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John Clayton Succeeds Bud Shank at Centrum

Grammy-nominated bassist and composer John Clayton (pictured) has been selected to lead jazz programs at Centrum, a nonprofit center for the arts located at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Wash. which was founded in 1973 by the Washington State Arts Commission, the State Parks Commission, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as a statewide center for workshops, residencies, and festivals in the visual, performing and literary arts. Centrum is responsible for the annual jazz festival in Port Townsend, Wash.

Clayton follows saxophonist Bud Shank, who has served as artistic director for Centrum’s jazz programs for the last 20 years.

According to executive director Thatcher Bailey, the move to bring in new creative leadership comes from a desire to implement change throughout the organization. “We are clarifying and building upon what Centrum does best: promoting creative experiences that change lives. To remain creatively vital and financially stable we must be open to and, in fact, seek out new ideas, new voices, and new perspectives. To these ends we are seeking out and contracting with an evolving roster of artists and thinkers to help us conceive, develop, and lead our programming.

As Artistic Director of Jazz Programs, Clayton will lead Centrum’s Jazz Workshop and Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend festival. Clayton has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Whitney Houston and many others. He served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl from 1999-2001. His compositions have been performed by ensembles throughout the US and Europe, including the American Jazz Philharmonic and the Carnegie Hall Big Band. Clayton is the co-leader, along with his saxophone playing brother Jeff, of the Clayton Brothers Quintet. They also co-lead the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra together with drummer Jeff Hamilton.

Clayton is a mentor to a younger generation of jazz musicians. He teaches at the University of Southern California and is the Artistic Director of the Vail Jazz Workshop. Clayton says that education will be a key component of his time at Centrum. “My main interest is in promoting jazz as an art form. The way you do that is through education. Centrum’s programs are national models of how to do this, and I am looking forward to working with artists and staff to educate players and listeners of all ages.”

Originally Published