The Generation Next of jazz musicians doesn’t have to stay long to hog the limelight anymore in Nigeria. With their saxophones ready and getting the basics from the masters, there isn’t any fear ofan uncertain future with mere back stage cameos.
They came from different parts of the country andof different sexes, all united by the love for the sax and to perfect their crafts. It was a cacophony of jazz on Saturday, November 23, 2018, at the RCCG, The Shelter, Anthony Village, Lagos, as Olujazz D’Talkative held a one-day interactive session with 200, budding Nigerian jazz musicians.
Other facilitators, aside Olujazz, included Yomi Oyelade, aka Saxtune; Isaac Gerald (an R&B singer), Ayola Jolayemi (his manager), and Isiaka, a sax technician.The major aim, said the frontline jazz player, was to raise a new crop of saxophone players that would compete with the best in the world, because Nigeria was lagging behind in this genre of music.
One of the secrets of his success, he added, was learning from the best, home and abroad. Having made fame and fortune in the industry, he, therefore, thought it wise to give back to the society.
“I think it’s the right thing to do to help people to that they can to have more jobs, and stop begging us, because there are no jobs anywhere in the country. We also want people to share in the blessings and stand on their feet,” he hinted.
Olujazz had seen it all, from the local to the international, playing alongside some of the best in the jazz world. For beginners, there were possibilities of hitting stardom once they got it right. “When you play your saxophone, you can earn a living. Don’t let everybody deceive you. You can live big,” he said.
The free workshop began with Olujazz teaching participants the elementary of sax, from the definition of the musical instrument itself to the nitty-gritty of it all. The audience followed with keen interest as he taught what concert instrument and embouchureentailed.
He lamented that the quality of sounds being produced in Nigeria. “We are not getting good sounds in Nigeria,” he said. “I am not saying they are bad, but they are not good enough.”
As a way of practicalising what he was about to teach, the jazz artiste called on a group of budding saxophonists to try out some sounds, emphasising that “when you have a good embouchure, it is even.”He pointed out, however, that though those he called out, tried their best, their embouchure were uneven. Hence, he advised them to work on their embouchure.
Before giving them exercises on embouchure, he cautioned again, “If you are playing the overtone, keep your embouchure at the same level. Done with embouchure, he moved over to tone. “Make sure your sound appeals to people,” he added. Among others, he taught them different modes of saxophone.
The saxophonists enjoyed free services of their saxophones. They also enjoyed free meals, courtesy of Olujazz. That wasn’t all: those who came from outside Lagos were provided with hotel accommodations and living allowances.
Chatting with the press after an interval, Olujazz said there was no yardstick used in choosing participants. It was open to all comers to pre-register, which explained the huge turnout. Olujazz intimated the press that it wasn’t going to be a one-off thing.
“For now, we are thinking it’s going to be annually. This is costing us over a million naira. We are putting people together to coach and feed them. We are also giving them free transportation and accommodations for those who couldn’t afford it. We have people from Nsukka, Ife, Nekede, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, all over the country.”The saxophonists were subsequently divided into different groups for easy synergy.
Needless to say, holding the maiden Olujazz in Concert few months ago in Lagos was a mind-blowing experience for the American-trained saxophonist. “It actually gave me an inside that lots of people got what they had been missing. During that concert, people got their lives saved, because we had both circular and conventional jazz. People are already calling for the next edition. I am hoping it’s going to hold October 2019,” he said.