Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

July/August 2016: Greg Lowe

Jazz Camp: Welcoming a New Generation

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The Summer Jazz Camp at the University of Manitoba is right around the corner, and this year we’re extra keen because the whole crew will be consolidated in Taché Hall, the brand new Desautels Faculty of Music building. The space is great, with easily accessible rehearsal and performances spaces. (Gone are the days when we need to rope in a bunch of volunteer guides to get our young musicians to meeting rooms in buildings all over the campus!) For those who haven’t seen it yet, we’re excited to share our new digs!

Jazz Camp runs from August 14 to 20 this year, and over that six-day span, participants get a lot of different experiences. They have instrument classes to refine their technique and soak up the advice of an expert. They work in small ensembles, forging musical friendships. The masterclasses open doors into bigger musical ideas and strategies, and daily jam sessions help even the most timid players take center stage for a few minutes. By the end of the week, all the small ensembles are ready to share their work with appreciative audiences. It’s amazing how many musical miles get covered in a single week!

One of our experiments this year is a pumped-up final day: all of our student ensembles will perform for appreciative peers and parents, and this year the faculty performances will be folded into the mix. We’re planning for excellent weather so we can enjoy the music out on the front lawn at Taché Hall—whether you have a performer in the mix or not, bring your lawn chair down and settle in for some great music. (If the weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll gather in the performance space by the Music Library.)

The Jazz Camp is open to student musicians from junior high through university, but we’re also happy every year to fold in adult musicians, whether they’re brushing up on skills or determined to tackle one of the things on their bucket list. Everybody works hard, but it’s a ton of fun too—many lasting friendships get started when people put their creative energies toward a common goal. Our faculty is razor-sharp, and all accomplished at drawing out the shy players while challenging the keeners.

Jazz Camp connects with the deep roots of the art form: the tradition of jazz is nased on a willingness to pass along information about the art of improvisation, performance, cooperation, and collaboration. These qualities are critical to every kind of music, so musicians from all backgrounds can definitely benefit from joining us for the week.

More to the point, Jazz Camp becomes an incubator for the growing community of jazz musicians and appreciators in this city. The reviews from participants are off the charts, so they’re enjoying themselves—but they’re also learning, and that’s a big part of the pleasure we feel as instructors. We see kids (and adults) come back year after year, and we watch them grow and develop. They come up through our ranks and take their place in our community, stepping in to host The Hang, starting their own jam sessions, taking on leadership roles in Jazz on Wheels and the Big dig! Band, leading ensembles at Jazz Camp, and sharing music of every flavour on stages around the city and across the country.

This August, we’ll continue that long-standing jazz tradition of sharing knowledge and technique and joy and beauty. We look forward to meeting the new arrivals!

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