Conservatory Alum Jim Mair Performs at Havana Jazz Festival


Jim Mair (MA, music, 1990) who directs the Kansas City Kansas Community College Blue Devil Jazz Band, performed with his band at the Havana Jazz Festival, November 16, 2014.  The Jazz Band stole the show in its opening performance in the Jazz Festival. Cubans danced in the aisle and the band drew a lengthy standing ovation from a crowd of upwards of 500 that nearly filled a performance center.

In its final performance, Director Jim Mair invited members of Cuban and Norwegian bands to join the KCKCC band in playing improvisational solos in a pair of jazz classics, an offer that was quickly accepted by a half-dozen musicians from both of the other bands. The band finished with its rendition of Kansas City featuring vocalist Dr. Cherilee Walker, Dean of KCKCC Humanities and Social Sciences. 

“Having musicians from other countries join us was my big highlight,” said Mair. “I literally had tears in my eyes seeing all the smiles and the joy. The Cuban trombone player played the Star Spangled Banner during his solo and then smiled at the band.”

Mair picked two songs in which he knew the Cuban and Norwegian musicians could perform after hearing them and joining them in jam sessions. “We all spoke different languages but when it came to jazz, all were playing a common language,” said Mair. “Jazz is a great unifier and the epitome of democracy.”

excerpted from an article by Alan Hoskins, photo credit: Alan Hoskins

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