In case you hadn’t start to think of summer yet — and how could you not! — along comes Downbeat magazine and its International Jazz Camp guide.
Feeling warmer already, aren’t you?
You can find a nice ad for JazzWorks and its Aug. 21-24 camp on page 106 and a listing on the same page. JazzWorks is one of 38 camps featured in Downbeat’s pages, but one of only eight mentioned in a feature article entitled “Not Just for Kids,” which focuses on jazz camps for adults.
Ottawa writer James Hale cites a California educator named Jim Nadel on working with adult musicians. One of the best things, he says, “is that experiences flow in both directions. He says that many of his faculty members … leave as inspired as their students by the experience …”
From conversations with JazzWorks faculty, I think that most of them would share that view about their days and nights at CAMMAC.
The case for jazz camp is made in the lead of an earlier article, entitled “Why Go to Jazz Camp?” It says: “Summer jazz camps offer musicians an enriching — and sometimes intense — choice for improving their skills and forming bonds with colleagues.”
And I like a quote in the same article from saxophonist, educator and former JazzWorks faculty member Don Braden who is speaking about another camp but could be speaking about his experience at JazzWorks a few summers ago:
“The culture of the camp is to help each other out. It’s not about competition. We’re all on the same team. If someone is having trouble with changes, you help them. That’s the nature of the camp: that mindset of supporting each other.”
To which I can only add that (a) Downbeat is available at more discerning newsstands in the city, as well as online, and (b) the opening of registration for the 2014JazzWorks camp is not that far away.
JazzWorks faculty get around. In late January, pianist Dave Restivo, vocalist Julie Michels and saxophonist Don Braden (guest faculty member in 2010) were in Haiti, opening the eighth annual Haiti International Jazz Festival.
Also in attendance was JazzWorks president Judy Humenick, who was acting as producer/manager for the Braden/Michels Project. The group’s appearance was co-ordinated by the Canadian Embassy, which also helped locate a local drummer and bassist for the group.
After the usual (in jazz) one-hour introduction and rehearsal, the group opened the festival like this. Not surprisingly, given the great solos by all, the crowd loved it.
Braden/Michels did two evening shows with audiences ranging from close to around 700 to around 3,000. There was also a workshop with 100 people in attendance and jam sessions each of the four nights of the festival.
In his account of the trip, Dave confessed to being apprehensive about the trip, given all that he had read about conditions there. “Well, the rubble is real,” he writes, “and so is the poverty. But so is the warmth, generosity, humour, joie de vivre, and dignity of a proud and resilient people.”
Dave says he will remember the enthusiasm and groove brought to the group by its guest Haitian rhythm section, the “amazing” concerts and jamming with Don and excited young local musicians.
Says Judy: “The Canadian Embassy staff and Festival people were wonderful, the events were extremely well organized and they loved the band.”
The other night I was at GigSpace listening to Brian Browne, performing as part of GigSpace’s Still Swingin’ series. Brian, in his 77th year, played with his customary swing and swagger, and his two trio-mates, bassist Sol Gunner and drummer Glenn Robb, kept up too, although they are of similar vintage. In fact, they were part of Brian’s original trio when he played around Ottawa and Hull in the Fifties.
The Still Swingin’ series has featured other Ottawa musicians in the past is, including another great pianist, J-P Allain, and the series will continue. It is, as GigSpace’s website puts it, “created with the intent of preserving our jazz history.” That’s a laudatory aim and don’t let the description fool you. The musicians featured are not museum pieces.
As someone who is only slightly less old, I’m always interested in how veteran musicians keep up, stay fresh, keep bringing new ideas into their playing. Because if they don’t, they do become museum pieces.
Listening to Brian play Besame Mucho (a tune he admitted he sneered at as a young man), it was easy to hear that he has kept his ears open. The dark, minor chords of the tune brought out some voicings that were as modern as anything you’ll hear anyone else play.
When I listen to young musicians, I’m interested in how they develop their musical vocabulary, how they learn the language, how they absorb and expand on the players who came before. Too bad some of them weren’t among the sold-out crowd at GigSpace.
But we will get a chance to hear some young folks at the upcoming Sunday jam session at the Carleton Tavern. Beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, you will hear a combo from Nepean High School, working with teacher J-F Fauteux, called The One L’s Jazz Combo:
Ethan Hardy, alto saxophone
Ben King, trumpet
Avery Vine, piano
Keagan Eskritt, drums
Robert Wannell, guitar
Joshua Yazbeck, bass
Hey, it’s music for all ages.
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About this blog
Tune Up won't be a calendar of events — Ottawa Jazz Happenings takes care of that. But it will discuss events and issues of interest to the JazzWorks community. Journalist, author, trumpet player and a jazz camper since 1999, Charley Gordon is a former vice-president of JazzWorks.