have heard the term lately, because listening parties are all the rage among music lovers. A party usually features people and music, so what’s different about a listening party? It’s when people get together, listen to music, then talk about it. It can be music each person brings to share with the group or music made by an artist that attracts ardent fans together to enjoy.

The ASC listening party will be led by the Alys Stephens Center’s own Eric Essix, a guitarist and masterful musician in his own right, along with Collective member Robin Eubanks, a world class trombonist and the only group member who has played with Wonder. It will be a chance to delve deep into Wonder’s music with an artist who has played with him, alongside like-minded fans.

“Robin will have some recorded examples to play and we will discuss the music of Stevie,” Essix explains. “We’ll take questions from audience members. Being able to interact with the performing artist gives the listener a better understanding of the music and I believe makes them feel like they are a part of the concert experience. They have an opportunity to ask questions and hear first hand from the artist what inspired the creation of the music, therefore gaining a better understanding of the artistic process. I think this type of interaction, especially in the case of young people, encourages greater appreciation and further exploration of jazz music and the arts in general,” Essix said. Read a Q&A with the band here.

(A bit of trivia: Robin Eubanks’ brother is guitarist Kevin Eubanks, who was the leader of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” band for many years before leaving the show last season.)

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