When Naazir Person picked up the trumpet in junior high school, he was just interested in learning the instrument and had no particular style of his own.
Dizzy Gillespie stood out, but there was “just too much going on,” in Gillespie’s sound, Person said. Then he heard Miles Davis, and everything changed.
“Miles was very meditative. I loved the phrasing,” said Person. “I immediately related to that.”
Now Person not only plays jazz but also educates people about it.
And on Sunday afternoon, the Manhattan-based trumpet virtuoso and music teacher, along with his newly created quartet, performed for about 100 jazz enthusiasts at the Freeport Memorial Library.
The performance was part of the library’s monthlong commemoration of Black History Month. Person and his quartet, consisting of Chuk Fowler on piano, Paul Ramsey on bass and Larry Johnson on drums, gave a heartfelt performance, then provided the audience with a jazz education.
Dedicated to his mission of raising awareness of the art form he lives and loves, Person has been collaborating with media consultant and fellow musician Cay Fatima.
Fatima did not play an instrument on Sunday. Instead she sat on the sidelines with her laptop and projected a multimedia backdrop for the show, adding a level of depth and interest.
“This is so important,” said Fatima. “Naazir is giving people a real education. I’m so happy I was able to connect with him.”
Johnson, the drummer, connected with Person as well, but only days before Sunday’s gig. In true jazz tradition, without much preparation, Person heard Johnson’s trio, loved them and asked them to play the gig with him.
“One rehearsal,” said Johnson with a smile. “But we [the trio] all know each other, and we all know the music, so this is the way to go. It’s only brand new once.”
And with that spirit of improvisation in mind and heart, Johnson picked up the first few chords that Fowler threw his way, felt them for a few bars then launched into a thick Afro-Cuban beat that immediately set the sound -- and the band -- on fire.
“Jazz is American classical music,” said Person minutes before taking the stage. “It’s underfed and it’s underheard. I’m here to raise awareness of this music.”