Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival 2011

Eli and Charenee Wade with cast from Jazz Drama Workshop in Moscow, Idaho


What a phenomenal festival this is.  7,000 young people from all over the Northwest descend on Moscow, Idaho where they are embraced by the entire University of Idaho community.  And I mean the whole community from the president to the freshmen and families in neighborhoods.  Students, teachers, jazz fans and curious bystanders are all swept up in the joy and excitement of jazz for the week.  I could not be happier to take part.  Huge thanks to everyone who makes this festival possible and special gratitude to the great leaders of the charge, most especially, Artistic Director, John Clayton and Education Coordinator extraordinaire, Dwina Howey.  What a tremendous treat this festival is.  It makes you feel great about the future and present of our music.  All the school groups play, there are great performances at night-Jimmy Heath, Bill Charlap/Renee Rosnes Duo, Victor Wooten, Manhattan Transfer and then workshops all day long.

I gave concerts in area elementary schools for kids with a sextet of young pros from the area.  They are swinging too.  The first day of workshops had me coaching 2 middle school bands then the first of 2 hands-on workshops based on my Chamber Music Magazine article entitled “Jazz Culture and Swing Rhythm.”  Next, I gave a Free Improvisation Workshop.  The penultimate day I had a one-day rehearsal with a combined middle and high school group to prepare songs and scenes from Nora’s Ark, the jazz musical by myself and Clifford Carlson.  The great teaching artist Charenee Wade co-taught with me for that.  On the final day, we presented a Jazz Drama Workshop for around 60 people and got everyone “jazzifying” 2 poems:  “Jazz Is…” by Clifford Carlson and “The Jazz Aesthetic” by Shireen Dickson.  Creativity was flowing.  We topped everything off by sharing the work of the kids from the day before and presented 3 songs from Nora’s Ark (pictured above).

To top that all off I met and spent time with one of my newest heroes, the composer, singer, conductor Roger Treece.  He blew me away with his performance with Bobby McFerrin’s “Vocabularies” last November at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Roger scored all that MUSIC.  In Idaho we were riffing off each other almost non-stop for about 48-hours.  Thank goodness our friend, jazz singer Rosana Eckert.  Her equipoise and grace struck the perfect balance.


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