The atrocity happened, and soon, support came pouring in for the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas community. Superstar athletes came to visit the students. Actors and entertainers from all walks of Hollywood and Broadway staged events and even marched with the students in their calls for societal change.
Now the jazz world is getting involved.
Three luminaries of music are playing a concert with the students of the Stoneman Douglas jazz band.
Pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophone and clarinet player Paquito de Rivera, and trombonist Wycliffe Gordon flew down from New York for the gig Tuesday night at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts.
“It’s just an outpouring of support for these kids and through the love and the art of music itself,” explained Matt Calderin, the director of the MSD jazz program.
For those not familiar with jazz musicians, Hancock, Gordon, and de Rivera are each world-renowned superstars of their genre. They joined the kids to inspire them, to help the community’s healing process, but that seems to go both ways.
“These kids have motivated the world, so that includes me,” Hancock said. “They have lifted my spirits, they have instilled more hope in America that we can make a better country.”
I feel like this is where I belong,” said de Rivera, a Cuban-American legend.
“I think I receive too much from life and I have to give back something, and I feel it’s my duty to be here.”
For some of the kids, the experience on stage isn’t just about rubbing shoulders with legends and learning from the best, it’s about paying tribute to close friends who are no longer here.
MSD student Daniel Journey plays a bass with Joaquin Oliver’s face painted on it. He thinks of his buddy every time he plays it.
“It’s like a tribute to the 17,” Daniel says, describing the concert. “And it’s not like grim at all, it’s fun music, kinda brings back good memories instead of bad memories.”
The show is a benefit for the Alex Schachter Scholarship Foundation. Alex was a freshman trombone player in the band.
“Words can’t even express how much I miss him, he was my best friend,” said MSD student George Nesmith, who played trombone with Alex. “If Alex was here right now he’d be freaking out because the people that we’re playing with right now are just amazing and they’re our idols, I really wish he was here to play with them.”
Everyone’s grateful for the musical support, especially the Schachter family.
“All the kids and all the adults who passed away would’ve loved this kind of concert and to see everyone coming together, we’ve got a packed house, a sold-out venue, and we’re all gonna have a little bit of joy in this miserable, horrible situation,” said Max Schachter, Alex’s father.
A little joy, a lot of jazz, it’s all good.