Entertainment

Artist Profile: Bellingham's Jud Sherwood pursued music from an early age

Jud Sherwood, 47, grew up in Bellingham in a family that stressed the importance of the arts. His mother, Dorothy, was a music major in college, and his father, Tom, was (and still is) in the visual arts making gold-leaf egg tempera paintings, silverpoint drawings, sculpture, and woodblock prints.

Sherwood, a drummer, founded the nonprofit Jazz Project in 1997, and from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, the organization hosts the annual -- and free -- Bellwether Jazz Festival on Tom Glenn Common, near Hotel Bellwether. He'll be playing with Mark Taylor and Bill Anschell as well as with Blues Union.

Here's his story:

Question: Who encouraged you to get into music?

Answer: My parents, who are probably my biggest fans I'll ever have, encouraged both my brother and me (he played trumpet and valve trombone, and is now a successful recording engineer in Los Angeles) to pursue our interests in music.

They always provided lessons, often at the expense of other household necessities. I think my parents were my best role models and probably the reason I'm doing what I do today, playing music professionally and running The Jazz Project to support other musicians and students the way I was.

My parents always encouraged but never insisted I play music; it was just part of daily life growing up. My brother, who is five years older, was probably my best critic, always telling me what I needed to become a better player, so he was probably my best mentor, because I took his advice seriously. I've since been able to work with him on a number of recording projects, which has been a very rewarding experience.

Q: When did you first become interested in pursuing music?

A: I began violin lessons at age 4 and continued until he was 11, then decided that I didn't want to be in the sixth-grade orchestra at Fairhaven Middle School. At my brother's suggestion that I "play something cool like bass or drums," I quit the violin and took up the drums instead.

I bought my first drum set the following year and got my first paying gig at 16. At 18 I attended college at the University of Rochester, a private liberal arts university in upstate New York, so I could gain access to the Eastman School of Music.

I took courses at both the Eastman School of Music and the College of Arts and Sciences. I returned to Bellingham after graduating in 1989 and began producing jazz concerts in 1992.

Q: What's the story of the Jazz Project?

A: I started The Jazz Project in 1997 to create a professional performance organization that was player-centered, one where the needs of musicians were addressed first (where good pay, a listening audience, and a professional performance venue were all a given).

The first concert season in 1999 had two series and 13 concerts. Now The Jazz Project has grown and cultivated a following that has led to more than 100 events per year.

Along the way IJud Sherwood, 47, grew up in Bellingham in a family that stressed the importance of the arts. His mother, Dorothy, was a music major in college, and his father, Tom, was (and still is) in the visual arts making gold-leaf egg tempera paintings, silverpoint drawings, sculpture, and woodblock prints.

Sherwood, a drummer, founded the nonprofit Jazz Project in 1997, and from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, the organization hosts the annual -- and free -- Bellwether Jazz Festival on Tom Glenn Common, near Hotel Bellwether. He'll be playing with Mark Taylor and Bill Anschell as well as with Blues Union.

Here's his story:

Question: Who encouraged you to get into music?

Answer: My parents, who are probably my biggest fans I'll ever have, encouraged both my brother and me (he played trumpet and valve trombone, and is now a successful recording engineer in Los Angeles) to pursue our interests in music.

They always provided lessons, often at the expense of other household necessities. I think my parents were my best role models and probably the reason I'm doing what I do today, playing music professionally and running The Jazz Project to support other musicians and students the way I was.

My parents always encouraged but never insisted I play music; it was just part of daily life growing up. My brother, who is five years older, was probably my best critic, always telling me what I needed to become a better player, so he was probably my best mentor, because I took his advice seriously. I've since been able to work with him on a number of recording projects, which has been a very rewarding experience.

Q: When did you first become interested in pursuing music?

A: I began violin lessons at age 4 and continued until he was 11, then decided that I didn't want to be in the sixth-grade orchestra at Fairhaven Middle School. At my brother's suggestion that I "play something cool like bass or drums," I quit the violin and took up the drums instead.

