Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Reflections

During this first week of the new school year, I continually hear students and faculty asking one another how their summer was and what they did.  One colleague asked me to list the three highlights of my summer.  I found myself stumbling for an answer --- probably because I’m usually so focused on the present/future.  When I did collect my thoughts, there were some great memories to relate.  Here’s a brief recap:

Kincardine Summer Music Festival:

This was my first summer teaching and performing at the KSMF in Ontario, Canada.  My friend, Toronto-based trombonist Jules Estrin, runs the camp.  Many of the faculty were old school mates from McGill University in Montreal.  It was nice to catch up with them, and they have all become incredible players and effective teachers.  Students came from all over Ontario and there was a nice mix of teens and adults.  The days were well structured with a mix of master classes, small and large ensemble rehearsals, workshops and concerts.  Having the faculty perform each night with a variety of special guests was one of many things that distinguish this camp from many of the others at which I have worked over the years.  There is no substitute for hearing the music played at a high level, and I think it really inspired the students.  Hearing the impressive Jazz.FM91Youth Big Band with trombonist Al Kay (of Rob McConnell/Boss Brass fame) was a highlight for me, as well as accompanying my old friend Denzal Sinclaire.  What a voice!

Bushnell Park Monday Night Jazz Performance:

Two days after getting home from Kincardine I performed with my 10tet, the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble.  It is always a kick to play in front of an audience of 5,000 or so.  I hired my favorite recording engineer, Peter Kontrimas to document the evening and am looking forward to hearing how the recording turned out.  Here is some concert footage of my new composition, “Mirror of the Mind”.  It is my tribute to “Prof”, the late William Fielder (1938-2009), who was the professor of trumpet at Rutgers University back when I did my graduate studies there. 

Josh Evans is the trumpet soloist.  The piece also featured Kris Allen on alto saxophone.

I am currently writing an extensive plan of ensemble activities to submit to the Hartford Jazz Society’s grant writer.  We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the jazz society, in their efforts to promote, preserve and pioneer jazz performance in the Greater Hartford area.

Camp of the Woods:

Although music is a very important part of my life, these days it takes a back seat to my family.  I deliberately planned to spend a significant amount of time with my wife and kids this summer and we had some great times together.  One of the absolute high points was our week at the Camp of the Woods, a Christian resort and conference center in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York.  We slept in a tiny cottage, but most of our time was spent outdoors doing activities like canoeing, hiking, playing on the beach, swimming, mini-golfing, foosball, basketball, and rock climbing.  Every morning they had a reputable Christian speaker for the adults (Tony Evans, from Dallas), with children’s programming for our kids.  It was nice to be able to spend some quality time just with my wife.  We ran a 5K race together, and Jana won her age division! The camp even had an extensive music staff, which included a full studio orchestra (wind ensemble plus rhythm section, strings and vocalists).  Most of the instrumentalists were grad students from conservatories across the US.  Church music is often nothing short of torture for me, so this was a great surprise and very refreshing.  We left spiritually uplifted, inspired and well rested.  I highly recommend this vacation spot and hope to return there for years to come.

So there you have it… three high points, of many, in my summer.