[JPL] The Jazz Mentors Program- Great article!!
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Sun Apr 16 13:46:30 EDT 2006
All That Jazz
By: Susan Van Dongen , TIMEOFF
Former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine will come to Montgomery High
School April 29 to lead a full day of classes and workshops and perform in
an all-star concert that evening. Jazz saxophonist, arranger and composer
Gary Anderson has arranged the event with his wife, Joy, a vocalist.
Jazz Mentors brings Peter Erskine, Randy Brecker and others to pass along
their wisdom to the next generation.
Schools have recommended reading lists rosters of books the well-rounded
student should be familiar with.
Montgomery resident and vocalist Joy Anderson thinks youngsters,
especially those interested in music, should also have "listening lists,"
for jazz in particular. She and her husband, Gary, a veteran jazz tenor
saxophonist, arranger and composer, think young musical minds aren't quite
complete unless they know their Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus
and Charlie Parker, as well as contemporary icons such as former Weather
Report drummer Peter Erskine and trumpeter Randy Brecker.
A jazz listening list will be just one small part of the curriculum in
the Jazz Mentors Program, an all-intensive, all-star day of jazz clinics and
workshops at the state-of-the-art Montgomery High School in Skillman April
29. Mr. Anderson will direct the program, which he hopes will be the first
in a continuous series of celebrity-based teaching clinics and concerts.
The "Jazz Mentors" world famous teachers who are flying in from all
directions include Mr. Brecker and Mr. Erskine, along with Gil Goldstein,
a pianist who has worked with Gil Evans, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, a touring
member of Steely Dan and Los Angeles-based studio bassist Dave Carpenter.
Rounding out the roster of musicians is saxophonist Lou "Blue Lou" Marini,
famous for his role in the Blues Brothers movie as well as a member of the
Saturday Night Live band, and Steve Cardenas, guitarist for Norah Jones and
In addition, the clinic will offer a special workshop in recording,
engineering and live sound with multiple Grammy-winner Cynthia Daniels.
Participants will enjoy a full day of classes and workshops with the
celebrity musicians, as well as plenty of food continental breakfast,
boxed lunch and full Italian buffet for dinner.
In the evening the musicians will gather for a rare collaborative
concert, something a jazz fan might only see at an international festival.
"I have one young man who will be interning (at the clinic), a great
drummer, someone we've known since he was in fifth grade," Ms. Anderson
says. "I asked him if he liked Peter Erskine and he said, 'Well, I've heard
of him.' So I said, laughingly, 'You'd better get online and check out Peter
Erskine and Randy Brecker and Lou Marini.' He called me back a few days
later and said, 'Mrs. Anderson, those guys are awesome.' Now he'll not only
have the chance to listen to them, he'll be able to meet them.
"There are a lot of schools and venues and special programs in classical
music for young people," Ms. Anderson continues. "But there aren't a lot of
programs in the contemporary music world or for recording."
For Mr. Anderson, a musician and arranger who has played with the likes
of Mingus, Woody Herman and Chet Baker, then went on to a very successful
career as a composer, many of the musicians coming are old friends, or
top-notch artists he's worked with throughout the years.
"There's nothing like this being done in the area, as far as a clinic or
concert performances," he says. "We're bringing artists together who know
each other very well but haven't necessarily been on the same stage at the
same time. They're such icons in the jazz industry that it's parallel to
bringing Paul McCartney in to sing with Mick Jagger."
"One of the reasons we're able to get this caliber of people is that most
of them have worked with Gary, either doing recording for film and TV or
concerts at Lincoln Center," Ms. Anderson says. Born into a musical family,
her singing experience began at a young age. This led to engagements with
the Glenn Miller Orchestra under the direction of Buddy DeFranco, a period
with the New Christy Minstrels, as well as the title role in the national
touring company of Evita in the early '80s. The pair moved from New York to
Central New Jersey to raise a family.
Since Mr. Anderson also has ties to the Berklee College of Music in
Boston he was a teacher there before his days on the road the clinic
will be incorporating some of the fundamental curriculum and basic
approaches to jazz that Berklee has become famous for.
"We're adapting it to a high school level, as well as a middle school
level, since we've had an incredible response from 11- to 14-year-olds," Mr.
Anderson says. "That's what's exciting to me, how enthusiastic the younger
kids are about jazz. I've been out in the schools and the interest in this
kind of music is greater than I've ever seen it.
"My first experience in the jazz industry, around age 12, was at a clinic
one of the late Stan Kenton's clinics out on the West Coast," he
continues. "That's where I met and became involved with my primary mentor.
What we're bringing together now is reminiscent of one of those clinics, but
it's also unique because we're putting together stars of the jazz industry
to create a world-class clinic. And having the limited enrollment is
allowing us to customize the whole teaching approach."
Ms. Anderson talks about their hopes to do a summer camp program in the
future, perhaps at The College of New Jersey. They are also expanding the
Jazz Mentors Program to Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto. Also on the wish
list a school of jazz and contemporary music in this area. This is all in
addition to more clinics and concerts in this area, maybe as soon as next
Ms. Anderson notes that even the concert is educationally based. There
will be a discussion period before the performance where the musicians will
go around through the audience, to invite the kids who couldn't get into the
program to ask questions. She says it was Mr. Brecker who suggested the
"The Jazz Mentors Program got started partially because our daughter is
about to go off to college," she says, a note of sadness in her voice. "I
thought about an empty nest and said, 'I need kids in my life,' so we
started to talk about teaching and sharing our passion.
"There comes a time in our lives when you have to start giving back," she
continues. "We were both mentored for example, Gary was picked out of a
crowd by John La Porta, one of the (teaching) legends from Berklee. It's
because of this support that Gary's life went down a certain road. The
mentoring process starts at this young age. It's time for us to start
putting our arms around these kids."
The Jazz Mentors Program clinic and concert will be held at Montgomery High
School, 1401 Route 601, Skillman, April 29. The clinic is from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
and includes meals, a custom T-shirt and other amenities and a concert
ticket. Fee: $250. Scholarships are available. The 'All Star Concert' is at
8 p.m. Tickets cost $20, $15, seniors/students; $10 groups of 10 or more.
For information, call (888) 466-0603. Applications for the clinic and
tickets to the concert are on the Web: www.jazzmentors.com
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