Litchfield Jazz Camp

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The Litchfield Jazz Camp began in 1997. The camp has been featured in Time magazine, on CNN, and in the JazzTimes Education Guide. Litchfield Jazz Camp offers students 13 to adult of varying abilities the opportunity to study with internationally recognized jazz musicians on the campus of the Kent School, a Connecticut boarding school. Students learn in an intensive, noncompetitive environment, in courses ranging from one to five weeks. Students work in skill-matched combos, both at the camp and on the Student Stage at the Litchfield Jazz Festival.


Teaching Assistants give evening concert - Photo Credit: Lindsey Muir

Curriculum[edit]

  • Combo - Upon arrival, and after registration, students are evaluated by faculty. The next morning all student ensembles are posted in the cafeteria. Each ensemble is directed by a faculty member and a teaching assistant or junior faculty member. As many as 15 ensembles of approximately 8-10 musicians each make up the jazz camp. Ensembles meet twice daily, working on jazz repertoire, improvisational concepts, and ensemble playing.
  • Jazz Theory - All students attend theory class each morning. Students are placed in a theory class at their level based on an evaluation taken on registration day.
  • Masterclass - All students attend a master class every day for one hour, working with student musicians who play the same instrument, under the direction of appropriate faculty. During this time they may also watch a film on the history of jazz or faculty may discuss their personal musical experiences with the students.
  • Private Lessons - Students have time over the course of their week to schedule a private lesson with an instructor. Most students take at least one lesson.
  • Composition - This is an interactive, hands-on workshop exploring various non-traditional approaches to composing and arranging. Students connect to methods and techniques forged by notable and established “Downtown” composers/improvisers. This approach to composing and arranging emerged in the mid 80’s into the 90’s and coalesced around a group of players broadly associated with the now legendary downtown Manhattan venue, the Knitting Factory. The style came to be a major influence on much of today’s music scene. The course explores the works of Mario Pavone, Steven Bernstein, Marty Ehrlich, the late Thomas Chapin, and others. Students are encouraged to construct pieces, which will be explored by the workshop ensemble and performed at week's end. Instructors include Mario Pavone, Peter Madsen, Dave Ballou, Jack Walrath, and other guest composers/improvisers.
  • Vocal Program - In addition to the instrumental program, singers work with vocal instructors on repertoire, theory, and leadership. Then they are placed in combos to prepare for the concert at the end of their session as well as for the Litchfield Jazz Festival. Vocal instructors include Karrin Allyson and Vanessa Rubin.
  • Faculty Concerts - A concert featuring the senior faculty is held three times a week, and a concert featuring the teaching assistants is held twice a week. These concerts are free and open to the public.
  • Student Jam Sessions - Nightly student jam sessions occur after the evening concerts.
  • Student Concerts - On each Friday evening (excluding session four, when the concert occurs on Thursday night due to the Litchfield Jazz Festival) all student ensembles perform for family, the camp population, and the general public.

Faculty[edit]

The faculty at Litchfield Jazz Camp are among the finest jazz musicians in the country and the world. They are all touring and recording jazz musicians. The camp’s music director is tenor saxophonist Don Braden. He and resident artists guide students through classes in performance, improvisation, jazz history, rhythm and percussion, music theory, the business of music, composition, and recording engineering. Instruction is offered in voice, piano, guitar, bass, drums, Latin rhythms, saxophones, clarinet, flute, and brass. Evening jam sessions and resident and visiting artist concerts add to the course work. Current and past teaching artists include:

Litchfield Jazz Festival[edit]

All students perform with their combos on a dedicated second stage at the Litchfield Jazz Festival the first weekend of August. Included in their tuition is a three day lawn pass for them to enjoy the music. In addition to playing, students receive instruction from Litchfield Jazz Festival stars. These have included Toots Thielemans, Sonny Rollins, Tom Harrell, Bill Charlap, Kenny Werner, Kenny Rankin, Stanley Turrentine, Paquito D'Rivera, James Moody, Danilo Pérez, and Jane Monheit.

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Coordinates: 41°43′37″N 73°28′56″W / 41.7269°N 73.4821°W / 41.7269; -73.4821