Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Shed Day 2

Our Jazz Camp has been running smoothly, perhaps more smoothly than we expected. I've been asking students if they are enjoying the camp and one student gave us a great compliment. "I just went to the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp, and I feel like I'm learning more here!" That's a pretty bug deal to me, since Jamey Aebersold is considered a God of Jazz Education. And not to dis Aebersold at all, but since this is our first time ever doing this, we are the serious underdog of Jazz Camps. Even among camps in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest! Anyway, the turnout and the success so far has made us start to seriously plan for next year. Who knows what could happen after five or ten years?

Darrell Grant began the proceedings with "The Morning Shed", which served as a session so that students could ask specific questions about our repertoire, and work on specific problem areas. One students wanted to learn "Nica's Dream" more thoroughly. Grant put on the Art Blakey recording; it was unexpectedly enlightening to listen to exactly what was on the recording, and what was missing from the chart. A lot of the chords, which I had gotten from an Aebersold book, were not exactly what was on the recording(still not dissing Aebersold!). I think some of the issue with playing Hard Bop tunes is that composers from that era did more arranging than the Bebop guys, who mostly used head charts and played melodies in unisons and octaves. Oftentimes, Hard Bop tunes have harmony parts, counter-melodies, rhythm hits, and intros and outros that don't end up in the fake book for some reason. Grant's theme for "The Morning Shed" is to really focus on detail and perfection and total understanding, and to figure out how much time it takes to solve problems or master difficulties. It was billed as "optional"(since it's at 9am) but it was surprisingly well attended.

The instructors rotated for the 10-12 combo coaching; I worked with a medium advanced ensemble. We worked on "Footprints" for a good portion of the class. I suggested that we work on finding cells of three notes for each chord and try to treat the notes as a "drumset." By limiting your melodic choices, it forces you to focus on your rhythm, phrasing,space, timbre,etc... Also, we came up with a version of "Corcavado" which threw the typical bossa treatment out the window; instead, we just straight up swung it! This brings into question the issue with standards; if we work on standards, what do we play when it's time to make a recording? We can't expect to record standards in the usual way and that then our listeners will be eager to buy our music, let alone download for free or watch on youtube for free! We have to ask ourselves, "what makes our version of Corcavado or whatever distinctive?" I think it's worth asking in this competitive marketplace.

Master drummer and educator Alan Jones gave the 1pm masterclass. Jones is an extremely intense, thoughtful dude, and his audience was hanging on his every word. Jones talked about relationships, and how we develop relationships to rhythm and other musicians. Charley Grey's clinic was a panel discussion which included myself, Darrell Grant, and David Valdez. We mostly talked about career development, and the idea that you CAN have a life in music, but that you have to define what "success" is for you. Valdez talked about the challenges of booking your own gigs, the "shotgun" approach. "You might send out 50 packages and maybe you will get 2 gigs from that." Grant talked about how you are perceived as a musician and a person, and how that can translate into opportunity. I mentioned how things like showing up on time, being easy to work with, and dressing appropriately are things "you don't have to spend hours or years practicing!" I think the masterclasses have been highlights of the camp; the feedback I've gotten has been very positive.

I'm excited for day 3!Stay tuned........

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