Student guitarist Kenji Herbert blogs from NYC, where he played with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Octet at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola this week, as part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Monday Nights with WBGO series. Read the press release here.

Playing in New York is always something special. That giants such as Bird, Miles and Coltrane once walked the same streets and breathed the same air, that the city continues to write jazz history on a daily basis, is both daunting and exciting. The opportunity to perform with the Berklee Global Jazz Institute at an esteemed venue such as the Dizzy’s Club, of course, takes this feeling to another level.

We huddle backstage before our first set. Everybody hums the first note that comes to mind, a ritual we learned from Danilo Perez, the Institute’s artistic director. There is noticeable tension in the chord, but also a serene sense of trust and camaraderie. Some great music is about to happen. We have received the guidance of master musicians to help us get here. Now it’s up to us. Attention is key. The music can go anywhere…

After the concert a lady approaches me and tells me how much she enjoyed our playing, how she felt that we are keeping this music called jazz alive. I realize at that moment that the performance is a success. If our playing has the power to somehow convey that the torch is being passed on to a new generation, that alone is probably the greatest testimonial for what is happening in the Global Jazz Institute.