Summer camps can change your life! They certainly did in my case and the passing of Clark Terry this past Saturday Feb 21, 2015 has caused me to reflect very fondly about my jazz camp experiences.
I was fortunate to win a jazz solo award at the Mile High Jazz Festival in Thornton CO when I was a ninth grader at Erie Jr. Sr. High School in 1984. The solo award was fortunately not just a ribbon or trophy, but rather a full-tuition scholarship to the Great Plains Jazz Camp in Emporia, KS. I figure most people have never heard of Emporia and I certainly hadn’t but it turned out to be a great place for jazz…at least that week in June 1984! The legendary Clark Terry was not only the headliner but an integral part of the camp as he was accessible to all the attending students via masterclasses, combos, big bands and the phenomenal nightly faculty big band concerts. I had never been to such a cool event where jazz was the center of the universe for six continual days. Many thanks to my parents for doing everything they could to help find a way to get me there. (with no easy flights or trains to this remote town, they allowed me to ride along with fellow student who also had won a solo award…fun times Scot Muhler! …and then again two yrs later with Brent Smith, another high school band mate and co-founder of TheGigEasy!) I loved every minute of the camp and Mr. Terry had a lot to do with it. His jovial trumpet playing and personality was an important invitation and education to the world of jazz – something everyone there both wanted and appreciated. It saddens me deeply to learn about the passing of this great man, musician and educator. He was such a trooper over the past 10 yrs with all of his health challenges. I last saw him at the 2006 IAJE in 2006 when Clark was awarded the NEA Jazz Masters Award. I vividly remember and enjoyed his opening line after being helped onstage in his wheelchair to receive the award “The golden years suck!” I am grateful to have been able to interact with this jazz master in some capacity because of several of those summer jazz camps. This special photo of me receiving an award from Clark Terry at the camp was given to me just a few months ago from the camp director, educator and Denver-based trumpeter Bob Montgomery. Many thanks to Bob not only for this great memento but also for organizing many of these important camps throughout the 1980-90s in Emporia KS, Edmond OK, Telluride CO and Boulder CO. Some of these later camps were headlined by other suitable jazz great such as James Moody, Rich Matteson and Duffy Jackson.
So I suppose it’s fairly clear here that I am a fan of summer band camps, jazz camps and music education in general. In fact, I’m going to Aspen, CO tomorrow to teach two days of jazz clinics to 6th-12th graders! Nevertheless, I encourage all of you to attend a camp this summer as it a fantastic way to invigorate and inspire you with new information, new friends and new scenery…despite the negative stereotypes (although the”American Pie” series is quite funny!)
This by no means is a complete list. I just happen to know about all of these particular camps and festivals and can vouch for their quality and professionalism. Feel free to Contact Me with other suggestions which I will happily repost. Register now as many of these popular camps fill up fast and/or require deposits or special audition materials to be submitted in advance. June is only three months away!
International Trombone Week – April 12-19 – Globally!
Colorado Trombone Festival – April 25 – Colorado Springs, CO
Michael Dease Jazz Trombone Institute – June 1-13 – Brevard, NC – BRAND NEW!
Colorado Honor Band Association Summer Camp – June 7-11 – Fort Collins, CO – I have to give a shout out to this great organization who has been providing quality camps and extracurricular music opportunities to elementary thru high school students for over 60 yrs! I personally was involved for six years and treasure all the amazing summer camps I attended up in Grand Lake, CO. Thank you Susie Smith!
Summerbonez – June 8-11 – Colorado Springs, CO – I was invited as the Jazz Artist in 2014
Interlochen High School Trombone & Tuba Institute – June 20-26 – Interlochen, MI
Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop – July 5-10 – Louisville, KY
International Trombone Festival – July 8-11 – Valencia, Spain – Beautiful Location I visited in Sept 2014
Eastman Summer Trombone Institute – Aug 2-7 – Rochester, NY
The Joe Alessi Seminar – Aug 4-11 – Eugene, OR