The boy behind the jazz

For nearly a decade, Jared Mulcahy has honed his skills on the upright bass.

Specializing in jazz music, the Skaneateles High School junior was recently honored in the June edition of the jazz trade publication Downbeat Magazine in its 33rd Annual Student Music Awards.

Mulcahy was chosen as one of five outstanding musical performers by high school students in the United States.

And he traces his love for music back to his musical family from a young age.

"Since I was a kid, I've been fed great music by my dad, especially Jimmy Hendrix," Mulcahy said.

His father, Tim, is a "recreational musician" that plays guitar and sings for fun. His mother, Kristen, is a music teacher at State Street School in Skaneateles and his older sister, Rachel, studies musical theater at SUNY Fredonia.

When Mulcahy was in second grade, his mother suggested he take up the upright bass. However, he said it wasn't until eighth grade that he began to realize his musical strengths.

"I'm definitely glad I chose the bass because it's a universally needed instrument," he said.

It was also during this time that he began to focus on jazz.

"I like jazz because of the improvisational side. It's so free, and being able to express yourself through notes and rhythms is great," he said. "It's really like a stream of consciousness when you're playing."

Today, Mulcahy practices and plays the bass about 15 hours each week. In school, he is involved in the high school orchestra and jazz band, and also sings in the chorus and madrigal choir. In his free time, he takes private classical lessons with Dave Perry and private jazz lessons with Phil Flanagan.

He also plays with the Young Lions of CNY big band jazz ensemble conducted by Joe Columba, as well as the Salt City Jazz Collective. The 16-member big band plays gigs at the Syracuse Suds Factory the first Wednesday of every month.

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