Jazz at Chautauqua may be celebrating its 15th year, but the annual festival still has new and exciting opportunities for jazz enthusiasts.
According Jason Toczydlowski, director of marketing and guest services for the Athenaeum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution, the Athenaeum will host the first-ever Traditional Jazz Workshop as a kick-off for the Jazz at Chautauqua event scheduled for Sept. 20 through 23.
The four-day workshop session will include: ensemble workshops, coaching, jam sessions and performance opportunities. The master classes are open to the public and will run Sept. 16 through 20. Only musicians with intermediate proficiency on an instrument should attend the workshops, as they are performance and private lesson based.
Famous jazz vocalist and 2012 workshop instructor and performer, Rebecca Kilgore in the foreground and Jazz at Chautauqua musical director, Dan Barrett in the background.
Photo by Mark L. Anderson
"When people think of coming to music festivals they think of it as an enjoyable experience to listen to music, but there are also jazz enthusiasts who come to not only listen but to also create, critique or learn a thing or two from the professionals," said Toczydlowski. "It's an instructional type of experience that includes some jam sessions and social opportunities with the musicians."
The workshop and jazz party will feature several talented musicians such as trombonist Dan Barrett as music director. The workshop faculty members include: vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, pianist Rossano Sportiello, reeds player Scott Robinson, trumpeter Duke Heitger, guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Kerry Lewis and drummer Ricki Malichi.
Barrett has an extensive jazz background, having recorded with jazz greats such as Buck Clayton and Benny Goodman. He has played at Carnegie Hall four times over his career, twice as part of tributes to Louis Armstrong.
Kilgore is one of America's leading song stylists. In 2010, she was inducted to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and to the Jazz Society of Oregon's Hall of Fame. She has performed at Carnegie Hall with Michael Feinstein and has been invited to perform at New York's Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention both at Town Hall and the Lincoln Center.
Award-winning jazz pianist Rossano Sportiello received the Ascona Jazz Award in 2009 in recognition of his expertise and mastery of jazz piano. He has performed at numerous venues such as the Ascona Music Festival in Switzerland, the 92nd Street Y, Town Hall and the United Nations in New York City.
Following the workshop, guests can enjoy the jazz party. Formerly presented by the Allegheny Jazz Society, Jazz at Chautauqua will continue the tradition now produced by the Athenaeum Hotel under the sponsorship of Chautauqua Institution.
From Sept. 20 to 23, traditional jazz musicians from all over the United States will play more than 24 hours of jazz standards and music from the American Songbook. Guests will dine in style while jazz musicians and classic jazz bands such as the Faux Frenchman play music sets.
"The Faux Frenchmen will bring another form of traditional jazz," said Nancy Griffiths, Jazz at Chautauqua program director. "Most of the program focuses on composers from the teens, '20s and '30s, but the Faux Frenchman will bring the Paris-hot club Django inspired jazz, which is not something we've done a lot with. They put a really fun modern twist on that type of instrumentation. So, we're really happy to have them here."
According to Griffiths, one of the things that makes the party unique is that she books about 35 individual musicians that throughout the weekend she organizes into sets and ensembles to let them jam.
"It's very attractive to the musicians to be able to play with people they don't often get to perform with, but who they clearly respect," she said. "The musicians are all wonderful, dynamic, exciting performers who are incredibly versatile and entertaining. It is wonderful to have so many different styles of playing and personalities who can also blend together so well in any ensemble form."
Those who decide to attend the jazz party do not necessarily have to also attend the workshop. Jazz at Chautauqua is an event that caters to both musicians and audience patrons alike, however, those interested in the workshop are required to be musicians, Griffiths said.
"This is one of the last remaining true jazz parties left in the country," she continued. "It is one of the few opportunities left to interact with a large group of musicians of this caliber."
While attending the workshop or the Jazz Party, guests will have the opportunity to stay at the Athenaeum Hotel. The hotel sits on a tree-shaded hill overlooking Chautauqua Lake on the grounds of the world-renowned Chautauqua Institution. Now listed on the National Historic Register, the hotel has been serving guests in style since 1881.
Registration for the jazz workshop starts at $525 per person. It includes meals and lodging at the Athenaeum. Tickets for the Jazz Party weekend are $310 per person. For more specific ticketing information, such as Athenaeum reservation prices, visit JazzatCHQ.com/tickets.php. To reserve space at the Traditional Jazz Workshop or Jazz Party, call 1-800-821-1881. For more information call 357-4444, or visit Athenaeum-Hotel.com and JazzatCHQ.com.