Student pianist Christian Li recounts his experience playing the CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival on August 7 with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Septet. Read the official press release on Berklee.edu, and hear a live recording of the concert on NPR.
Hello everyone! This is Christian Li, the pianist for the Global Jazz Institute Green Ensemble, here to give you brief emotional synopsis of my experience at the Newport Jazz Festival.
I heard somewhere that this festival is known as the “Mecca of Jazz.” I don’t know if this applies to those coming to watch the festival or those playing; at any rate, the experience of playing felt very much like a pilgrimage, a rite of passage of sorts, an affirmation that – for me – music was indeed the driving force behind that highly esoteric concept known as “being.” I hope the same applies to those watching the various performances that day.
All faux-transcendentalist clichés aside, this particular ensemble has grown pretty close over the year. I feel incredibly comfortable with them, and all the musicians are very supportive of each other. As a result, I wasn’t nervous before the show at all. If you’ve got a good group of people around you, the nerves sizzle and become steam. I kind of wish I had them instead of laughing gas before I got my wisdom teeth out. The only thing that was different this time was that it was Newport. Sometimes the entire weight of history would come crashing down on me. The world’s oldest jazz festival…all my heroes have played here…everything that happens in history rests on the current moment, so I better not be the one to prove all of it wrong… But again, when you have a good group of people around you, the nerves tend to dissipate.