Wednesday, July 5, 2017

KRTU's Annual A-JAM Broadcast - This Week!

2017 A-JAM combo at KRTU studios
Set your radio dial to 91.7 FM or tune in online at this Thursday, July 6 at 7 PM and Saturday July 8 at 5 PM for this year's annual broadcast of the A-JAM combo on KRTU's "South Texas Jazz Project." 

Liam Dixon
The combo was led by the 2017 A-JAM honoree, drummer Liam Dixon, a student in the jazz program at Palo Alto College, which is led by trombonist Dr. Armin Marmolejo.

Francis Stromboe
The ensemble featured 2016 A-JAM awardee Francis Stromboe on guitar, Dylan Ilseng on bass, and Liam's drum teacher Joe Caploe on vibes.  The show is produced by KRTU Operations Manager Emilio Alvarez and includes interviews with Liam and the other participants by General Manager JJ Lopez.

Liam Dixon and Joe Caploe were chosen to represent the A-JAM program at this year's international jazz meeting in Siena, Italy, sponsored by the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz). They are set to fly to Italy on Friday, July 7, for an exciting week of intensive jazz performance and study.
Joe Caploe

We wish them the best and are eager to hear about their experience upon their return. Stay tuned! It could be you next year, students...

For more about the program, find A-JAM Jazz Mentorship on Facebook or contact A-JAM Program Director and Professor of Music at Northwest Vista College, Dr. Katchie Cartwright, 210-486-4828.
Siena, Italy, site of the 2017 IASJ Jazz Meeting

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Student and Faculty Chosen to Represent A-JAM at International Jazz Meeting in Siena

Exciting news! This year's International Jazz Meeting, presented by the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) will be held in beautiful Siena, Italy from July 8-15, 2017. This is the "jewel in the crown" of the A-JAM program; the moment when our students and world-class adjunct faculty gain access to the incredible global field of jazz performance and education.

More exciting than that is that our student, Palo Alto College drummer Liam Dixon, and his applied teacher, Adjunct Instructor and drummer Joe Caploe, have been chosen to represent the Alamo Colleges at this prestigious annual event.

Please join us in congratulating Liam and Joe, and stay tuned for upcoming local events prior to the International Jazz Meeting. Read more about this fantastic meeting here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Berklee College of Music Holds Regional Auditions at Northwest Vista!

Berklee College of Music holds its regional auditions at Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College every year. This year's auditions are Friday, February 17, 2017. More information is here:

Audition and Interview

Berklee's unique audition and interview experience is an integral part of how we select our entering class. We design it to help you show your strengths and to help us assess your talent and potential to succeed in our dynamic environment. It's a required part of the admissions review, and allows us to consider you for scholarships.
  • Although there is a general format for the audition and interview, each experience is unique—just like you.
  • We strongly encourage you to visit Berklee's campus in Boston to participate in the audition and interview; tour our facilities; and meet with faculty, students, and staff.
If you'd like to get better prepared for applying or going to Berklee, enroll in a free online course.

Your Audition

The audition will be approximately 15 minutes long and may consist of the following parts:
  • a prepared piece of your choice;
  • an improvisation over a harmonic vamp, simple-form blues, or standard tune;
  • a reading selection; and/or
  • melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ear training exercises.
At the discretion of each audition team, a jam with the faculty and/or technical exercises might be part of your audition. Please refer to the audition checklist for further details about each component of the audition.
We recognize that it is common for applicants to have imbalances in their playing abilities, and we realize that applicants may not have advanced skills in improvisation, reading, or ear training. In fact, this is exactly why you might apply to attend Berklee: to develop your skills in these and other areas. Because we take a holistic approach in our evaluation process, each component of the audition helps the audition team assess your overall abilities as a musician and your potential for success at the college level.

