41st Summer Jazz Workshop at the Putney School

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PUTNEY >> The Vermont Jazz Center is preparing for its 41st iteration of the summer jazz workshop. The week-long program takes place on the campus of The Putney School in Putney.

This workshop encourages intermediate to professional level students from down the street and around the world; while in Vermont they polish their improvisational and musicianship skills while enjoying a hiatus in a beautiful, bucolic setting.

The workshop began in 1974 when famed Hungarian guitarist, Attila Zoller, formed the Attila Zoller Guitar Clinics. These informal programs were fundamental in the development of young musicians like Peter Bernstein, Helmut Kagerer, and many others who would come to Zoller's rustic home in Newfane and study with him and other masters. The program attained non-profit status in 1989 when Zoller took on a board of directors, registered with the state, and conscripted friends like Joy Wallens-Penford, Howard Brofsky, and Gene Rush to help with the curriculum and organization. To this day, the VJC honors Zoller's immense spirit and attention to quality. Over the years, the Summer Workshop has grown in numerous ways, most notably through increased numbers of students and staff, but also by developing a vocal program under the caring guidance of Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton.

Because the workshop has taken place now for 18 years at the Putney School, a sense of rhythm has been achieved through repetition. The community simultaneously grows outward while getting deeper: returning students visit each summer and nourish friendships, develop their musical skills, and live their dreams. Both students and faculty consider this week in the country the highlight of their year. Pianist Bob Werbel, who has been attending the program for more than a decade, told the VJC last week "It's my favorite week of the year, I wouldn't miss it for anything."

There exists a natural, inter-generational balance where participants of all ages learn from each other, gleaning from both the wisdom of jazz's "old school,"the pedagogical advancements put forth in today's developed system of jazz education and the freedom that is synonymous with the word "jazz." The Vermont Jazz Center's Summer Workshop emphasizes the importance of improvisation and small-group dynamics, encouraging participants to find their own voices using the jazz language. The courses offered include jazz theory, master classes in each instrument, focused listening and faculty led ensembles. The atmosphere is friendly and productive; participants and teachers alike form bonds that last a lifetime.

The Summer Workshop stands as the pinnacle of the VJC's educational year thanks to a phenomenal world-class faculty – teachers who are brilliant players but still have a vested interest in the unique journey brought to the program by each student. Eugene Uman is Artistic Director and Ginger Morawski is the Summer Workshop Administrator. There are dozens of community volunteers who contribute to its smooth operation. This year's program will feature approximately 50 instrumental and 20 vocal students under the tutelage of over a dozen highly regarded musician/teachers. They will meet and enjoy the excellent musical facilities at the Putney School; they will unite into instrumental and vocal ensembles and each day partake in master classes, formal performance groups, and classes in jazz composition and theory. In the evenings — evoking the Zoller spirit — students and faculty will jam until the wee hours of the morning.

The students will offer a performance on the final evening of the workshop; the faculty will deliver their own on Thursday evening. Both concerts will take place at the Michael S. Currier Center at the Putney School. The best indication of a program's success is the ardent support and return of its alumni. Sally Station, who attended the workshop in 2013, is excited about returning this summer. After participating at the 2013 workshop, she returned home to Bogotá and diligently applied the study materials garnered at the VJC. She now performs weekly at avenue near her apartment, playing guitar in a jazz trio, improvising over an expanded repertoire with newly developed confidence. A licensed, bilingual interpreter, Station's reflection about the VJC summer workshop upon leaving was: "Live it, breathe it, eat it,sleep it then get up the next day and do it all again. Total immersion, this is the best way to learn a new language!"

The VJC's summer workshop concerts will be held at the Putney School's Michael S. Currier Center on Thursday evening, Aug. 11. The Vermont Jazz Center Faculty Concert will present vocalists Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton, Rob Freeberg (trumpet), Jeff Galindo (trombone), Scott Mullett, Michael Zsoldos (saxophone), Carolina Calvache, Harvey Diamond, Ray Gallon and Eugene Uman (piano), Marcus McLaurine, George Kaye, David Picchi and Cameron Brown(bass), Franciso Mela, Brian Adler and Claire Arenius, (drums) and Julian Gerstin,percussion.

The ticket price for the faculty concert is $20, $15 for students. Local music students are admitted free of charge.

On Friday, Aug. 12 the VJC Summer Workshop Student Concert will showcase faculty-coached student ensembles with numerous vocalists and several piano trios. This concert will be divided into two sections, the first will start at 3:30 p.m. and the second show will resume after a dinner break at 8 p.m. Singers will be accompanied by a professional jazz trio and the piano trios will be assisted and perform with a faculty bassist. Also performing will be five faculty-coached ensembles, usually comprised of two or three horns, piano, bass and drums.

For the student concert, a $5 donation is suggested. All concerts will take place at The Putney School's Michael S. Currier Center and are accessible to all.

For information regarding this workshop and related concerts, visit vtjazz.org or call 802 254 9088.


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