Eastwood creates think tank for music, art

Photos by Matthew Busch/The Herald
Musician Kyle Eastwood, right, performed for students in a Jasper High School art class with his band, the Kyle Eastwood Jazz Band, on Thursday afternoon. Students drew whatever they felt inspired to create as they listened to the performance. The band is touring the country, including a stop at 7:30 tonight at the Jasper Arts Center. For more photos, click here.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — The sparse decor of a high school art classroom was transformed into a bluesy New York night club Thursday afternoon as about 45 students drew artistic inspiration from the rhythms of the jazz band before them.

This is the second year that Jasper Community Arts Center education coordinator Donna Schepers has invited performers to play for the students at Jasper High School.

Musician Kyle Eastwood chatted with students of a Jasper High School art class during a performance of his band, the Kyle Eastwood Jazz Band, at the school Thursday.

On Thursday, upright bass player Kyle Eastwood — son of Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood — and his band mates from New York City brought their instruments into the classroom.
Students from the drawing and painting classes were invited to sit in during the band’s performance of jazz standards while sketching whatever forms came to mind. Jazz band members were allowed to bring their own instruments and join in during the songs.

“In programs like this, we have an opportunity to go beyond,” Schepers said. “We’re taking this into the creative realm where the students have the opportunity to participate artistically through painting, drawing or jazz improvisation.”

Schepers took the stage before the band performed and asked each student to imagine themselves in a jazz club in New York.


“You are transported. This is very casual, as any jazz club would be. The music, the instruments, whatever is happening in this space, that is your inspiration. You can draw, you can paint, you can write. Just try to have fun,” she told them. “Enter into the abstract of jazz.”

Artists hunched over their papers as the music swelled around them. Some chose to draw the instruments and performers themselves, while others drew bending shapes to represent the sonic experience.

“It was cool. It was a lot of fun because it was jazz and I like the music,” said junior Alexa Nordhoff as she waited for Eastwood to sign her charcoal drawing of a saxophone. The painting class student added that the program was a welcome change from the typical classroom art atmosphere.

Jasper High School juniors Jared Coller, center, and Jake Day, right, played alongside the Kyle Eastwood Jazz Band during a performance for the school’s art class Thursday afternoon. Coller and Day are members of the JHS jazz band. Eastwood Jazz Band member Joe Strasser, left, played the drums and Alex Norris played the trumpet. Strasser and Norris are both from New York City.

About halfway through the performance, jazz band member Jake Day, a junior, joined in the music with his guitar. The band paused during the song to allow Day to improvise his own solo, an important element of all jazz music.

“I wanted to play with Clint Eastwood’s son so I can say that for the rest of my life. I’ve never played with anybody of this caliber before,” Day said, adding that he has been honing his guitar skills for the past nine years. “They’ve all been playing professionally for 20 years.”

Later, junior Jared Coller joined his friend on stage by playing the bongos. Again, Eastwood’s band allowed him to feel the music and play by himself.

“I was a little nervous,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting a solo.”

As the performance ended, Eastwood asked the students to show off their art. Many gathered around the band to explain their inspiration for the drawings.

Schepers walked throughout the room, complimenting the students on their work. The students will have the opportunity to add further detail to their projects in their free time or turn the drawings into sculptures.

Schepers said the program has been well received both last year — when Canadian trio The Good Lovelies visited — and this year and hopes the inspirational performances can continue in the future.

“This is a think tank for music and for art,” she said.

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.

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