Metta Quintet celebrates jazz music

January 12, 2012|By Heather Youmans
  • The Metta Quintet will perform at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.
The Metta Quintet will perform at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The New York-based Metta Quintet will explore new artistic territory in a one-night show in Orange County on Jan. 27 celebrating the globalization of jazz music.

In "JazzReach: Big Drum/Small World" at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, the quintet will perform a multimedia concert paying tribute to the lives and music of eight commissioned jazz composers from around the world.

Also included in the lineup is original music from members of the ensemble: Tim Green (alto saxophone), Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone), Lawrence Fields (piano), Joshua Ginsburg (bass), and Hans Schuman (drums).

In addition to the evening concert, the Metta Quintet will carry out two JazzReach activities intended to expose young people to jazz music. On the morning of Jan. 27, the Quintet will perform a free multimedia concert for an invited group of 700 elementary students from the Irvine Unified School District, followed by a jazz clinic at one of IUSD's middle schools.


"In arts education, we function similarly to nutritionists who are trying to correct the eating habits of young people," Hans Shuman, executive director of JazzReach, said in a phone interview. "We want to make sure people are culturally and intellectually nourished as well."

The Big Drum/ Small World concept will provide the foundation for both programs, one targeted for young people in the day and another for general audiences that night. Also, a corresponding album titled "Big Drum/ Small World" will be released on Feb. 21.

"Big Drum/Small World came about as a means to promote the globalization of jazz" said Shuman, who founded the Metta Quintet.

"Living in New York, which has always been considered the jazz corner of the world, we're sort of at the epicenter of what's happening in the music," he said. "Over the last 10 years or so, with globalization, the music has evolved in that way, too. The music has always vividly reflected our national character. The fact that jazz has become globalized only makes sense because it is a reflection of the greater culture at large."

In response to the rising tide of globalization, Metta Quintet founder Hans Shuman commissioned music from artists residing from places as diverse as West Africa, Israel, Cuba, Puerto Rico, India and the United States.

"There were artists from all over the world who were not only mastering the language of the American jazz tradition, but bringing elements of their own cultural heritage and their own artistic sensibilities into the music," Shuman said.

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