Practice Exercises


For a detailed description of the audition components, click on the instrumental department links below:
  • Bass
    Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass
  • Brass
    Baritone Horn, Bass Trombone, French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba
  • Guitar
  • Percussion
    Drum Set, Hand Percussion, Marimba, Orchestral Percussion, Vibraphone
  • Piano
  • Strings
    Banjo, Cello, Harp, Mandolin, Viola, Violin
  • Voice
  • Woodwinds
    Bassoon, Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Saxophone

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 A-JAM Fellow Announced

The A-JAM program is pleased to announce the 2016/2017 A-JAM student fellow. The judges noted that each year the bar becomes higher, as new and returning students come into the audition with increasingly honed skills and experiences. Congrats to all participants. Onward and upward! This year's A-JAM awardee is drummer Liam Dixon from Palo Alto College. His applied music instructor is Joe Caploe. Below is his bio and a personal statement about why he became interested in A-JAM. Please join us in wishing Liam the best! Stay tuned for more about his activities...
Liam Dixon

"My name is Liam Dixon. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona but have lived in San Antonio the majority of my life. Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. My mother was always very musically talented, she played the Violin and the Viola as a child for bands in Mexico and later played Guitar in our church choir. She was also a very gifted singer. I must have gotten the musical talent from her. I first began playing the drums at 10 years old, I remember being completely obsessed with any and all things drumming. When I first started out I would experiment and try to mimic what I would see and hear from songs or videos. Whenever I had trouble with an idea or wanted to learn more, I would go onto YouTube to see videos or use any books or instructional DVDs I had. 

Joe Caploe
I never had any formal lessons on how to read music or play specific styles of drumming and percussion until I reached high school, where I decided to do band from there on out. While in high school I wanted to do anything where I can showcase the skills I had achieved through my years of drumming before, so I decided to join the jazz band. I felt very much drawn to jazz because the concept of jazz was very unstructured and leaned more towards freedom of expression. Joining the jazz band in high school completely opened up a world of possibilities and ideas for drumming and music that I would have never imagined had I not joined. So much so, that in my sophomore through senior year of high school I made the top chairs at region jazz and in my junior and senior year I made the TMEA All-State Jazz ensembles. All of these experiences made Jazz and music in general, grow into a passion.

I would like to do the A-JAM program because it would give me another opportunity to grow as a musician, while also giving me the chance to meet and play with people from around the world who share a common passion for jazz that I do."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A-JAM at International Jazz Meeting 2016 - A Student's Perspectives

Wondering what it feels like to participate in the international jazz meeting that's linked to the A-JAM program? Here's a perspective from San Antonio College student Francis Stromboe, who went to the Berklee Global Institute in Boston for the 2016 meeting...

"My experience with the A-JAM program and being a part of the International Associations of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) meeting, held at Berklee in Boston, MA, was like nothing I’ve ever thought possible for myself. With the mentorship of the A-JAM faculty I was able to excel beyond the musical plateau that I found myself at. 

During my time at Berklee I met many great students and musicians from all over the world. It was noticeable the level of musicianship there was extremely high from the first note of the auditions held the second day my arrival. It was an amazing experience collaborating with the group I was paired with after the audition process. 

It was great to see how music translates so well no matter what language you speak or where you come from. The jam sessions held at various places in Boston gave me all the motivation I needed to get out of my comfort zone and just get up and play.

 The lectures and master classes involved with the meeting were of extremely high value and packed full of great information. I was introduced to many jazz artists new to me and also new concepts of practicing, playing and analyzing music. Being a part of A-JAM and IASJ was a once in a life time experience that I’ll never forget. I made friends with fellow musicians from all around the world. 

Our group, along with several other groups, played a concert together in the Boston Conservatory and recorded in the new state of the art recording studio at Berklee. 

I advise every jazz musician at the Alamo Colleges to audition for the A-JAM program because it opens up so many great opportunities and will push you to new limits and beyond."

