San Dieguito River, hitching on trucks, waterless in Borrego, escape from Vietnam, Devil's Peak in Baja, accident in Baja, wild horses of Coyote Canyon
8:30 a.m., June 17
If I were still playing and studying music, I don't think there would be a more intense place to spend a summer week than the 10th Annual UCSD Jazz Camp, which starts on June 25 and concludes on June 29.
Organized by Daniel Atkinson, UCSD's Director of Arts, Humanities and Languages, the camp stands out for me because of the way they have loaded the faculty with an incredible array of master musicians from inside and outside the mainstream.
If you were a pianist, for instance, what could be better than exposure to Mike Wofford, Rick Helzer, Eric Reed, Tamir Hendleman, and former jazz camper Joshua White?
Last year, Atkinson told me, that his goal was to give the students, " a total immersion in jazz."
To that end, each morning begins with a 90 minute class ( split into two levels) in Jazz History/Theory taught by SDSU professor Helzer or UCSD professor David Borgo. Helzer has the unique capacity to wail convincingly in the mainstream context, or explore the avant garde side with people like Vinny Golia. Borgo is similarly versatile. I've seen him sit in with rock-oriented players like former Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally, or play totally free with frequent partner Jeff Kaiser.
After lunch, students are sent to masterclasses conducted by brass men Gilbert Castellanos and Michael Dessen; saxophonists Charles McPherson and Tim Armacost; guitarists Larry Koonse and Peter Sprague; pianists Wofford, Reed, Hendleman, and Helzer; bassists Rob Thorsen, Mark Dresser and Christoph Luty; and drummers Duncan Moore, Gerry Hemingway, and Jeff Hamilton!
Composing and arranging classes are offered by Dresser and Dessen, a thought that sounds like a dream come true to me, or anyone who has heard those two compose and arrange.
Students then go to ensembles directed by Borgo, Castellanos, Dessen, Dresser, Hemingway, flutist Holly Hofmann, McPherson and Thorsen.
There's a 90 minute dinner break--then four fantastic faculty concerts. Monday features Larry Koonse, Holly Hofmann, Mike Wofford and Duncan Moore; Tuesday it's Charles McPherson, Tim Armacost, Eric Reed, Rob Thorsen and Fernando Gomez; Wednesday has Michael Dessen, Mark Dresser, Joshua White and Gerry Hemingway; Thursday features the Jeff Hamilton Trio with Tamir Hendleman and Christoph Luty.
Friday night is the highlight student ensemble concerts which start at 6:30 and continue until 10 p.m.
"The students this year are mostly local, as in the past," says Atkinson." But we do have some coming from as far away as Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Switzerland and Botswana (!)"
The opportunity to study with this many players of global stature can not be overestimated.
Jazz Camp 2012 Faculty:
Gilbert Castellanos- trumpet, Michael Dessen- trombone/composing, Charles McPherson-saxophone, Tim Armacost-saxophone (Tuesday-Thursday), David Borgo-saxophone/theory, Holly Hofmann-flute, Eric Reed-piano, Rick Helzer-piano/theory, Tamir Hendleman-piano (Thursday), Joshua White-piano (Wednesday eve), Larry Koonse - guitar ( Monday, Tuesday), Peter Sprague-guitar (Wednesday-Friday), Mark Dresser-bass, Christoph Luty- bass (Thursday), Rob Thorsen-bass, Gerry Hemingway-drums, Jeff Hamilton-drums (Thursday-Friday), Duncan Moore-drums (Monday), Fernando Gomez-drums (auditions)