The Joshua Sutherland Sextet, composed of five Berklee City Music scholars, played their first gig at Wally’s jazz club last month. Founded in 1947 by Joseph L. Walcott, “Wally” was a Barbadian immigrant and first African American nightclub owner in New England. Wally’s is the last remaining South End jazz club from the mid-twentieth century and still has live music nightly. It is a beacon of “Mass Ave Jazz.”
“America is the birth place of Jazz and the music will only continue if we provide young musicians a place to perform and perfect their craft.”
Wally’s commitment to showcasing young talent continues with the opportunity afforded the Joshua Sutherland Sextet. The group is comprised of Joshua Sutherland (keyboard), Christoff Glaude (bass), Antonio Shiell-Loomis (guitar), Faraday Fontimus (trumpet), Darryl Staves Jr. (drums) and Brett White (saxophone). The three City Music High School Academy students and three Berklee College of Music undergraduates created the band during the 5-Week Summer Performance Program and began rehearsals last fall. The group recorded a demo and went to Wally’s repeatedly to inquire about a possible gig. Their persistence paid off, and the owner offered them a one-night gig at Wally’s on January 23, 2014.
Joshua Sutherland said that the group was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to play at Wally’s, but admitted that nerves accompanied the excitement. The sextet felt both the pressure of living up to the standards of the club and the surrealism of becoming the very performers they had once watched play there. Sutherland said that as a result of the performance, “now we know what our purpose on earth is.”
When asked about the band name, Sutherland said that the official name is pending; “it’s hard to find a name six people agree on.” While the band name may be up for discussion, the quality of the music is not in question. After a stellar debut performance at Wally’s, the sextet received an offer to return as regular performers. They will be playing at Wally’s every 2nd and 4th Thursday. If you are local, swing by to support these talented students and this historic jazz club!