Maryland Summer Jazz Festival Announces Tenth Year Anniversary Season

Unique Program of Adult Jazz Education in July

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Helen Sung, Pianist
By Liz Fixsen
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Jimmy Haslip, bassist
By Liz Fixsen

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For ten years, the Maryland Summer Jazz camp and concerts have been rocking the rafters at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Rockville in late July. Workshops help adult jazz musicians improve their chops and learn performing skills. Public concerts delight area jazz fans and summer tourists.

At the heart of the program is the jazz camp, held this year from July 23 - 25. Camp begins with a short lecture and demonstration by eight big-league jazz artists. Then the group breaks into workshops, where the teaching artists will coach about 70 students on jazz style, technique, and theory. In combos, grouped by ability level, students focus on group interaction and improvisation. Master classes and electives round out the intensive immersion in jazz.

The workshops challenge and inspire the participants to reach for musical growth. The ultimate aim to move from the classroom to the stage—as a number of Maryland Summer Jazz participants have already done over the last ten years. Former students include critically acclaimed vocalist Lynn Veronneau and rising singer Julie Mack. Instrumentalists such as Elijah Jamal Balbed, Stan Hamrick, and Bob Schwartz are some of the busiest jazzmen in the region.

Headlining this year’s faculty are international performers, pianist Helen Sung and bassist Jimmy Haslip. Sung is a graduate of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute, and her career is soaring. She has performed with luminaries such as Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock. She was winner of the Kennedy Center’s 2007 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition and has five albums to her credit. She teaches at Berklee College of Music and in jazz education programs such as New York City’s JazzReach.

Jimmy Haslip spent 30 years as founding member of the Grammy-award winning Yellowjackets and currently plays, tours, and records, with Grammy nominated Jeff Lorber Fusion. He has performed with a virtual who’s-who of jazz and pop, including Bruce Hornsby, Pat Metheny, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, Al Jarreau, Diana Ross, Donald Fagen, Flora Purim, and many others. As a jazz educator, Haslip authored Jimmy Haslip: Modern Improvisation for Bass Method. He has taught at Los Angeles Music Academy and Musicians Institute in Hollywood, and at clinics and master classes around the world.

Additional faculty members include newcomers Donato Soviero (guitar) and Peter Fraize (saxophone), head of jazz studies at George Washington University. Returning members include highly regarded performers who are also university jazz professors: Kenny Rittenhouse (trumpet), Jim McFalls (trombone) and Marty Morrison (drums). The artistic director is saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk.

Two Canadian-born colleagues, musician Jeff Antoniuk and arts administrator and promoter Paula Phillips founded Maryland Summer Jazz in 2004. They recognized that although there were numerous jazz education programs for youth, there was a need for a program aimed at adults. Antoniuk envisioned giving participants the experience of playing in a jazz band by assembling them in small combos.

As the camp became established and its reputation grew, it began to draw students from North, South and both coasts, all seeking to hone their performance skills. For some, the camp is a means to personal enrichment and greater enjoyment in playing for fun. Other participants are intent on becoming professional performing and recording artists.

Three public concerts will be presented in connection with the camp this season. On Tuesday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m., a Kick-Off Concert at Bethesda Blues and Jazz club will feature bassist Jimmy Haslip with the MARS 4-tet. On July 25, jazz camp participants and faculty perform at the campus – at Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in North Bethesda. Students perform at 7:30 p.m. and faculty at 8:30 p.m. The wind-up concert will be held on Saturday, July 26 at Jazzy’s Restaurant in Bowie with shows at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Each show highlights different performers and music.

Musicians aged 16 through retirement age are welcome to register for the Maryland Summer Jazz day camp through June 30. Early Bird tuition discounts are offered until May 1. Family and military discounts and internships are also available. The deadline for scholarships applications is June 1.

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Community Authors

Liz Fixsen