Aspiring jazz artists from across Canada converged on the University of Manitoba Aug. 14 to 20 for a week of first-class jazz instruction.
Now in its 12th year, the University of Manitoba’s Jazz Camp is unique in terms of offering an intensive summer jazz program.
Warren Otto, the camp’s program administrator, says he’s not aware of anything quite like the U of M’s jazz camp in Canada. That’s partly why the camp attracts students as far away as Alberta, BC and even California.
Otto said the students are looking for, and receive, first-class instruction.
The University of Manitoba Jazz Camp has earned a reputation for uniting students of jazz with some of the genre’s biggest names. This year, students are learning from a roster of top artists including:
Steve Turre, a consistent readers’ favourite in JazzTimes and Downbeat, and a trombonist in the Saturday Night Live band for more than 20 years;
Pianist Luis Perdomo, a native of Caracas, Venezuela and a prominent New York City performer;
Saxophonist Miguel Zenón, a native of Puerto Rico who was named Downbeat’s alto saxophonist of the year in 2004.
Other featured artists include noted drummer Alvin Atkinson, currently artist-in-residence at the University of Manitoba, and Steve Kirby, the director of jazz studies who has turned both the university’s jazz program and the Winnipeg jazz scene upside down since he arrived from New York two years ago.
Instruction at the camp is rounded out by a range of notable local performers and instructors including Janice Finlay, Richard Gillis and many others.
“The students will have access to some great players,” Otto said. “This is it. If you want to hear some fascinating names and work with them for the whole week, this is where you come.”
Jazz camp attracts a range of students, from junior high-school students to advanced university student performers, to jazz teachers. Approximately 150 students attend the camp, and each year it seems to get a little more popular. For the first time this year, camp administrators had to turn down interested students because they simply couldn’t accommodate more drummers or bassists.
Class sizes at the camp are small, generally a 10:1 student-teacher ratio. A typical day might include an ensemble rehearsal, a one-hour master class, guided listening exercises, improvisation instruction, jazz concepts study and a jam session.