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UCD School of Music Hosts Jazz Workshop

UCD School of Music Hosts Jazz Workshop

2 November 2023

On 24th October the UCD School of Music hosted a jazz workshop with UK jazz legend (opens in a new window)Denys Baptiste (saxophone), and rising international star (opens in a new window)Sultan Stevenson (piano). The two took a few hours out of their nationwide tour promoting Stevenson's debut album to stop by UCD's Astra Hall.

The two artists engaged the students in a lively Q&A session discussing topics ranging from smartphone jazz apps to the artists' own background and musical experience. 

Stevenson shared his insights on improvisation skills, explaining that “good solos are like good conversations - there are facts, and there are opinions” and, he went on, both are needed to make a conversation interesting. And so it is when creating a jazz solo - there are scales and music theory, and then there is the element of unpredictability. Too much of one without the other makes for a poor solo!

Baptiste emphasised the importance for any aspiring jazz musician to develop their ear. This concept was beautifully illustrated with a live demonstration in which Baptiste challenged himself to stand with his back to the piano, and to spontaneously create a melodic line over a completely improvised chord sequence from Stevenson on the piano. 

To bring home the importance of this skill, the artists then challenged the students to take turns on their own instruments to play back a selection of pitches, intervals, and melodic fragments delivered by the performers. 

This very special once-off event was supported by Music Network, the Creative Futures Academy, and the UCD School of Music. 

The event was coordinated by our Assistant Professor of Composition and Performance, Dr Peter Moran.

UCD School of Music

Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8178 | E: music@ucd.ie