The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra came from New York to impart their decades of music experience to young students in Calgary.

It all started with a concert by the orchestra for 1200 students at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Wednesday, followed by a full day of learning.

“Five high schools have their jazz ensembles here and they are going to workshop for an hour and a half with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra,” said Kevin Willms, Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education. “They have all been given a piece of music that is very famous from the history of the band, it’s from 1967 by Thad Jones, it’s called Quietude, and the band is going to demo the piece for the kids, an then each of the five bands is going to have the chance to sit right in the Vanguard Orchestra and rehearse it with them.”

It’s a big deal for the young musicians, as the orchestra is one of the most influential big bands in contemporary jazz.

“The Vanguard Orchestra is celebrating its 50th year,” said Willms. “In February of 1966 the band formed as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, it’s an iconic ensemble in the history of the genre, eventually changed the name to the Mel Lewis Orchestra when Thad left, and when Mel passed on, they named the band after the venue where they have been performing every Monday night since 1966, the Village Vanguard in New York City.”

The Calgary Association for the Development of Music Education, or CADME, was founded in 2003 with the mandate of enhancing music education programs in schools. You can learn more about them here.