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Fundraiser aims to get kids involved in the Buffalo jazz scene

Local musicians are coming together to help advance jazz education throughout the Buffalo Public Schools.

The Buffalo Jazz Collective is holding a fundraiser tomorrow to help finance the first annual Floyd Fried All-City Jazz Festival. The festival will feature several jazz ensembles including an all-city group. Artistic Director Mark Filsinger said the goal is to get students involved with the talent around the Buffalo jazz scene.

"You have to know what the goal is in order to know what to practice for and what you're aiming for," said Filsinger. "Interacting with professional musicians and hearing great bands... that was a really really important part of my education."

Money raised will pay for workshops that allow students to interact with current jazz performers like Bobby Militello, who has played alongside jazz legends Maynard Ferguson and Dave Brubeck.

Rochester has had the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, a group made up of many of the area's best high school jazz students, since 2002 aided by the professional talent of the Eastman School of Music. Buffalo has had jazz groups like this in the past, but none on this scale. Filsinger said collaboration is imperative.

"I know that the professional musicians that play on these concerts love interacting with these students and they think it's great," said Filsinger. "Hopefully, this is a way to keep advancing music in the area and keep jazz happening in Buffalo."

Buffalo has deep ties to jazz history in the community, from being the birthplace of Grover Washington Jr. to the Colored Musicians Club. Floyd Fried is part of that history.

Fried was a classical cellist from Orchard Park who saw students that wanted to play jazz. He taught the Arts Tech Jazz Band, a collaboration between Performing Arts and Hutch-Tech High School musicians that Filsinger once played in. He called it one of his greatest experiences from growing up in a public school.

"We thought we were so cool getting to play and open up for Chuck Mangione and getting to meet these people," said Filsinger. "We got to meet Maynard Ferguson and we opened up for him. Those experiences made us really feel like we were part of the jazz scene. That's sort of my inspiration for wanting to do something like this with the city and create an all-city band and pass along those experiences to these students."

The jazz festival will take place February 3-4 and is currently planned to be free to the public. A week after that performance, the all-city jazz band is going to open for SUNY Purchase Director of Jazz Studies Pete Malinverni at the Buffalo History Museum. Filsinger believes experiences like this will encourage students to remain active in Buffalo's jazz community. 

Credit Nick Lippa

Sunday's fundraiser will be at Flying Bison on 840 Seneca Street from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is $25 at the door. The event will have live jazz provided by the Mark Filsinger Eleventet.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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