Tuesday, January 26, 2010

J@LC BDA & Onwards to Banff

I've been fortunate to have been engaged in a smattering of inspiring jazz experiences lately. Last week I participated in a Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Directors Academy workshop hosted in Calgary. It was a great experience and I was blown away by the enthusiasm and knowledge exhibited by the faculty of great jazz educators & performers that included: Rodney Whitaker (bass), Alvin Atkinson (drums), Dr. Ron Carter (alto saxophone), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Reggie Thomas (piano) and Scott Brown (trombone). These guys can not only really play great but they are able to articulate, to other band directors, the nuances of how to play jazz music and specifically how to swing and how get a high school jazz band to sound like it's playing jazz ! A huge emphasis was placed on the aural tradition of jazz music, the blues and the physical/vocal aspects of learning and expressing jazz music. Lots of great information was shared and it was an inspiring week that culminated with an energetic performance at the Beatniq jazz club located in downtown Calgary.

What struck me most about these wonderful teachers was their genuine humility and the overall inclusionary approach to teaching various concepts and involving an eager group of band directors whom, for the most part, had little or no experience teaching or playing jazz music. This is a great initiative and a great experience for those educators who have little experience in teaching Jazz but genuinely want to make a difference. I also found it a great experience as a player/teacher, such as myself, and I hope this initiative continues in the years to come.

I have a wonderful video clip of drummer Alvin Atkinson performing with bassist Rodney Whitaker from a rhythm section master class, performing the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol composition "Caravan" that I will upload shortly.

Now in the meantime....

I now find myself at the Banff Centre for the Arts for two weeks, participating in the TD Jazz & Creative Residency with a cast of unbelievable jazz artists. This program is in its first year and we are already off to a great start. The focus of the residency is on the creation of new works and there is quite a bit of creative energy floating around these parts.

So far I've spent the past couple of days getting adjusted to the artist-friendly atmosphere and quite looking forward to all this amazing place has to offer. So for, faculty artists Dafnis Prieto (drums) and Peter Apfelbaum (saxophone) have provided quite a lot of inspiration and information to keep me going for quite awhile !

I'll blog as frequently as I can over the coming weeks about my time at the Banff Centre.

Forever onwards...

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