Thursday, February 12, 2015

High School All-Stars Alumni Interview: Nora Stanley

February's alumni installment features a young woman who has been a big part of SFJAZZ Education in 2015. Nora Stanley was with the High School All-Stars 2013-2014 on baritone saxophone, and after graduating from Berkeley High School, headed east to Oberlin College. Nora returned to us briefly this winter as an intern, and our organization was lucky enough to be able to pick her brain just at that incredible moment of being one semester into the music conservatory experience. How is performing music different in college? What's the best part and what will you do differently? With Whiplash making such a splash in the Oscar pool right now especially, conservatory freshmen are a fascination more than ever. Read on to learn about the passion and diversity that accompany the rigor in that transition for a jazz musician.

Nora performing on the Miner Auditorium stage

You play a lot of different instruments. Can you tell us what they are and how they relate?

"I play alto and flute mainly, but have also played baritone and soprano saxophone as well. The saxes all have the same fingerings and similar concepts but, as I learned from going back and forth between them a lot, each sax requires a different embouchure and technique. I started studying on flute but moved logically (flute and sax have similar fingerings) to sax to be able to be more versatile in a jazz context."

Some of the All-Stars sax section at the 2014 Alumni Jam Session

You describe your interest in jazz as being a very sudden "ah ha" moment, versus a slow discovery; what was that catalyst and what did you do once you knew?

"I definitely had a moment when jazz first spoke to me, but I've always been obsessive about music of all kinds. My passion for jazz definitely grew over time, but was first sparked by hearing Lucky Thompson’s recording of "You Don't Know What Love Is" on KCSM while riding in the car with my dad when I was about 9 or 10 years old. After that I began to explore my dad’s extensive jazz collection and really fell in love. I started taking piano lessons, then added flute, and subsequently sax."

Nora (second from right) with members of the All-Stars at the 2014 SFJAZZ gala

What were some of your experiences in the High School All-Stars that related to or prepared you for your work at Oberlin so far?

"In the All-Stars, I met incredible musicians with great passion for the music who hailed from all over Northern California. At Oberlin, I've similarly met many passionate musicians from all over with different backgrounds and relationships to jazz. I think one thing I’ve loved about my time in the High School All-Stars and also at Oberlin is discovering different individuals’ unique relationships to the music they're making, which is what makes each musician different and interesting and in essence is the reason we all keep listening to music. If we all had the same backgrounds, reasons for playing, and relationship to the art, music would be boring, right?"

1 comment:

Post a Comment