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.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A-JAM Group Records at KRTU Studios

San Antonio College student guitarist Francis Stromboe, A-JAM's 2016 honoree and mentorship program apprentice, leads his student combo in a recording date at KRTU studios on the campus of Trinity University on Friday, June 3, 2016. The group will perform a selection of jazz standards, and then be interviewed by station manager JJ Lopez for later broadcast on the station's South Texas Jazz Project show.
The combo includes Michael Segura on drums from St. Mary's University, Ignacio Salazar on bass from San Antonio College, Hugo Funes on trumpet from UTSA, and Fernando Munoz Jr. on sax, also from UTSA.

Sitting in on the ensemble as colleagues and peer mentors will be A-JAM alumni Odie Wallace (drums, bass) and Thomas Mullins (trombone, guitar). Odie Wallace went to Denmark as part of the A-JAM program, and Thomas participated in the international meeting in Lisbon in 2015.
Saxophonist and Alamo Colleges instructor Morgan King will be coaching the group this year, and will be accompanying Francis Stromboe to the annual jazz intensive sponsored by the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), to be held in Boston later this month, hosted by the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.

Many thanks to all who have supported the program this year, including the Alamo  Colleges office of International Programs, the music department of St Mary's University, Northwest Vista College department of Fine and Performing Arts & Kinesiology, and Trinity University's KRTU Jazz 91.7 FM. Stay tuned for air dates...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A-JAM to Participate in IASJ World Jazz Meeting 2016

We've just received word from the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz) that our 2016 A-JAM honors student, guitarist Francis Stromboe (San Antonio College), and faculty mentor, saxophonist Morgan King, have been selected to participate in the 2016 IASJ world jazz meeting, to be held this year at Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston from June 26 through July 1, 2016. One week of intensive performing, rehearsing, and learning with top jazz students and faculty from all over the world. Congratulations to all!

To learn more about the IASJ, watch this inspiring video from Irish bassist-composer Ronan Guilfoyle, founding IASJ member and head of the Jazz Degree program at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin.  For the story of the International Association of Schools of Jazz, check out Artistic Director and NEA Jazz Master David Liebman's site.
 And speaking of Berklee, annual regional auditions are held at Northwest Vista College's Palmetto Center for the Arts on February 19. Go to for more information.