Ed Littlefield and Reuel Lubag of the Native Jazz Quartet talk about their philosophy and work with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Their summer workshop offers students a chance to approach jazz from a different angle: “We find melodies that we hold dear, melodies that we grew up with,” Littlefield says, and create jazz arrangements. This year, students are working with a traditional Tlingit lullaby, one that Littlefield learned from local elder Charlie Joseph in the 1980s.
The group applies the same principal to songs gleaned from many backgrounds.
“One of the big concepts behind the group is that you take wherever it is you’re from, whatever your background is, whatever melodies you might have grown up with, and adapt those to the style of jazz,” says Lubag. “My folks came here from the Phillipines. I don’t know a lot about Filipino culture, because they raised us to be Americans. [But] there are a couple melodies in particular that I used to hear my mom sing, and so I brought a couple of those things into the mix.”
The final student performances in the Native Jazz Workshop will be this Friday, July 18, at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of the Rasmuson Center on the Sheldon Jackson Campus.
On Saturday, July 19, at 7 p.m., the Native Jazz Trio will perform a full-length concert with singer Dee Daniels at the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books.
You can find more information at sitkafineartscamp.org/shows.