St. Olaf student performs with renowned musician Wynton Marsalis
St. Olaf College student Jack Schabert ’24 has long been involved in the jazz scene on campus and throughout the Twin Cities, so he’s used to creating great music with talented artists.
But this fall he played with a musician so renowned that the concert was kept under wraps until right before it began.
Schabert played in a quartet alongside Wynton Marsalis, a revered trumpet player, composer, and teacher. Marsalis is the artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and he has won nine Grammy awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his jazz album Blood on the Fields. He is famous in both the jazz and classical worlds, being the only musician to win a Grammy in both categories in the same year.
This fall Marsalis came to St. Paul to perform with the Minnesota Orchestra, conducted that weekend by William Eddins. In addition to his Minnesota Orchestra performance, Marsalis was also scheduled to perform in the MetroNOME Brewery, which was opened by Eddins and St. Olaf graduate Matt Engstrom ’94 with the mission of funding music education for underprivileged students in the Twin Cities.
Eddins also invited Schabert to play as part of the quartet with Marsalis. Schabert only found out about the event several days before, and had to keep the performance a secret until right before it began.
“We had a rehearsal with Wynton for about an hour on the day of the show,” Schabert says. “He walked in the room, shook our hands, pulled his horn out, and just started playing. We had to figure out what tune he was playing and catch up with him, all on the fly. He offered up a word of advice or two, and then we put together about eight tunes to play for the show that night.”
Although they only revealed the event to the public about half an hour before playing, the venue filled within 20 minutes.
“I learned a lot at that show. Playing with somebody like Wynton will expose just about every flaw in your playing, while teaching you how to operate on pure musical intuition. That stuff cannot be learned in a practice room,” Schabert says.
I learned a lot at that show: playing with somebody like Wynton will expose just about every flaw in your playing, while teaching you how to operate on pure musical intuition. That stuff cannot be learned in a practice room.Jack Schabert ’24
Schabert is studying music education at St. Olaf and is active in the jazz community in the Twin Cities, leading and performing in professional jazz groups. Over the summer, his groups played five to six gigs a week in restaurants, clubs, private events, and senior homes. He has also performed at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the New Hope Music Festival.
After St. Olaf, Schabert plans to either pursue a master’s degree or perform full time. Eventually, he hopes to explore both of these areas.
“Live jazz is a fragile privilege that we have in the Twin Cities,” Schabert says. “I hope everyone can find time to get out and enjoy some of the great musicians we’re fortunate to have around here.”