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Outdoor Concert Concludes Creative Music Center Jazz Camp



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MONROE — Creative Music Center, 701 Main Street, hosted a summer jazz camp that concluded July 30 with a public outdoor performance featuring its students.

The company serves music teachers and students, school music programs, and adult musicians throughout Connecticut, including Newtown. The shop also provides lessons, instrument rentals, and music accessories to the K-12 market.

Beyond the local community, Creative Music Center (CMC) is also a national leading music retailer and has been named among the Top 100 music stores in the United States by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) in ten out of the last 11 years.

So, when a group of local parents led by Newtown resident Natalie Cowley came together wanting to provide students with a music outlet as COVID-19 restrictions eased, they collaborated with CMC to make it happen.

CMC has a long history of hosting workshops, including for jazz bands and rock masters.

The initiative came to fruition thanks to the help of CMC’s lessons manager Barb Masuk and staff teacher/jazz professional Anthony Pellegrini.

Both staff members were determined to make this a positive and safe experience for all. The two had an outdoor tent set up where the students could perform in an open-air environment, and Pellegrini created the six-week curriculum.

CMC President Mike Reisman, who stepped in to continue the business upon the death of his wife Elizabeth (Liz) Reisman in 2019, said Pellegrini was impressed by how quickly the students mastered the material.

“They did not decide on their set list until the fifth of sixth rehearsals, and the music that was chosen was more complex than he had assumed they could handle in such a short period of time,” Reisman explained. “This is a tribute to the kids given they had not played formally since before COVID hit in March of 2020. That said, I was told the kids were getting together intermittently in the proverbial garages and basements of their parents’ homes just to jam and freelance.”

When it all came together, the jazz camp was CMC’s first group class and performance in 18 months.

‘Terrific’ Concert

Reisman told The Newtown Bee on August 3 that the concert was a “terrific” event all around.

“We had an absolutely gorgeous night,” he said. “And after being cooped up by COVID for so long, the kids — and parents — deserved the perfect night of weather.

“That said, we did ensure everyone’s peace of mind with certain COVID protocols including 1) social distancing for the audience; 2) social distancing for the musicians; and 3) conducting the performance outdoors in our parking lot versus doing it in our performance room in the store,” he added. “We also provided bell covers for all the instruments — a staple of COVID music-making here and in the schools.”

Students performed “Work Song” by Nat Adderley, “Blue Bossa” by Kenny Dorham, “Song For My Father” by Horace Silver, “Surfin’” by Sonny Stitt, and “This I Dig of You” by Hank Mobley.

In addition to Cowley, whose son Evan plays piano, other Newtown parents involved include Carla Barzetti, whose son Johnny plays baritone sax; Kelly Connors, whose daughter Abby plays bells/percussion; Michelle Dargon, whose son Liam plays drums; and Josephine Feola, whose daughter Victoria plays oboe and son David plays alto sax.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Creative Music Center staff teacher/jazz professional Anthony Pellegrini, far left, stands with jazz camp students during their public outdoor concert in Monroe on Friday, July 30. —photo courtesy Mike Reisman
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