Boplicity with Josiah Burton: A Testament to the Importance of Music in Schools

Media by Frances Trujillo.

In the world of jazz, Boplicity is not just a song written by¬†Cleo Henry, who is also known as the famous American jazz musician¬†Miles Davis. Boplicity is a jazz style; it is light, uplifting, nimble, and often a soothing sound. However, jazz does not stop there. Jazz has captured many like Josiah Burton’s ears with a broad history of styles, sounds, and trends, such as BeBop, HardBop, Cool Jazz, Free Funk Jazz, Fusion, European Free Jazz, NeoBop Jazz, Soul Jazz, Big Band Jazz, and more.

Burton, a sixteen-year-old junior in high school and jazz trumpeter, lives, breathes, and craves the rhythms, tunes, and melodies of jazz. Some readers might be thinking, “Wait, he is only sixteen?” However, don’t be fooled by his age. This young man demonstrates strong nostalgia, despite never having lived during times of old. Burton asserted that his inspirations are Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, and Miles Davis. He is mature beyond his years, and his demeanor should be embraced and admired.

Media by Frances Trujillo.

Burton says he traces his passion for art and music to his upbringing, where creative expression was encouraged and supported to the fullest. However, as he has gotten older, he has realized that music is something he was born to love. Some of Burton’s earliest memories go back to when he was ten years old in an art gallery in St. Louis, Missouri named 14th Street Artists Community. This gallery was co-owned by his father, William Burton Jr., and there were times that local music groups would come to perform. One group in particular, “Creative Pandemonium,” an African music band, captivated young Burton’s ears. He then began to pursue the sound of African drums and rhythms that eventually drew him to the horns’ sound. He would play any instrument that would come close to the sound of a horn, such as the flute. However, it was Jason Torrey, a tender saxophone player, that challenged him to learn the saxophone. He then practiced on the mouthpiece until he was in the sixth grade. When he got to high school, music classes were finally offered to students. He chose to play the trumpet, thinking it would be easier to play. However, he later found out that this unique brass horn was going to be a relationship no one could come between.

Burton said, “I have a deep connection with music, and at this point in life, it is like food; I can’t go a day without it. Music gives me purpose; I dream of the day I’m able to attend a university to major in music with a minor in digital arts.” However, if schools and colleges continue to cut funding from programs like art, music, and other fine art electives, it would not only be a disservice for young men and women like Burton, but for people as a whole. Art is an expression, and many people rely on the arts to help them connect and learn with the world. It is academically beneficial for students like Burton. He continued to say, “And it is like Miles Davis once said, ‘Jazz is just another revolution,’ just as art is.”

Despite the fact that art and music programs are continuously squeezed out of the education system, Burton stated with confidence that nothing would stop him from chasing his dream to be a jazz musician. “I’m not chasing the buck; I’m chasing my purpose. The best advice I’ve been given was from my trumpet instructor Dale Campbell. He said, ‘Do as much as you can to achieve your dreams, and don’t let anyone get in the way of those dreams.'” He is working hard on his dreams, staying focused on his studies, and taking every opportunity to have jam sessions with his friends. (One of these jam sessions is in the Youtube video above, and it features Evan Wohlrabe (16), Jackson Denholm (16), Jared Spears (16), Oliver Buckley (16), Anthony Williams (16), Evan Christman (15), Keshon Duke (19), J’lyn Smith (19), and Wick Hardison (19).) Burton says, “Whenever I have the chance to get out and jam with these amazingly talented friends, I always feel like I’ve found my place to escape and be free, They help me be free through the music, connections, and energy that thrive from those connections. Watching our audience feed on the energies is beautiful, and watching them enjoy their selves along with us is pretty beautiful, too.”

Media by Frances Trujillo.

As of the summer of 2020, Josiah Burton made it to the Jazz All-Stars, which is also known as JazzU, in St. Louis, Missouri.

Media by Frances Trujillo.

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