Sunday, April 14, 2024

Berklee bound


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by Eric Smith
?HE LOVES JAZZ but enjoys all genres of music and wants to ensure that this passion of his is turned into a successful career.
?Young saxophonist Mylon Clarke has started the journey and got the ideal jump-start last weekend when he was chosen for a five-week summer internship at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
A very polite young man, Clarke last year completed an associate degree in music at the Barbados Community College and he feels honoured to have been chosen for this short stint at one of America’s best music schools by an elite panel of judges – Nicholas Brancker, Deryck Walcott and Arturo Tappin.
The opportunity came during the 11th annual Sagicor Christmas Jazz show held on the grounds of the Prime Minister’s official residence at Ilaro Court last Sunday. A master class for young musicians was held the previous day at The Dining Club, Newton, Christ Church.
The organizers of the annual show will take care of the tuition while the American Embassy will cover the airfare, accommodation and meals. He also received $300 in equipment from A&B Music Supplies
“It will help me in a lot of areas,” Clarke said. “It will help me in terms of being good on my instrument, in addition to which the knowledge gained at Berklee will help me in the future. I will also be able to share what I learn with others on my return.”
He hopes the exposure will kick-start his desire to do a full degree. “I would really like to study overseas, perhaps at the same Berklee, but I recognize that funding is a challenge.”
It has been an interesting journey to date for this resident of Pinelands and former student of Wilkie Cumberbatch and Parkinson Memorial in his desire to become a professional musician. After graduating from playing the recorder he wanted to play the clarinet but ended up with the saxophone. He grasped the opportunity and never looked back. While he has focused on the alto and tenor saxophone, he has not turned down the opportunity to play the ?baritone saxophone.
“Really and truly I wanted to play the clarinet, but the saxophone chose me,” [Punctuation Space] he said. “Another guy and I were top students and I wanted to play clarinet.
I just looked at it and liked it. But, I have no regrets. I also practice with the flute, I have only been playing for a short period.”
This 22-year-old musician has been doing a number of gigs and also trying to hone his skills by constantly practicing. “I play with many groups but have my own The Project which is a jazz band. I also (play)
with 1688, Molasses and NJ Trio, also jazz bands, while during this year’s Crop Over festival played with the Soca Royale band. I have a leaning towards jazz but love all genres.” He also played with the BCC’s big band.
Clarke, who applied three years ago to join the Royal Barbados Police Band but was unsuccessful, is undeterred since “I want to make music a career and my dream is to travel the world, meet new people, see different places, and try new foods.”
With an interest in arranging, Clarke wants to eventually record original music.
In the meantime, he would like to see more of the live band experience he had heard was so prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s since he feels this would help the public to have a better appreciation of a wider cross-section of music. At the same time he wants radio stations to play more local music. “This is one of the things I would really like to see,” he said.
This young musician enjoys strong family support with his mother, stepdad and brother behind him.


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