The Nash to host student musicians this month to engage and inspire new youth talent

(Photo courtesy of ***ask sarah jarvis***)
High school and college jazz bands will get the opportunity to perform at The Nash throughout April in an effort to reach younger audiences. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Mottling of Phx Event Pix)

The Nash will feature performances from high school and college jazz bands throughout the month of April in an effort to engage younger audiences and celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month.

Earlier this year, The Nash held “Hot Dogs and Jazz” events for families and younger kids. Now the jazz club plans to host musicians from local schools like Central High School, Scottsdale Community College and Arizona State University. A full list of this month’s performances can be found here.

“We all perform there, it’s not just a place for a certain type or a certain age of musician to play, so it’s truly multi-generational,” said Mike Kocour, director of Jazz Studies at ASU. “We’re celebrating the work of jazz artists young and old.”

Kocour, a jazz pianist and composer, leads workshops for student musicians over the summer at The Nash and also performs there. He said he believes that the opportunities provided by the performance venue and community space are foundational in growing the art and passing it on. He said working with young musicians and providing a space for them to meet and play with more experienced musicians is mutually beneficial.

“Younger musicians inspire us with their enthusiasm and different perspectives,” he said. “We have new perspectives too, or perspectives that might be new to younger musicians.”

The Nash was founded three years ago and since then has drawn many big names in jazz, nationally and locally. They use educational outreach as a way of reaching all types of jazz musicians throughout the valley. Keith Kelly, the Nash’s Director of Educational Programming, said that the venue has created a sense of belonging for younger musicians who now have a place to share their love for the art. He also said that the experiences these young musicians have playing with renowned artists are incredibly unique and formative.

“Their minds are totally blown,” Kelly said of the students. “It’s like playing basketball with Kobe Bryant. You just have no business being there.”

One of those students who has benefitted from The Nash’s outreach is Vincent Thiefain, a sophomore at ASU and bass player. He called The Nash a “community center for musicians” and said he was both surprised and grateful that something like it existed in Phoenix, opening right when he began his college career studying jazz performance.

“All the faculty that I’ve met at ASU, I got to meet them before I ever came to the school just because of the Nash,” he said. “I got to see some really professional and really extraordinary people play there and I had a chance to meet them and play with them.”

Kocour was one of these musicians and faculty members. He said he remembers how it felt to play with musicians he admired for the first time when he was young and how having a community of musicians to support him as a young pianist made all the difference.

“Being a musician is a unique path and it’s nice to have company,” he said.

The Nash will hold a fundraiser with ASU, Jazz and BBQ, on April 12 for their jazz scholarship program. The event is free at Civic Space Park and will go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring performances from ASU student ensembles as well as Mike Kocour.

Contact the reporter at karen.loschiavo@asu.edu.