The Latin Side of Jazz Educators Network Conference
San Diego- the 6th Annual Jazz Educators Network Conference ventured west, January 7-10, 2015. This is an annual showcase of all things jazz, which was held at the beautiful Manchester Grand Hyatt, in pleasant, sunny San Diego. I overheard several conversations from the east coast crowd who welcomed the respite from the freezing temperatures back home.
There was something for each and every jazz and Latin Jazz fans in attendance at 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 (descargas) and more. Themed Outreach: Sharing The Gift of Jazz.
Each day of the conference, the lobby of the hotel was abuzz with tons of energy, people registering for the conference, or picking up their badges. Students were overjoyed and excited about the performing in the presence of jazz legends, their peers and leaving their marks on jazz.
There were some outstanding performances and clinics on Latin Jazz and Afro-Cuban music for all to enjoy. These concerts and clinics were very popular, due to the large turnout of eager fans.
The first group consisted of La Onda Carbena, directed by Caleb Chapman. These talented groups of students are from Salt Lake City, Utah. They immediately lit up the conference during their fiery set. They superbly performed “No Me Dejas de Querer,” “Late in the Evening,” “Para Las Rumberos,” “La Banda,” and a smoking version of “Besame Mama.”
Rick Davies & Salsa Nortena upped the tempo and the degrees during their solid, cooking set. The band featured Dr. Rick Davies on trombone, Dr. Bobby Rodriquez on trumpet, Dr. Alex Stewart on tenor sax, Ruben Alvarez on congas, Irving Flores-piano, Mackenzie Leighton-bass and Mike Holguin on drums. The band played a set of original tunes “Compamento de Rumba,” “Salsa Strut,” “Son, Son, Son,” “Calle Loca,” and “Vega Para Ti.”
Daniel Ian Smith and the Latin Side of Billy Strayhorn. As the name states, this group performed a set of compositions of Billy Strayhorn by spicing it up with a Latin twist. These musicians are well respective faculty members at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. They thrilled the audience on the tunes “Daydream,” “Take the A Train,” “Upper Manhattan Medical Group,” “Lush Life,” and “Lotus Flower.”
Carol Saboya is a vocalist from Brazil. She was brilliant during her time in the spotlight, performing compositions by Jobim, Milton Nascimento and her very own father Antonio Adolfo. They performed “Bola se Maia, Bola de gude,” by Milton Nascimento, “Bonita” by Jobim, “Pretty World” by Antonio Adolfo, “All the Things You Are,” “So In Love,” and “A Night in Tunisia” that allowed everyone to stretch out. The band consists of Antonio Adolfo-piano, Jamie Ousley-bass and Evan Hyde-drums.
Caliente, Jose Diaz, director with special guest Jesse J and Ndugu Chancler is a high-energy group who performs traditional Afro-Caribbean music in a fresh updated style. It was amazing to listen to their explosive set and to witness how the group performed with excitement, enthusiasm and high-octane energy like a professional orchestra. Hats off to Downbeat Jazz Education Hall of Famer, director, Jose Antonio Diaz for his memorable performance.
In the true fashion of descarga, the Network Hang/Pro Jam was an all hands on deck, barn burning jam section with a distinct Latin Jazz Focus. Rick Davies & Salsa Nortena served as the house band, with a plethora of special guest sitting in.
Additional performances with an emphasis on Latin music featured The University of Michigan Faculty Latin Jazz Collective with Pepe Espinosa, La Onda Caribena with Poncho Sanchez and Francisco Torres and Sacramento State Latin Jazz Ensemble with John Santos.
The 6th Annual Jazz Education Network Conference was also about learning and nurturing future greats in the music industry. A number of clinics were offered both educators and students. Rhythmic Structure and Phrasing in the Brazilian Samba for Composers and Arrangers presented by Gord Sheard.
Latin Jazz Arranging 1-2-3: Creating Solid Latin Jazz Arrangements in Under Three Hours presented by Michael Phillip Mossman. Carlos Vega research presentation was entitled An Analysis of the Contributions and Influences of North American Jazz Saxophone on the Afro-Cuban Jazz Movement.
Afro-Cuban Jazz and Beyond presented by Ignacio Berroa was like a university level course in Ethnomusicology. This also could be a dissertation presentation for a Ph.D.
Rebeca Mauleon presented a clinic and performance entitled Latin Grooves in the Band Room: Clave Based Repertoire for Young Jazz Musicians. She was aided by the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Combo.
A Conversation with LeJENd of Latin Jazz Poncho Sanchez was moderated by Chris Hart of REMO. This conversation was very interesting as you can imagine. We learn about how and when Poncho Sanchez got started in the music industry, his early mentors, along with other funny stories along the way.
The final two clinics at 2015 JEN consisted of Phrasing in Brazilian Music, presented by Antonio Adolfo and Two Three or not Two Three. That is the Question presented by Ruben Alvarez.
Save the date, January 6-9, 2016 for the Seventh Annual Jazz Educators Network Conference, returning to Louisville, Kentucky. The Jazz Educators Network is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance, and developing new audiences.