Shortly after Wessell "Warmdaddy" Anderson opened his saxophone case Friday, jazz reached new heights at Buffalo's Academy for Visual and Performing Arts.
Anderson, who gained fame playing with Wynton Marsalis, was in town for a performance Friday evening. He spent the morning dispensing encouragement, advice and humor to the school's award-winning honors jazz ensemble.
"You've got to snap the rhythm out," Anderson told the trombone section. "You've got to play with an attitude. You've got to play the way people want to hear it."
Carmen Intorre, the drummer, was urged to play more softly in certain portions of "No Business Blues."
"I know you want to look good in front of the girls," Anderson said. "I understand that. But you're working too hard. If you start (loud) at the beginning, you don't have any place to go."
The young musicians, who won a top prize at last year's prestigious Berklee Jazz Festival, were riveted.
"It reinforces what I do, but it takes it to another level," said Ben Boyar, the Performing Arts conductor. "He's at the top of the field."
Anderson stressed teamwork, technique and the need for continual improvement.
"You have to see each other," he said in a soft but animated voice. "You've got to play with a lot more compassion. Use the dynamics."
He also urged the musicians to take their cues from their section leaders, and to be ready to follow them anywhere.
"If he makes a mistake, y'all make a mistake with him," Anderson said.
In a rousing version of "Killer Joe," Anderson played impromptu duets and trios with band members, and stepped forward for several solos.
"I've gotta' show off," he whispered to the saxophone section.
The students loved it, and so did Boyar.
"There are kids here whose dream is be like him," he said. "This connects the picture for them."