Jazz has come a long way over the decades. What started as a call-and-response song though the cotton fields of the south, has now become an uptempo beat familiar to most.

In edition to its evolution, jazz has sparked the creation of many sub-genres: Latin jazz, classical jazz, funk, b-bob, acid jazz, and vocal jazz, for example.

While jazz may not be a popular mainstream genre today, its musical roots have set the foundation for many popular artists.

Rock n’ roll, R&B, and hip-hop have all been seminally influenced by jazz. Further, one of the unique aspects of jazz is the combination of lyrics and sound. Without lyrics, jazz can convey many emotions. With lyrics, the emotions become more profound.

This spring, Vanier Catholic Secondary School will be exploring the vibrant world of jazz in a musical called Pick Up the Jazz, showing May 7 and 8 in the school’s small gym. This musical is particularly special, because it almost never happened. “Originally we were not going to do a musical,” says Kim Hart, musical director at Vanier.

However, in the winter Hart reconsidered and thought it might not be a bad idea. “January 4 is when I decided we were going to do the musical,” she laughs. “I thought it would be awesome for the students to learn through a performance.”

The premise of the musical centres around a group of students who are working on a jazz project. “They sort of go through time and explore jazz during different decades. Essentially the students are playing themselves as they explore the music,” Hart says.

Types of jazz covered will include songs by Miles Davis, and the genres of blues, swing, spiritual, b-bob, and funk. The songs will be performed by a group of students, and the school orchestra will be delivering the music. Some portions will involve audience interaction.

It’s a very unique approach to a musical; it’s not often that musicals entertain and inform. With rehearsals underway, students are working hard. The show takes place Thursday, May 7 and Friday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available at the door.