2015 Jazz Educators Network Conference
San Diego- The 6th Annual Jazz Educators Network Conference was scheduled from January 7th-10, 2015. This annual showcase of all things jazz was held at the beautiful Manchester Grand Hyatt, in sunny San Diego. The theme for this year’s conference is “Outreach” Sharing The Gift of Jazz.”
There is something for each and every jazz fan, who attends the conference. There were 77 live performances by professionals, students and community groups, plus 71 educational clinics, 36 research presentations, industry exhibits, networking opportunities, jam sections and much more.
The lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt was bursting with tons of energy with people registering for the conference and picking up their badges. Lots of excitement filled the air as the prospect of the youth having a chance to perform before a global jazz audience as well as the thought of hanging out with some jazz legends, and learning from said artists.
I jump started my attendance at the conference on a vocally, swinging note. The amazing choir Vocalogy set the mood for the conference with their incredible vocals. Vocalogy was a delight to the crowd and I as they enhanced our conference going experience with their fabulous, joyful, harmonious voices on the tunes “Eggplant” made popular by Michael Franks, “All or Nothing at All” made popular by Frank Sinatra. They continued with “I Will Wait for You,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” along with a medley of famous tunes from New Orleans. We made a quick trip to Brazil on the tune “Waters of March” and continued with a low down dirty blues tune “I’ll Never Do You No Harm.” The group was wonderfully aided and abetted by the presence of Jeremy Siskind on piano, Ron Sufferdini on bass and Peter Buck on drums, washboard and other interesting percussions.
The tempo of the conference got upbeat during the thoroughly entertaining set by Cal State Long Beach Concert Jazz Orchestra, directed by Jeff Jarvis, with special guest Bob McChesney and Wayne Bergeron. The Concert Jazz Orchestra is the flagship ensemble at the Bob Cole Conservatory at Cal State Long Beach. The CJO was awarded 2014 winner of the Downbeat Students Music Awards, Graduate College Division. The band came out roaring on the tune “A Firm Grasp of the Obvious” to open their set. For the next 45 minutes the crowd and I were swaying in delight as the band performed the following tunes “Caravan,” followed by the theme song from the Disney movie “Aladdin.” “First Impressions and “Beseme Mucho” featured trumpeter Wayne Bergeron sending an array of notes high up into the stratosphere. Mr. Bergeron entertained the crowd with some hilarious jokes and stories.
Celebrated pianist, composer, arranger John Beasley fronted MONK’estra. As the name implies, he treated an attentive crowd to his inventive arrangements of compositions by Thelonious Monk. The set list consisted of the tunes “Epistrophy,” “Skippy,” “Ask Me Now” (ballad), “Little Rudy Tootie,” and “On the Hudson.” This all-star band featured Justo Almario, Brian Swartz, Brian Lynch, Adam Schroeder, Keith Fiddmont, Bijon Watson and Francisco Torres, just to name a few.
Holly Hofman’s Alto Flute Project concluded the live performance for the opening night of the conference. The group was celebrating a new CD on Capri Records. They welcomed the crowd to the conference with a set of blues, bossa nova, and ballads.
The conference continued full steam ahead on Thursday, January 8 through Saturday, January 10th.
Founded in 2008, The Jazz Education Network (JEN) is the non-profit organization that unifies leads and strengthens the global jazz community. The organization and its annual conference, serves as a hub for people who wish to advance jazz education, promote performances and develop new audiences. Jazz Education Network (JEN) proudly represents a worldwide community of people who are passionate about jazz and jazz education, providing the tools, learning, nurturing and networking environment they need to pursue.