Jean Caze’s Kreyol peace song
Jean Amédé Caze thought learning the trumpet would be easy. Once he got it home, he realised his mistake. “It took me three days of trying just to make sound come out of the instrument,” the 35-year-old laughed. “I’ve been battling with it ever since. The trumpet is the kind of instrument where you always have to be conditioned.
“It’s not like you learn something and it stays that way for ever. Your lips change on a day-to-day basis due to humidity and hydration; there is a lot of co-ordination involved with mouth position, breathing, and fingers. It’s not an easy instrument at all.”
Still, he seems to have mastered it.
Mr Caze “created a certain amount of industry buzz” when, at 24, the trumpeter and flugelhornist placed second in the “very well known” Thelonius Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition in Washington.
Concerts with Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock and Mariah Carey followed. He now tours extensively with Grammy Award-winning Michael Bublé.
“When you work with a big artist it really puts your training to the test,” the musician said. “You learn a lot from how they lead and how their presence affects everyone around them.”
This week he’s in Bermuda, one of several artists performing at Celestial Productions’ jazz and gospel concert on Saturday. He believes part of his success is due to the musical boost he got from Haiti. Mr Caze and his family emigrated from the Caribbean nation to the United States when he was a baby.
He was 20 before he made his way back — and fell in love with the island’s music. Two years later he returned to perform with Reginald Policard, the Haitian pianist and composer. “Music training in the United States typically doesn’t include much Caribbean music,” said Mr Caze, whose second album, Amédé, fuses Caribbean and North American music. “Even though I was connected, I had to do some research and find out how to blend both of my cultures together in a way that felt genuine to me.
“I could spend a whole lifetime understanding the different types of rhythms and melodies that our rich culture has. I started to go to Haiti to work with artists who were doing Haitian jazz.”
His base, however, is Miami, Florida, where he lives with his wife and one-year-old daughter. “I haven’t been travelling so much since my daughter was born,” he said. “At the same time, I do believe it is important to continue your goals even if you have children because you are setting an example for them. “You want them to see you can do more than one thing. I can be a father and a musician.”
That he’s able to support his family through his passion “makes [him] proud” as does his work with the charity Young Musicians Unite.
“We pick up the slack in the public schools,” he said. “We come in and work with a group of students after school. “I do my best to teach them about life through music. I tell them that in order to be successful in music and put on a good concert, you have to practise so that you feel confident. You have to learn how to work well with others. I introduce them to improvisation. You have to have a certain amount of confidence to make up something on the spot and have to have a certain amount of discipline.”
He was last here 14 years ago to play with British band The Jazz Gents. “I had a great time and I’m looking forward to coming back,” he said.
Tickets for A Night of Live Gospel & Jazz are available on www.ptix.bm. The concert begins at 7pm at Sandys Middle School. Part proceeds will go towards the Bermuda Society for the Blind and Open Airways. For more information: 234-6700 or www.jeancaze.com.
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