You all are familiar with the Jabby Monster – they get a lot of face time here. You may not be as familiar with my older “monster,” Paul (y). Mr. PP is leaving the nest this fall – heading to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. He’ll be continuing his music education and hopes to become a professional drummer. He has had some amazing learning and performance opportunities during his high school years. The one I am most proud of is his work with the group he helped found – Johnny Cilantro and the Well-Seasoned Sextet. I’m proud not because these guys achieved notoriety or made tons of money, but because they worked hard and were committed to making things happen for themselves.
These are 6 extremely talented dudes who met through school and high school state music festivals and decided they wanted to work together to form a legitimate, working jazz ensemble. They themselves contacted venues to secure gigs. They traveled an hour and a half each way to practice together (most of them are from Champaign). They figured out how to get themselves to and from gigs that weren’t always close by. They’ve written original pieces. All while juggling their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and visiting/applying to colleges.
The six of them agreed almost from the start that they wanted to save their gig money to record an album before they all went off to school. Now, like a lot of fledgling musicians they often didn’t get paid enough to cover the cost of gas to get to wherever it was they played. Sometimes they just played for food. But they did make some money here and there. Not a lot, but over a couple of years it added up. They had a designated “treasurer”. They used money for gas and maybe food once in awhile or to pay out a sub or extra musician, but most of it they saved.
A couple of weeks ago their hard work and planning came to fruition. These six high school kids (well one is a freshman in college, but when 5 high school kids and one college student are together I’m pretty sure the mental atmosphere swings toward the high school kid end of the spectrum) headed to Earth Analog Studio in Tolono, IL and had one of the coolest “last hurrahs” I can think of – they recorded their first and last album.
The most I ever got asked to do throughout all of this was to show up with my camera once in awhile 🙂 Atta boy, son. I’m so proud of you!
Oh, and they have a few live gigs left before they officially disband. Give a CLICK and check them out!