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Catholic Memorial trumpeter knows music - and all that jazz

Aldred's ensemble represents Midwest in Big Apple

Feb. 21, 2012

Alec Aldred was in his element.

He was surrounded by people who are as passionate about music - particularly jazz - as he is, and he was in a city that is quite suitable to his tastes.

As a member of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, the Catholic Memorial senior performed in New York City last weekend for the 2012 Charles Mingus High School Jazz Competition.

"We're staying in Times Square right on Broadway, so it's really been awesome," Aldred said Monday afternoon while he was spending his last day in New York City sightseeing with his parents.

Aldred's group, the Jazz Institute Batterman Ensemble, was one of only four ensembles from around the country who performed at the competition in the Big Apple.

"He's really dedicated and is a great kid who has helped our group a lot," said Wisconsin Conservatory of Music President/CEO Karen Deschere.

East Coast competition

Aldred, who was joined by five other students from area high schools, performed on Sunday afternoon inside the John C. Borden Auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music. While the judges didn't award them the top prize, Aldred had no complaints with the way his group performed.

"We didn't win, but I felt pretty compatible to the others," Aldred said. "It was a great competition and really exciting."

It was exciting for Aldred's group because they were competing in the Specialized Schools and Programs category with groups all from the East Coast (Hartford, Conn., Montclair, N.J., and New York City).

"We did very well," Aldred said. "I'm very happy with our performance, individually and as a group. We did an awesome job and it was great to see all of our hard work pay off.

"We were the only group representing the Midwest. That was really cool."

This is no doubt a feather in Aldred's cap, but he would like many more experiences like this in his music career.

Off to Florida

After graduating from Memorial in the spring, Aldred plans on attending the University of Miami (Fla.) to study jazz and pre-med.

"At this point, I'm not exactly sure where (those degrees) will lead me," Aldred said. "I know I want to go to medical school. That's the plan right now. We'll see where it goes."

The decision to head to South Beach will allow him to continue working with Brian Lynch, a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter who grew up in Milwaukee and earned a degree from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.

Aldred said he has developed a relationship over the last two years with Lynch, who is now an assistant professor of jazz trumpet at the Frost School of Music at Miami.

"I went down there last summer and really liked the program and the whole feel of the campus," said Aldred, who is involved in Memorial's concert band, jazz band and blues band.

However, Aldred is living in the moment and enjoying the latest highlight of his music career.

Aldred started playing the piano when he was 5 years old and still plays the piano. But the trumpet is his love and the 17-year-old from Waukesha has been playing the instrument since he was 10.

He has applied his talents as a member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and took private lessons with Eric Jacobson of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. With Jacobson's recommendation, Aldred auditioned to be a member of this ensemble a couple of years ago.

In addition to performing in New York City, Aldred got to experience the city.

He went to a number of jazz clubs including the Iridium, which was holding a Miles Davis festival last weekend. Iridium is also the club where Waukesha's own great musician Les Paul played at for many years during his illustrious career.

With Aldred sharing the same passion as Davis, who was an American jazz musician and trumpeter during the 20th century, Aldred relished the opportunity.

"That was awesome," said Aldred, who also does theater work at First Stage in Milwaukee. "It's been really cool with the great music scene around the city."

While he missed a day of school for the competition, Aldred did go through a couple of learning sessions as he took part in workshops and clinics run by veteran Mingus musicians and educators.

"That part was really rewarding," Aldred said. "It was really inspiring to be taught by world class musicians and to find out what level we are on."

The trip has also gotten his music juices going.

"It's been an overall great experience," Aldred said. "I definitely want to come back to New York soon. I'm definitely inspired to go home and practice."

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