Litchfield Jazz Camp in Kent, Connecticutt

Eli performs at Litchfield Jazz Camp in Kent, CT

Eli performs at Litchfield Jazz Camp in Kent, CT

I was blown away by Litchfield Jazz Camp in Kent, CT.  The atmosphere was pure learning.  The young people were hungry and joyful.  My colleagues on the faculty were giving it every minute.  What a wonderful exchange.  Playing, teaching, learning, discovering, experiencing, cooperating, uncovering, swinging, playing the blues and believing in the power of our music to uplift, inspire and unite!

Eli Yamin, Dezron Douglas, Don Braden, Winard Harper

Eli Yamin, Dezron Douglas, Don Braden, Winard Harper

What a gas it was to play and teach with these guys.  Don Braden is the director of the Camp.  This man is immersed in the blues and plays, teaches and directs the camp with the same commitment-150% all the time.  Dezron knocked me out with his deep swing and his knowledge of Barry Harris tunes.  Couldn’t believe it.  We WILL be playing some more.  Winard reminds me of the old cats–such fire and swing, yet he’s as youthful as any self respecting teenager on campus.

Eli and Claire Daly

Eli and Claire Daly

Claire’s been telling me how great this camp is for years.  She’s been teaching there for as long as I’ve known her, about 10 years. You are absolutely right, Claire.  So good to be up there with ya’!  Claire also teaches at Middle School Jazz Academy at Jazz at Lincoln Center with me and I’ve played on her 5 CD’s.  She is one supremely soulful sister with a sound on the baritone like a wise old soul you must know so you can remember who you are.  Love you madly, Claire!

Junior Faculty and Deputy Program Director, Albert Rivera

Junior Faculty and Deputy Program Director, Albert Rivera

These young teaching artists knocked me out equally–they fuel the swinging energy of the camp.  I first met Albert 10 years ago when he was at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.  It’s so amazing to witness the explosion of growth in this young man.  What a player and organizer!  Goodness knows in this day and age, we need both skill sets fast and furious.  Hats off to all y’all!  dscn2744

Chapel Swing 6 + 1, Eli’s ensemble

You will be hearing from a bunch of these young talents!  Every day of the week we spent 3 hours in this gorgeous chapel getting to the roots of the music:  swing, blues and spirituals.  We started our first class by singing Wade In the Water.  We explored the doodleahh.  We played the shuffle, second line, samba and swing rhythms.  We practiced making them our own. Listening, really hearing each other.  Playing as one family.  This was the most advanced group I’ve ever worked with and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to see them soar!  Keep going y’all, the sky’s the limit.  You make me know jazz is THRIVING!

Jeff Hirschfield, George Schuller, Winard Harper

Drum Dream Team--Jeff Hirschfield, George Schuller, Winard Harper

Drummer’s gotta eat SOMEtime.

Eli's theory class

Eli's theory class

What a pleasure it was to work with this group every day for 90 minutes.  Thanks to Andrew, my terrific assistant teacher.  You all demostrated how learning can be filled with joyful discovery, experimentation and exaltation.  Remember how much fun you learned this week along with 6 diminished, Barry Harris scales and 7th scale melodies.  Always be rhythmic.  Wherever you are, remember what Ruth Brown said, “Get some joy out of life, or life will take the joy out of you.”

Students composing in the Chapel

Students composing in the Chapel

I live for this, seeing students composing-collaborating-making art with what they have learned.  There could not be a more gorgeous site.  Thanks to all involved, Vita, Don, your entire team.  All the faculty and students.  You made this week absolutely unforgettable.  I will treasure it.  May we all share this great treasure with the world!

Eli playing the blues~!

Eli playing the blues~!

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