UPPER DUBLIN >> The seventh-graders were clapping in their seats to the music of jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader Miles Davis Feb. 10 as part of the celebration of Black History Month at Sandy Run Middle School.
Professional jazz vibraphonist George Weldon, a 1985 alumnus of Wissahickon High School, presented three concerts, one for each grade, at the middle school, featuring the music of Miles Davis..
“Miles Davis changed music over four decades,” Weldon said, prior to the assembly. “He was probably one, if not the only, acclaimed jazz trumpet player.”
“I learned from solos [Davis] played on his album ‘Kind of Blue,’ watching his videos, so I could find my own voice … how to improvise, even how I stand,” said Alex Parchment, a trumpet player from Washington, D.C., one of the featured jazz musicians playing with Weldon at the middle school.
A musical education student at Howard University, Parchment said, “I’m happy to be here.”
At an earlier concert that day, “kids asked some good questions, they were inspired to pay attention,” he said. “You might find some future jazz musicians in the building.”
Sandy Run music teacher Sean Kennedy, who arranged for the concerts, told the students “Miles Davis influenced everything — classic, rock and jazz — and fit in perfectly with Black History Month.”
Kennedy explained to the students how jazz musicians play the melody and then improvise.
He “crossed boundaries and had tons of hit records,” said Kennedy, a professional drummer who played a selection of Davis’ music on stage with Weldon, Parchment, pianist Jared Alston and bassist Dylan Taylor.
Davis was “probably one of the most influential jazz trumpet players,” Weldon said. “’Kind of Blue’ was the No. 1 jazz album ever recorded by Miles Davis,” he said.
“As the music scene changed, he changed with it,” he said, noting Davis, who recorded albums with American jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane also collaborated with Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper.