Facebook Twitter

Caleb Chapman keeps the beat going

SHARE Caleb Chapman keeps the beat going

AMERICAN FORK — Caleb Chapman is a jazz musician and producer with an extensive resume.

As a saxophonist and active musician, he has performed with a host of Grammy-winning artists. He has played on the recordings of a variety of well-known artists, and he's performed the national anthem for the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz. He is also a board member of the Jazz Education Network and is president-elect for the coming year, serves as festival director for the Peaks Jazz Festival, and has directed musicians at the Puerto Vallarta Jazz Festival and the JENerations Jazz Festival.

But he says the greatest thing he's done in life so far is bring musicians to a point where they love the music they make — and receive college scholarships as a bonus.

On Feb. 26-27, audiences can get a taste of Chapman's music and method as he leads the Crescent Super Band, one of the youth ensembles he directs, during the Peaks Jazz Festival in West Valley City.

Chapman, 42, is a high-energy force of music personality dedicated to teen musicians and creativity. His musical movement started in November 1998 when he opened a small music school in American Fork with his wife while he was still in college, according to his website. Now, almost 18 years later, Chapman has worked with thousands of young musicians, teaching them soul, swing, rock, reggae, funk and fusion at what he now calls Caleb Chapman's Soundhouse.

He directs 250 musicians ages 7-18 in 17 bands, 11 of them elite ensembles such as the Crescent Super Band, chosen from open auditions every September for a 12-month stint.

The groups travel all over the world, performing this past year on tour in the British Isles, Cuba, Peru and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Next year, Caleb Chapman's Soundhouse musicians will go to China.

The musicians recently made music at the RootsTech event in Salt Lake City. They perform for corporate events, compete at festivals all over the world, and they played by invitation in Carnegie Hall in New York in May 2013.

Jeff Coffin, a graduate of Chapman's school and a Grammy-award winner with the Dave Matthews Band, said Chapman and the Crescent Super Band have "stunned" him on many occasions.

"The band plays at the highest level of musicianship I have ever heard from young musicians. Unbelievable!" he said in a statement on Chapman's website.

Chapman said he shows his student musicians that it's possible to do whatever they want to do with their music by expecting them to develop good practice habits, build teamwork and enjoy a good rapport with one another and their audience.

"First, we don't put limitations on them. We ask them to do what most think is impossible," Chapman said. "They meet and exceed their expectations technically, musically and emotionally.

"We empower them. It's not a typical teacher/student relationship. We have producers and musicians. They manage themselves," continued Chapman, who was named Utah's Best Educator in 2011 and Best Music Educator in 2012 by the Utah Best of State awards. "When you take away the traditional teacher vs. student environment, you don't have the silly behavioral issues anymore. Peer pressure takes care of that."

His methods have been recognized many times over. He was named the John LaPorta International Jazz Educator of the Year in 2011 at the age of 37, and in 2013, he was invited to the Utah governor's mansion to receive the Utah Performing Artist Award, an award given annually to one artist who is considered to have made a significant contribution to art in Utah. Chapman was also appointed by the governor in 2014 to serve as the music representative on the Utah Arts Council Board, an appointment ratified by a unanimous vote of the Utah State Senate.

Chapman has helped thousands of young men and women graduate from high school, and he says he's proud that all of those musicians have been offered music scholarships. Graduates of Chapman's school have won spots in the country's best music schools, including Juilliard and the Berklee College of Music. They have won multiple Best of State awards over the years and 22 DownBeat student music awards.

Evan Wharton is one of Chapman's success stories. Wharton is a senior producer at Caleb Chapman's Soundhouse and directs seven of the group's youth bands. He was a student of Chapman's as a teen and now has a thriving musical career he credits to studying with Chapman.

Chapman released a book in 2013, co-written by Coffin, "The Articulate Jazz Musician," explaining his style and his methods. It's sold over 10,000 copies.

He has opened Chapman-style music "schools" in Denver, Chicago, St. Louis and Nashville. Ultimately, he wants to open 100 Soundhouse locations across the country.

"For me, it's fun all over!" Chapman said.

Chapman is the ultimate shadow master as he guides and encourages and often picks up his saxophone to join in the fun and improvise with the kids.

"They are way easier than working with adults," he said.

Chapman said the program is very noncompetitive with a "no man left behind" kind of team spirit and vibe.

"People assume our purpose is to create tons of musicians and to make money," he said. "We are doing music at a very high level, developing very high skills of leadership, self-discipline and confidence. It's exciting. It's fun."

If you go ...

What: Peaks Jazz Festival concerts

Where: Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South, West Valley City

When: Feb. 26 and 27, 7-10 p.m.

How much: $10

Phone: 801-763-0200

Web: calebchapmanmusic.com

Note: Tickets can also be obtained from any Caleb Chapman musician

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com