Next year it could be you! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 International Jazz Meeting in Boston, Field Notes

This just in from saxophonist and teacher Morgan King, who accompanied A-JAM awardee, guitarist and San Antonio College student Francis Stromboe, to the 2016 Jazz Meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ)...
IASJ Jazz Meeting, Boston 2016, participants
"We landed at Boston’s Logan airport and found the shuttle to the subway’s blue line. The blue line goes to Government Center. At Government Center we switched to the green line and took a train to the Auditorium stop. This stop is across Boylston Street from Berklee College of Music, the host of the IASJ conference. For me this was familiar territory but for our student, Francis Stromboe, it was a new experience.

The first business, after checking in, was registration and a welcome reception at the 1140 Boylston building. The lobby was full of students and teachers from the U.S., Europe, and South America. I knew no one, but David Liebman recognized me, and introduced my wife Joan and me to his wife and daughter. This was the perfect way to “break the ice”. That evening Liebman would perform an opening concert with, Kenny Werner, John Lockwood, and Bob Guillotti.

The opening concert was performed in the auditorium of the newly acquired Boston Conservatory. This acquisition makes Berklee the largest music school in the world. After a brief introduction Liebman announced that the group would “take off” and “may or may not land”. This was a facetious way of informing the audience that the performance would be Free Jazz. Indeed, they performed for over an hour with no breaks or pauses. However, the flow and communication provided a gratifying ad hoc structure. The encore was a paraphrasing of the thematic material from Wayne Shorter’s Footprints.

The first full day began, as each subsequent day, with a general meeting. This was followed by student auditions. The results were used to assign students to ensembles. Teachers were assigned to faculty ensembles as well. We then began our respective rehearsals. Student ensembles were team taught. My teaching partner was pianist Chris Wiesendanger from the Musik Hochschule in Lucerne Switzerland. Interestingly, we have much in common, such as an interest in baseball. In the rehearsals we complimented each other perfectly. The selections were all original student compositions. We used basic lead sheets and worked collectively to construct arrangements; the goal being a recording session and a final concert. That evening the faculty ensembles performed. I performed with musicians from the Sibelius Academy, Musik Hochshule in Mannheim Germany, UMass Amherst, and Argentina.
Francis Stromboe in foreground. Photo by Joan Carroll.
Each morning there was a seminar that followed the group meeting. Two notable topics were “Effortless Mastery” by Kenny Werner, we brought our books so he could sign them, and a panel discussion about jazz in Boston featuring the writer Bob Blumenthal. Bob talked about some of the venues and events that occurred during the 1970’s that I happen to remember (I was there!). After the seminar we met for our respective workshops. The saxophone workshop was led by Dave Liebman. The first clinic I ever attended, by a major artist, was given by Liebman at Berklee in 1974. The concepts he covered then are the concepts I still use and teach today. The workshops, topics, and fundamentals shared with the students each day were a kind of completing the circle for me. The rest of each day was spent rehearsing with the students and a jam session in the evening. The schedule didn’t allow for any sight seeing much less a trip to Fenway for a Red Sox game. Being at Berklee with great players, teachers, and students from around the world was tremendously rewarding and seemed like old times."

Next year in Italy...

A-JAM Auditions Coming Up! Monday, November 21, 2016

Mark your calendar! Auditions for the 2016/2017 A-JAM mentorship program will be held the Monday of Thanksgiving week, November 21, 2016 from 5-7 PM in Rehearsal Hall 152 of the Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College

Auditions are by appointment only, so contact us to schedule yours today. For the audition, prepare two contrasting jazz pieces of your choice. Bring three copies of your written music. You will also be asked to play major/minor scales and do some sight-reading.

Judges include two of San Antonio's finest jazz musicians, Rene Saenz and Richard Oppenheim

Check into the A-JAM Facebook page for up-to-the-minute news and tips.

Contact program director Dr. Katchie Cartwright at 210-486-4828 to schedule your appointment and answer any questions you may have.