Rachel happens to be our one and only summer jazz camp student this year and, accompanied by her mother, she came to the Jazz Club to sit in on piano during the jamming set just before the guest band took over. Rachel is a 15 year old in the 9th grade at Hueneme High School. When she was seated at the piano I asked her what she would like to play and, after what seemed to be a bit of indecision, she decided on "Green Dolphin Street". What a great choice! It set the tone for the kind of
jazz music Rachel was about to "lay" on us! She followed that with Miles Davis' "Freddy Freeloader" and then the timeless standard, "Tangerine". She grabbed the attention of our Jazz Club crowd with her first offering and held them "raptly" throughout the balance of her sophisticated performance.
I think that everyone in attendance was amazed and thrilled with the sophistication and the emotional maturity and impact of Rachel's playing, the likes of which is very rarely heard at our Jazz Club meetings or anywhere else. But as remarkable as Rachel's talent is, the impact is about doubled when you understand that Rachel is blind and has been from birth! Rachel's mom, Jeanie Flowers, furnished us the following information about Rachel:
She started playing piano at two, became a So. Cal Conservatory of Music student at four. Through SCCM she learned to read Braille Music Code, learned music theory and history and keyboard techniques aimed at the blind pianist. Also at SCCM she learned to use the computer for composing, arranging, sequencing and recording music. (Lack of funding has shut down the SCCM Braille Music Division, unfortunately, shutting off this resource for Rachael and other blind musicians.) Rachel started playing flute at 10 and is now quite accomplished on that instrument and she dabbles with many other musical instruments, finding her way around them on her own. She has an affiliation with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a result of her studies at SCCM and through the Monk Institute she was asked to perform at a dinner honoring Herbie Hancock. (Both Hancock and Monk have been subjects of earlier articles in "Jazz News ".) At that dinner she met Herbie, Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, Clark Terry and Hubert Laws - a noted jazz flute player.
Please, everyone, do this; visit Rachel Flowers' website at:
~ Bob Gaston
Jim Holbrook has gotten some feed-back about Rachel Flowers, our Jazz Camp student for 2009 via an e-mail from her mother, Jeanie. Rachel got home on Sunday, August 2nd. The kids did concerts every night and Rachel brought home a CD of those songs. Jeanie intends to get the names of all the kids in Rachel's band (which they called "Owls in the Shower"), and she says the CD is really great - amazing, she says. Rachel and her mother will work on a more detailed write-up about the Jazz Camp experience that we will include in a future edition of our Newsletter. This week Rachel is engaged in a band camp at Hueneme High School, a busy girl!
It's the gifted, young teenage pianist, Rachel Flowers, and her proud and supportive mom right there wearing an ear-to-ear smile with camera perched high to catch every precious moment of her child's per- (Cont'd - Page 10)
Back Yard Jam Session By Jim Holbrook
On Sunday, August 30th Jess and I were pleased to be able to host for the entertainment and enjoyment of a group of friends and neighbors, in the park like setting of our back yard, a quartet playing some great, very cool jazz.
This very talented group of musicians included, on keyboard, Rachel Flowers, the young lady sponsored by our Jazz Club to the Sacramento Youth Jazz Camp this summer, and on guitar was another of our recent Jazz Camp students, Wesley Bakewell. Playing along with these two fine young musi~ cians and helping to show them the way were two "old pros" who we all know and admire; Jim Wade on string bass and Bert Alton on drums. (Yes I said drums, not banjo!)
What a superb job of playing some outstanding jazz.