When Gerald Watson and DJ 2-Tone Jones came to Nichols College, it was my privilege to join them for lunch. Both men were gracious, intelligent, and passionate about Shaolin Jazz. Shaolin Jazz is an entire concept–not just music but a culture. Watson and Jones had an idea, made it happen, and never gave up trying. That method indeed worked as Nichols students saw for themselves.
I discuss the origins of Shaolin Jazz here. This concept was given life and has succeeded beyond what either man ever thought. Now there are several different factions to the Shaolin Jazz culture. Shaolin Jazz was intended to be on campus for two days – Febrauary 18 and 19 – but the awesome snow that just kept piling down on us delayed their flight. Watson and 2-Tone were here Wednesday only, but made the most of their time to benefit the students. They gave two lectures, offered class visits for discussion, and set up an art exhibition called Color of Sound.
The Creative Branding Lecture took place in Davis 205/207 at 3:30 pm. Watson and Jones brought Nichols College students through a brief history of how the concept of Shaolin Jazz began. From there, they discussed how creative branding can work in your favor, how to keep going after what you want, and what steps Watson and Jones took to get Shaolin Jazz out into the music world. They spoke of listening parties — events where Shaolin Jazz is played, artwork displayed, and food and drink served (how cool is that?!).
The artwork is created by Aneikan Udofina, an artist who has been working with 2-Tone and Watson for over ten years now, and keeps Shaolin Art alive. When Watson, Jones, and Udofina came together to discuss Udofina creating the art, all involved knew this was a no-brainer. They had worked together before and were confident in the outcome. These visual interpretations of Shaolin Jazz are affordable and accessible, one more branding strategy of the group. All of the products are accessible to the public.
The second show at Nichols College, the Culture Lecture, took place in Davis at 7:00 pm. This was an exploration of exactly who and what Shaolin Jazz is. While the first part was intended to inspire business and marketing, the second part was left to music, fun, experience, and Shaolin Jazz. The parallels and similarities of both the jazz and hip-hop cultures were explored. This was incredibly well received among the Nichols community.
One part of Shaolin Jazz the Nichols College community was not able to experience is Shaolin Jazz Live, which is absolutely worth mentioning. Shaolin Jazz Live is comprised of band members who play all over the US. DJ 2-Tone Jones has made history becoming the first and only DJ to play at Blues Alley, a legendary jazz supper club in Georgetown.
All in all, the day spent with Shaolin Jazz was amazing. Great things are coming to Nichols College thanks to Susan Wayman and the Fischer Institute!