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Learn about Rhode Island's jazz greats in four-session continuing ed course in July
June 20, 2013
The fact that Rhode Island has produced some internationally recognized jazz musicians may come as a surprise to many, but not to longtime CCRI instructor Lloyd Kaplan.
Kaplan, who has been applying his encyclopedic knowledge of the genre in classrooms at CCRI and elsewhere for nearly four decades, is offering a new noncredit course called “Big Time Jazz in Little Rhode Island” through the college’s Center for Workforce and Community Education (CWCE) next month at the Knight Campus in Warwick.
“It’s utopia,” said Kaplan of the four-week course, which runs on Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. from July 9 to 30. “There are no exams. There is no pressure. It’s just pure learning.”
Kaplan said the course is fully a listening and appreciation course, meaning that students don’t have to be musicians to attend; there will be no playing, he said, aside from the live concert that he usually treats his students to at the end of each course’s run.
Kaplan, a professional musician since 1953, plays clarinet and saxophone with his four-piece band, The Aristocats, who can often be seen at campus events and in libraries around the area. His love of jazz – its spontaneity, the improvisation, the flow and give and take between musicians – is readily apparent when he talks about the art form. His eyes light up as he talks about playing with his band, whose members have never rehearsed and don’t play from sheet music. It’s not hard to see how infectious his enthusiasm for the genre would be in the classroom.
“It’s such a nice feeling,” he said of teaching listening-based classes such as this one, which tend to draw a diverse crowd whose interest in music is borne of a curiosity and appreciation much like his own. “It becomes almost like a social club. The people who take it usually come together as a group.”
Kaplan found his inspiration for the course in the mid-’80s, when he took a sabbatical and embarked on a writing project, a historical tome titled “Who’s Who in Rhode Island Jazz: C. 1925-1988.”The book, which he co-authored with guitarist Robert E. Petteruti, was published in 1990 and will be getting an updated edition this year.
“At the time, I was playing in a group with some wonderful players who were older than I was, and would talk about some of these big names of people in Rhode Island who played jazz. And I didn’t know any of those people. And it got me thinking – if I don’t know them, the general public won’t know them. And it was just a matter of time until they were all forgotten, and that bothered me,” said Kaplan.
Now, through this CWCE course, students can join Kaplan as he takes them on a musical journey through some of the biggest names in jazz to come out of Rhode Island. Through CDs and DVDs, students will be introduced to Bobby Hackett, Dave McKenna, Scott Hamilton and more of the names that came up through Rhode Island and strut their stuff on the national and international stages.
Other than being able to share his love of music, Kaplan said the thing that he loves most about teaching courses like this one is that he learns as much as the students do, and that keeps life exciting. “It’s wonderful, teaching so many intelligent people that really want to learn and ask wonderful questions and bring their own wonderful experiences and backgrounds to the class,” he said.
“Big Time Jazz in Little Rhode Island” costs $64 plus a $5 registration fee. For more information or to register, visit the CWCE website.