As far back as I can remember, JazzWorks has provided a showcase for original compositions. Even in the Christie Lake years there were always one or two at each jazz camp closing concert. Around 2007, those attending camp were given a choice of participating in combos featuring original compositions by the members and the number of originals increased.
There were enough of them to enable an originals concert in 2010, featuring campers and faculty at the National Arts Centre Fourth Stage.
After that, and helped by granting agencies such as the Ontario Arts Council, the originals aspect of JazzWorks picked up speed. Jazz camp in 2012 and 2013 featured an additional two days tacked on at the beginning for aspiring composers. They brought their finished or unfinished pieces, or maybe just an idea, to Lac McDonald and worked on them, both on their own and in collaboration with faculty members.
The learning curve was steep, for most of us. Composing involves creativity, but it also involves practice, trial and error, an attention to theory and just plain hard work, sometimes involving music software. On all levels, the faculty were helpful, sometimes offering an aesthetic judgment, sometimes just a tip about notation, and sometimes just giving a listen. A big kick, on the last afternoon of this pre-camp, was the opportunity to hear their tunes played by the assembled faculty.
In 2012, it was Dave Restivo, Frank Lozano and Jim Lewis, along with John Geggie; last year it was Rémi Bolduc, Nick Fraser, Nancy Walker and Geggie. They could make any composition sound good and the good ones sound great.
One of the many positive effects of this was on the camp: combos formed at camp had a supply of relatively polished originals to perform at the final concert.
Now they are going to be performed again, perhaps with some even newer pieces, at a concert sponsored by JazzWorks on Sunday May 25.
In some ways, the concert, dubbed Originals: New Shoots from Jazz Roots, represents the culmination of the originals process. Held at the Richcraft Theatre in the Shenkman Centre in Orleans, the concert will feature composers, musicians and composer/musicians from the JazzWorks community, in conjunction with Rémi Bolduc, alto sax, Nancy Walker, piano, Nick Fraser, drums, and John Geggie, bass. The faculty members will participate in some of the combos and likely do some playing on their own.
The concert begins at 8 p.m., not only a celebration of the originals concept but a chance to hear some great tunes, with the participation of the amazing faculty members. Details about tickets are available here. You can get them online, or through JazzWorks board members. There will also be some on sale at the Thursday night jam session, May 15.
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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.