Registration for this year’s JazzWorks Jazz Workshop camp at Lac McDonald is well underway, but there’s still time. To those who haven’t been there yet, or those who need their memories refreshed, the jazz camp (Aug. 21-24) is held at CAMMAC in the Laurentians, which is scenic, has comfortable living accommodations, fine rehearsal and performance facilities, good food and a relaxed and supportive vibe. An extra two days are offered, Aug. 19 and 20, for those interested in composing or simply some extended individual practice. Full details are available elsewhere on this site.
To help beat the drum a bit, so to speak, I asked JazzWorks artistic director John Geggie to answer some questions about this year’s camp.
Q. What will be new this year?
A. Not really new but Montreal vocal instructor Sharada Banman will be back after taking a couple of years off after the birth of her little guy. She is energised, keen to get back at it and is full of creative ideas — this will be particularly exciting for the vocal participants. Also, I know that a bunch of faculty have done some interesting recordings during the past year (Rémi Bolduc, Jim Lewis, Nancy Walker, probably Jean Martin and I am not exactly sure who else. For myself, I have done sideman recordings). This means that faculty are coming to camp with new compositions and new ideas they have been working on for their recordings
Q. What's the line-up for this year's Composer's Extension, Aug. 19-20?
Each time, we have been trying to feature different members of the faculty for the Composing and Practising Mentorship Program so that participants can perhaps see a different aspect of someone's teaching approach. This year, I am pleased that Rémi Bolduc will be back on alto sax and he will be joined by Christine Duncan (voice) and Kim Ratcliffe (guitar).
Q. What are some of the continuing elements that are important to you?
One of the interesting things for me is finding out what faculty have been doing over the past year, teaching, touring (I think Kevin Barrett did a gig in Moscow this spring while Julie Michels and Dave Restivo were in Haiti), recording and how they are thinking about music in an evolving fashion. There is a nice continuity and flow wherein our faculty know what this camp is about and are open to giving the fundamentals as well as pushing the envelopes as need be. We are continually trying to refine what we do and remain relevant to the loyal JazzWorks base of returning participants
Q. What can we expect at this year's camp?
From the teaching AND learning point of view, camp every year is a mixture of the basics, the fundamentals which bear repeating and reviews, as well as new ideas and challenging concepts that crop up for both the faculty and the participants. Over the course of the previous year, the members of the faculty have been working on their own projects, concerts and/or collaborations; some have travelled doing concerts, some have recorded, some have updated their skills at university, some have written new pieces and explored new areas. When they come to camp, they are bound to be influenced by those experiences and they are keen to share these ideas with the participants. It is interesting for everyone as the faculty, I think, have a sense of trust for the returning participants and thus there is an ongoing learning process going on.
For the participants, both the new folks as well as the returning veterans, everyone is coming to camp with questions and hopefully a curiosity about something. There is always the place for questions and issues can hopefully always be addressed.
I often find the first faculty meeting on the Thursday afternoon to be a great catching up experience for everyone
Q. How would you describe the evolution of the camp over the past 10 years or so?
What started out with Judy and us four members of Chelsea Bridge was an enthusiastic experiment. I think we were all delighted about the interest and desire for the kind of things we were sharing. Over the years, it has grown and we have attempted to keep pace with demand and interest. It is gratifying to see the improvement of the returning participants and it is always great when new people come to camp and bring a different excited vibe. I am always impressed at the Sunday concert and the journeys people have taken on the long weekend, how far they have come as individuals and as a playing collective.
Q. Can you list some of your memorable camp moments?
Too many — some great faculty concerts, some great new compositions on the part of the participants, some special performances (Gerri Trimble singing The Peacocks is a recent special moment for many of us I think); great hangs with Rob, Jean, Donny, Ted and the rest of the faculty; the camp fire sessions; and, of course, our dearly departed friend and wise soul Floyd Standifer and all of his wise words and hilarious comments.
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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.