Iona Secondary School student Isaiah Gibbons has been banging on drums for most of his 14 years. Observing the young man’s musical talent at the tender age of two when he used his pots and pans for drums, Gibbons grandfather ordered his son to buy a drum-kit for the boy.
“Playing the instrument is really fun,” said Gibbons, who was presented with an Archie Alleyne scholarship last week at the Asylum Artists studio. “It’s something that I am really passionate about and I just love doing.”
Currently in his fourth year at the Community Young Jazz Ensemble Program at Humber College Community Music Program under Dave Neil, Gibbons has also been studying percussion privately over the last six years at Merriam School of Music in Oakville.
“I have been watching this young man over the years and he has been rapidly improving,” said Alleyne, who’s considered one of Canada’s best jazz drummers. “He plays extremely well and I am proud to be presenting him with this scholarship.”
As a 70th birthday gift to Alleyne in 2003, close friends Howard Matthews and Paget Warner started the scholarship and bursary program. A total of 15 students have benefited from the initiative administered by the Brandon Street Community Development Foundation.
“I believe it is necessary that young people get the financial assistance they need to pursue post-secondary education and also hone their musical expertise,” said Alleyne, a self-taught musician and former co-owner of the Underground Railroad restaurant. “I want them to take their education and music seriously.”
Asylum Artists hosted the scholarship award ceremony and Archie Alleyne Evolution of Jazz Ensemble performed after the presentation.
“Prior to this year, I have been throwing a party every year for my clients,” said Asylum Artists president Don Dixon. “People come by and they have a drink, but at the end of the day I realized we were not doing anything meaningful. I thought it would be better if I could find somebody I could help instead of just buying drinks for my clients and friends.”
When Dixon proposed the idea to Jaymz Bee of JAZZ.FM91, he suggested Alleyne would be the perfect fit.
Dixon agreed and earlier this year his students created a new website, www.aasf.ca., for Alleyne.