The new One Education jazz group known as Integrate may only be one year old, but they have already developed an impressive musical CV. The students range from age 15 – 18 and between them have accomplished various music qualifications, musical grades and three have been accepted to prestigious music colleges, including the Royal Northern College of Music, Royal Academy London and Leeds College of Music. They have also performed at prestigious venues such as The Southbank Centre in London.
Improvisation can be an intimidating thing to try out with no experience. Musical Director, Steve Hawkins, admits that most students that have attended the group have always taken some gentle persuasion, but after some workshops that focus on basic rhythmic and harmonic devices, the students have felt a lot more at home in the world of jazz. The ethos approach that Integrate uses is that students need to be shown how to discover jazz for themselves rather than being shown prescriptive methods and approaches that may seem very abstract.
Starting out by learning some more traditional charts that ranged from Ellington through to Coltrane repertoire, Integrate have more recently been focused on the sound of the South London Jazz Scene and have been inspired in terms of how these young ferocious Jazz musicians are able to blend jazz, world music, urban music and various music technologies yet still manage to sound like jazz musicans with feet simultaneously placed firmly in the past, present and future.
Taking encouragement from their early experiences and achievements such as working with Tomorrows Warriors in the Jazz Ticket Project and at Southbank Centre several members of Integrate are keen to take their jazz playing and subsequent music careers to the next level.
Integrate ensemble has been running for just over a year and it is clear to see that this is a jazz group with a difference. Focusing on collective improvisation and pushing the envelope of jazz and what it represents is what has inspired these young musicians to persevere and develop their skills – attending week in week out. With new musicians gradually taking notice of what the group is doing the future looks very promising for Manchester’s contemporary jazz scene.
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