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    Aakanx Panchal

    This week’s Member Profile features alto saxophonist Aakanx Panchal. He shared some of his thoughts about the program:

    How has the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band experience been so far?

    So far, being part of the Youth Big Band has been a lot of fun. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and play with many great musicians my age. Weekly rehearsals with Jules Estrin and occasional sectionals with guest clinicians have been a blast.

    What has been your favourite performance this year?
     
    Performing at the Old Mill in Toronto with Randy Brecker has definitely been my favourite performance this year. I still remember how shocked we all were when we first met him at one of our rehearsals. It was an exhilarating experience performing alongside such an international jazz icon.

    The group has been coached by a number of guest clinicians this year. Is there a particular one that you really enjoyed?

    Out of all the guest clinicians, I most enjoyed learning from Pat LaBarbera. I really liked his sound on alto and the way he interpreted our charts from a lead alto perspective. He showed me specific areas where I could improve that I felt really helped my playing.

    What upcoming event(s) are you looking forward to the most and why?

    I’m looking forward to the concert at Lula Lounge with UTJO (the University of Toronto Jazz Orchestra). Some past members from the Youth Big Band are in UTJO and I’m excited to share the stage with them.

    The Youth Big Band program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?

    I would tell them that I’m incredibly grateful for their contributions. Without them, programs like the Youth Big Band (and starting this year, the ‘Junior’ Youth Big Band) would not be possible. Our generous donors and sponsors are the backbone of jazz and arts education initiatives.

    How has your playing changed since you joined the Youth Big Band?

    Thanks to Jules Estrin and our guest clinicians, since I joined the Youth Big Band, my lead playing has gotten much better. I have also seen improvement in my sight-reading, my improvisational ability, and overall, my ability to play well in a section.
     
    What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?

    Currently, I have been listening to “Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago”––a great album featuring both Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. I especially love the blend of tunes on the album, some relaxed ballads and some blazing-fast Cannonball and Coltrane specials. I find the interplay between each of their unique time-feels particularly inspiring.
     
    Do you have any plans for the summer?

    My family and I are thinking of going to India this summer to meet some family and friends. I have not gone back since I first came to Canada so I’m looking forward to that this summer. I also plan on going to IMC (Inter-provincial Music Camp) again, for my third time. It’s always been a great time staying there in their cabins, meeting new musicians, and best of all, having the opportunity to learn from some of U of T and Humber’s incredible jazz faculty.
     
    Do you plan to audition for the group next year?

    Unfortunately, because I am in grade 12, this would be my last year to be eligible for the band. However, like some other past Youth Big Band members, I would not mind subbing for one of next year’s alto players!

    Is there anything you’d like to add?

    I did not get into the band on my first try last year and I even started thinking about not auditioning this year. Some of my friends from IMC convinced me to try out for the Youth Big Band one more time. I worked towards the audition, got into the band, and I think of how much I would’ve regretted it if I actually hadn’t auditioned again. This band has truly been a great experience and I recommend musicians of every level to audition.

    Lightning Round:

    Favourite musical artist: Michael Brecker
    Last live concert / show you attended: Kirk MacDonald & Harold Mabern (Markham Jazz Festival)
    Favourite TV show or movie: Full House
    If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’ve been to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida with my family before. It was a great trip and I would love to travel there again.



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