Young Artists Residency in Cleveland

Dominick Farinacci

About 15 years ago my old friend, pianist-educator Eric Gould invited me to speak to his students at a Saturday morning music education program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). When I arrived the students were running down a chart, then they took a break before my talk. As they broke the kids were bouncing off the walls like normal 13 year olds… all except for one young guy.

From hearing the kids earlier, this particular serious looking, dark-haired trumpet aspirant was clearly less experienced. But while the other kids were enjoying a raucous break, this kid was off by himself practicing. A few months later Eric invited me back for part 2 of my talk. Same thing… same kid off in a corner rigorously practicing by himself. I took note – maybe this is one to watch. Now, fifteen years later, having been taken under Wynton Marsalis‘ prodigious wing at 16, matriculated as part of Juilliard’s first jazz class, and become a big fave in Japan, now 28 Dominick Farinacci is one of the brightest young trumpeters of his generation.

As one of an impressive crew of trumpeters who’ve come through the Tri-C JazzFest education program – including Sean Jones, Curtis Taylor, and Donald Malloy – Dom is all about giving back. Along with his peer bandmates pianist Dan Kaufman (who reminded me that he’d been one of the kids featured on my old JazzEd BET show), drummer Lawrence Leathers, percussionist Keita Ogawa, bassist Paul Sikivie, vibist Christian Tamburr, and the vivacious old soul/young spirit vocalist and pride of Brooklyn, Charenee Wade, Farinacci has launched a Young Artist Residency program.

Their first Tri-C residency was this week. They did band clinics for Tri-C Jazz Studies students (under Steve Enos’ able direction) all day Monday. The day was capped by a music biz panel discussion for Tri-C’s Recording Arts Technology (RAT) students (name another community college with a state-of-the-art recording studio program) and jazz students. Featured speakers were moderator Tommy Wiggins from RAT, artist manager Brian McKenna, Grammy-winning recording engineer Todd Whitelock and Tri-C JazzFest managing director Terri Pontremoli.

Tuesday they spent the day at Cleveland Heights High School. What struck me about their activities at the high school was the fact that their classroom work wasn’t exclusive to music students. They did clinics for English and Geometry classes. Whitelock told me later that he was impressed by the excitement and maturity of the high school students’ questions.

Young Artists Residency at Cleveland Hts. HS

As Steve Enos aptly observed, one of the keys to these young artists’ effectiveness with both high school and college students was their relative youth. By and large it was clear the students did not view them as older authority figures, which seemed to heighten and broadened the ultimate reach of their message. Clearly this is a jazz ed program with legs!

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