Hailey Niswanger of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute writes in from her international summer tour.

The HNQ has just landed in Kaua’i and we are so excited to be here. Friday night’s gig at Jimmy Mak’s was a huge success. The first set was completely full, with many familiar faces of friends and family. It is always a pleasure to play in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, the support from my friends, family and fans is incredible. I was so happy to see my best and closest friends there.

Although we go long periods where we never see each

other, we pick up right where we left off and it feels as though I have never

been apart from them.

All of the sets that night had high energy, and the crowd loved the music. One of the highlights was a gift I had for a very dear friend of mine. My mentor, Norman Leyden, jazz and classical clarinetist, composer, and arranger, as well as the retired associate conductor for the Oregon Symphony, was there to see me perform.

Norman is very special to me, and being that he is 93 years old, I wanted to be sure to write a piece of music dedicated to him before it’s too late. The piece I wrote was of course titled, Norman, and is a swinging chart that one can effortlessly dance to. I could see my gift to him brought tears of joy to his eyes, and after the first set he told me that no one has ever done that for him before. I was so glad to be the one to give him this gift. I love him very much.

Our quartet had so much fun that night, and although it was our longest gig yet, from 8 to midnight, we enjoyed every second of it. It was crazy for me as my two worlds of Berklee and home we colliding, but it was fantastic! I definitely hope to bring them back in the near future.

More later from the islands…



To find out more about Berklee’s summer concert series, please visit us at Berklee.edu. There, you can find out more about your favorite artists and where you can see them next!