Utah band leader to play with favorite musician at Carnegie Hall

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AMERICAN FORK — Hailing from American Fork, Utah, the Crescent Super Band has won numerous awards from Downbeat Magazine and performed around the world. Now they're getting ready for their biggest gig ever.

Band leader Caleb Chapman instructs and conducts more than 150 young musicians in 11 ensembles for Caleb Chapman Music, including the Crescent Super Band. The band consists of 25 musicians, none of whom are over the age of 18. They have traveled around the world and performed with musicians like Pancho Sanchez, Randy Brecker, and Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band.

In 2011, Chapman was named the John LaPorta International Jazz Educator of the Year, one of the highest honors in music education. At 37, he was the youngest to ever receive the award.

But Chapman has taken quite the journey to get where he is today. He says he didn't even like listening to the radio when he was a kid.

"Even though you can't tell by looking at me now, I was a jock," he said in an interview with Dave McCann. "I wanted to play anything that had a ball."

Even though you can't tell by looking at me now, I was a jock. I wanted to play anything that had a ball.

–Caleb Chapman

Chapman played the saxophone in elementary school, but says he only did it to get out of study hall.

During the summer of his sixth grade year, Chapman asked his mom to go to soccer camp. She ended up signing him up for music camp without talking to him.

"So my mom sends me to this camp, and the only benefit I could see is it was co-ed, and that sounded pretty cool when you're in junior high," he said.

When Chapman got to camp, he was surprised. Instead of playing typical school band music, they played pop, rock and jazz.

"I was like, ‘Are you kidding? You can do this on a saxophone?' " Chapman said.

A few weeks after that camp, Chapman's mom came home with a cassette tape of legendary saxophonist David Sanborn. He says that was the turning point.

"I put in that cassette tape and it changed everything," Chapman said.

Chapman went on to attend BYU and graduated with a degree in music. He founded the band while attending school there.

Fresh out of BYU, and at the prodding of his wife, Chapman opened a successful music school in American Fork more than 14 years ago. But when the economy tanked, the school closed. Chapman found himself at a crossroad.

"My wife said, 'You need to be doing this. Get off your butt and go back to work,' " Chapman said. "I am so glad I listened to my wife."

Chapman rebuilt his business, Caleb Chapman Music. He believes that music can inspire young people.

I'm in favor of anything that will challenge kids to be great people. And that can happen on a football field. It can happen in a math. For us, it happens here in a music studio.

–Caleb Chapman

"I'm in favor of anything that will challenge kids to be great people," he said. "And that can happen on a football field. It can happen in a math (class). For us, it happens here in a music studio."

The Crescent Super Band is getting ready to headline a show at Carnegie Hall. Chapman says this is by far the biggest gig the band has ever had, especially since he gets to play with one of his favorite artists.

"For me, this Carnegie Hall trip for me in that sense is a bit of a full circle. I thought I want to get someone really special as a guest artist. So I called David Sanborn and I told him what we were doing, and he signed up," Chapman said.

The music school is tucked away in American Fork, but famous musicians like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Genesis and the Dave Matthews Band love to perform with the Crescent Super Band.

"You know, music is the most important thing to great musicians like The Stones or guys in the Dave Matthews Band. And the fact that they're successful and get to make a living at it I think for all of them is kind of a bonus," Chapman said. "(Jeff Coffin from the Dave Matthews Band) comes in every year and he says it keeps him creating. He doesn't come in and lecture. He comes, takes out his instrument and plays with these kids, and that keeps him energized to keeps him doing what he does every day."

Chapman says he didn't plan to start a music school. He thought he'd be working in an office building in a suit for the rest of his life.

"When I am having lunch with Dave Matthews I'm (thinking), ‘How did I get here?' " he said. "Or when we're playing these stages I feel like, ‘How is this happening to me?' "

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is honoring Caleb with the prestigious 2013 Utah Performing Artist Award in a special dinner reception at the Governor's Mansion.

YouTube video produced by Earl Cahill.


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