WORCESTER, Mass. — The future of jazz was on the air in Worcester yesterday as an ensemble of young talented musicians from the Joy Of Music Program's Jazz Trane performed live on WICN Public Radio - with Holden's Victor Pacek playing bass for the quintet of music students.
"This is the future of jazz, and the future of music is in good hands it looks like," said host Joe Zupan on the air yesterday after the group performed their first tune, Witch Hunt by Wayne Shorter.
Pacek, a sophomore at Wachusett Regional High School, is a student at the Joy of Music Program (JOMP.org), which has been providing advanced musical instruction to many Holden and Worcester area students for 25 years.
"There's so many different opportunities there," said Pacek, who has been participating in various Jazz ensembles at JOMP for about six years.
Also forming the ensemble were fellow JOMP students Chris Huck on trumpet, Gretchen Henrich on flute, Peter Hodskins on the piano, and Sam Palermo on drums.
Live on the air, the ensemble performed a variety of jazz tunes from composers such as Shorter to Charles Mingus, and later that evening some of them would be playing together again at the Worcester Art Museum.
Though it wasn't his first time playing at WICN, Pacek was excited for the opportunity, explaining that he loves performing live for an audience.
"Just having that experience with an audience, you can't get that practicing in a room," he said.
The group of students meets weekly after school, with their instructor Jerry Sabatini providing them with an education on the great Jazz players and helping shape them into creative and knowledgeable musicians — all while having a lot of fun along the way.
"It's fantastic, because everyone wants to be here," said Pacek. "It's a great group of kids, and they're really fun to hang out with."
Pacek started attending JOMP after school since he was 6, though he actually began with a drumming class.At the age of 8 that he started playing electric bass, and had also taught himself to play the baritone horn and tuba in middle school because they had no place for electric bass in their music program at the time. Currently, he plays five string electric, four string fretless and the upright double bass. A talented electric guitar player in his own right, Pacek often spends hours deconstructing and learning classic guitar riffs and solos and designing and building many of his own effects pedals for his guitars. Though Pacek says he grew up on progressive rock like Rush and Yes, he took to Jazz quickly, knowing that "such a huge part of Jazz is the bass," and that it would open up many opportunities in music. "I thought, this could take me places," he said. "And Jazz roots every other genre, really, so if you can play Jazz, you can play whatever you want." Furthermore, Pacek takes a lot of what he learns at JOMP back to Wachusett, where plays bass in the Jazz Combo and Honors Jazz Ensemble, and is the lead Tuba player in one of their concert bands. "I come back to school and will be jamming with people, and they'll ask, 'where'd you learn that?' and I'll tell them, and I can teach them stuff, too. So it's really cool." While still only a sophomore, Pacek is in the process of choosing music colleges to attend, with Berklee and the New England conservatory high on his list of choices. Naturally, the joy of music is close to Pacek's heart, and what he loves about it is "the ability to express yourself in a way that is universal to every person."