I bought my first drum set the following year and got my first paying gig at 16. At 18 I attended college at the University of Rochester, a private liberal arts university in upstate New York, so I could gain access to the Eastman School of Music.

I took courses at both the Eastman School of Music and the College of Arts and Sciences. I returned to Bellingham after graduating in 1989 and began producing jazz concerts in 1992.

Q: What's the story of the Jazz Project?

A: I started The Jazz Project in 1997 to create a professional performance organization that was player-centered, one where the needs of musicians were addressed first (where good pay, a listening audience, and a professional performance venue were all a given).

The first concert season in 1999 had two series and 13 concerts. Now The Jazz Project has grown and cultivated a following that has led to more than 100 events per year.

Along the way I've been able to perform and present hundreds of world-class musicians, and form lifelong friendships with these performers. I've also learned by the seat of my pants how to navigate the financial ins and outs of the nonprofit sector in order to keep hundreds of musicians gainfully employed.

The project is part concert presenter, part service organization. It is funded by individuals, corporate and government grants, as well as through program services. The project presents four concert series and the Bellwether Jazz Festival; administers the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band; and provides services to working musicians and students through its medical fund, health savings pool, scholarship and lesson fund, and by refurbishing donated instruments for students and families who can't afford their own."

Q: What's cool about the Jazz Festival?

A: The coolest thing about the Bellwether Jazz Festival is that it took a drummer (me) to get the port and city of Bellingham to work jointly on a waterfront project. Other cool things include the fact that it's free and open to all ages. There will be a beer-and-wine garden for those 21 and older.

We have a diverse cross section of music, from Brazilian bossa and samba to blues to more progressive and straight-ahead jazz. Basically, something for everyone. Should it rain, we have the Bellwether ballroom reserved and could move inside.

Q: What else occupies your time besides music?

A: I end up doing a lot of ghostwriting for entertainment editors for publications throughout the Northwest. Writing the news instead of making the news. It's not always fun, but it is my job. I also teach beginning squash at the YMCA and try to be on the court at least six hours per week.

Q: Anything else we need to know about you?

A: Before graduating from college I took a course in Suzuki violin pedagogy after not touching a violin for 11 years. When I returned to my childhood home, my parents had painstakingly had my great-grandfather's 19th-century Albani violin restored. Though I still have it, I rarely play. I'm just not much of a violin player any more. I'm better off playing drums.ve been able to perform and present hundreds of world-class musicians, and form lifelong friendships with these performers. I've also learned by the seat of my pants how to navigate the financial ins and outs of the nonprofit sector in order to keep hundreds of musicians gainfully employed.

The project is part concert presenter, part service organization. It is funded by individuals, corporate and government grants, as well as through program services. The project presents four concert series and the Bellwether Jazz Festival; administers the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band; and provides services to working musicians and students through its medical fund, health savings pool, scholarship and lesson fund, and by refurbishing donated instruments for students and families who can't afford their own."

Q: What's cool about the Jazz Festival?

A: The coolest thing about the Bellwether Jazz Festival is that it took a drummer (me) to get the port and city of Bellingham to work jointly on a waterfront project. Other cool things include the fact that it's free and open to all ages. There will be a beer-and-wine garden for those 21 and older.

We have a diverse cross section of music, from Brazilian bossa and samba to blues to more progressive and straight-ahead jazz. Basically, something for everyone. Should it rain, we have the Bellwether ballroom reserved and could move inside.

Q: What else occupies your time besides music?

A: I end up doing a lot of ghostwriting for entertainment editors for publications throughout the Northwest. Writing the news instead of making the news. It's not always fun, but it is my job. I also teach beginning squash at the YMCA and try to be on the court at least six hours per week.

Q: Anything else we need to know about you?

A: Before graduating from college I took a course in Suzuki violin pedagogy after not touching a violin for 11 years. When I returned to my childhood home, my parents had painstakingly had my great-grandfather's 19th-century Albani violin restored. Though I still have it, I rarely play. I'm just not much of a violin player any more. I'm better off playing drums.

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