Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"An Inspiring Experience" - International Jazz Meeting in Estonia

"I kept having to pinch myself...": Marco Salinas' Road to Estonia

My journey to Viljandi, Estonia for the A-JAM program has been a bag of good emotions. It certainly has pushed my level of playing drums. I first heard about A-JAM from my friend Francis Stromboe, who himself was a participant in this organization a couple years ago. He gave me a synopsis of the program. So, through Alamo Colleges you can audition through a program called A-JAM (Alamo Jazz All-Stars Mentorship), directed by Katchie Cartwright from Northwest Vista College, and the number one audition is then nominated to be selected for the IASJ (International Association Schools of Jazz) meeting

Once selected, there is a commitment to prepare and be prepared for different musical situations. I was very fortunate to have Joe Caploe, my drum instructor, to guide me along the way. 

A-JAM "creates opportunities for San Antonio students to succeed both locally and internationally in the intercultural collaborative field of jazz." Locally you participate in jam sessions around town, and play specialty events. Also, this past June I got the opportunity to record at KRTU Jazz 91.7 FM for the annual A-JAM performance in the studios at Trinity University. I had the privilege to be interviewed by J.J. Lopez, station manager there. 

The grand prize of the program is attending the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) meeting. Every year it is held at a different location around the world. This year the meeting was held in Viljandi, Estonia. The experience I had that week (July 2-7), was life changing! The meeting was hosted by Inaki Sandoval, Director and Headmaster, at the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. 

During the week we would meet to have special guest speakers discuss areas of jazz, for example, such topics as "Brazilian Jazz in Modern Large Jazz Ensembles" or "Influences of Impressionism in Jazz Harmony." 

Every day we would have rehearsals with our combo ensembles to prepare for our concert at the end of the week. Every night there would be a jam session, where students and teachers get together and jam to jazz standards. 

The music created that week was incredible! I kept having to pinch myself, to make sure I was not dreaming. I couldn't believe I was performing with people from all over the world. I had the privilege to perform with students at the concert from Sweden, Latvia, Greece, Germany, Netherlands, and Argentina! I also met other students from other countries, such as France and Portugal. These students were representing some of the finest schools in the world, like the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Paris Conservatory just to name a few. It was an amazing week of jazz music. Met some great people which I know will turn into lifelong friendships. 

I have to thank Jeff "Siege" Siegel, from New York, and Joana Bettencourt, from Portugal, for guiding us during rehearsals. Thank you guys for your advice and encouraging us. Also, thanks to Nick Smart, artistic director, and Wouter Turkenburg, executive director, for running the IASJ in Viljandi. I can't forget about the ladies! Thank you Tuulike Kivestu, head organizer of the IASJ meeting, and her lovely assistants Kristi Oolo, Mari-Liis Pulder, and Liina Junolaine.  This experience was life changing. Jazz is in good hands!

"A very important program": Notes from A-JAM faculty representative Joe Caploe

As a representative of the A-JAM Jazz Mentorship Program I took Marco Salinas, a student at San Antonio College, to the 2018 International Schools of Jazz (IASJ) meeting in Viljandi, Estonia. The conference features six student combos comprised of talented jazz students and a faculty of jazz artists and educators from around the world. Marco had the opportunity to play in one of the combos on drums. 

I coached one of the combos and it was an inspiring experience helping to get the students ready for the Friday evening concert. All the combos played primarily original music they had composed before arriving at the conference. Although Marco was thrown into the most challenging musical situation he has ever been in he did very well and had a great attitude about the experience. He stayed late and practiced every night and really pulled it together for the concert. 

One great aspect of the A-JAM program is that, whichever student is selected to participate, it is a life changing experience where the student can really see where their contemporaries are at and in turn where they are at. The IASJ Conference serves as a catalyst for musical growth and is therefore a very important program. One a personal note it was inspiring to know that jazz music is in good hands with these talented students. Not to mention the special camaraderie and friendship that is formed during the week of the conference. 

It was an honor to serve as the representative of the A-JAM program and help my student Marco to gain a life changing musical experience that he will use to propel his music career. I'd like to thank Katchie Cartwright for leading the A-JAM jazz mentorship program and Alamo Colleges for the opportunity to participate in this prestigious conference.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

SAVE THE DATE! A-JAM Auditions, Mon & Tues of Thanksgiving Week, November 19 & 20, 2018

AUDITION to become part of this year's A-JAM program! Make your appointment today. Auditions are the Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. That's Nov 19-20, 2018. Contact Program Director Dr. Katchie Cartwright at 210-486-4828 for more information and to schedule your audition. Check our Facebook page and the Palmetto Arts calendar for breaking news...
Liam Dixon with students and faculty in Siena

Auditions are open to all fulltime students at any of the five Alamo Colleges and Trinity University.

PREREQUISITE: Successful completion of a college-level course in improvisation. You can be taking one this term, provided you pass the course. :-) If you're not currently enrolled, try to enroll in MUAP 1185: Private Improvisation for Flex II. There are multiple instructors for this course on multiple campuses within the Alamo Colleges system. Contact your music department chair or discipline coordinator for more information.

Francis Stromboe at Berklee in Boston
This year's IASJ international jazz meeting will be hosted by the Učilište za popularnu i jazz glazbu (Music School Ladislav Račić) in Zagreb, Croatia. One lucky student will get to participate in this life-changing intercultural experience. It could be you this year!
Jea Lorr and the great Brazilian composer-guitarist Guinga in Sao Paulo

PREPARE: 2 contrasting jazz pieces of your choice

BRING: 3 copies of your music (lead sheets, C-concert)

SCALES/ARPEGGIOS: Major and minor, all keys

SIGHTREADING: chordal (lead sheet), rhythmic, and melodic


Auditions for the A-JAM program are held annually--the week before Thanksgiving--by appointment only. To join A-JAM in the spring term, you must have successfully completed a basic course in improvisation, which is offered in the fall semester. Contact Dr. Cartwright at 210-486-4828 to schedule your audition. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Student and Faculty Chosen to Represent Alamo Colleges at Prestigious Jazz Meeting in Estonia

Good news! San Antonio College music student Marco Salinas and his applied jazz/improvisation teacher and adjunct instructor at the Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College, Joe Caploe, have been accepted into the prestigious 2018 Jazz Meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz, July 2-7! This year's global jazz meeting is to be hosted by the Viljandi Culture Academy in Estonia.
Marco Salinas

"It is a great honour for me to welcome all of you to Viljandi, Estonia, for the 2018 IASJ Jazz Meeting.... We hope the meeting in Viljandi will lead to new avenues for dialogue and new collaborations across borders and we wish that the meetings and concerts are about celebrating jazz and the arts that is enriching our lives, our country and our society. Prepare yourself to be challenged, excited and inspired. See you in Viljandi! - Iñaki Sandoval, Director Viljandi Culture Academy 
Liam Dixon (5th from right), Caploe (right), 2017 Jazz Meeting, Siena

Launched in 2010, the A-JAM Alamo Colleges Jazz Mentorship Program creates opportunities for San Antonio students to succeed both locally and internationally in the intercultural collaborative field of jazz. To understand our mission, take five minutes to watch the trailer for a documentary on the unique international jazz meeting we prepare our students to attend. This is the grand prize for members of the A-JAM program, and it is--as founding member Ronan Guilfoyle stated--"a pearl beyond price." In the words of A-JAM student Odie Wallace (IASJ Denmark 2013), the experience is "life changing." 
As the filmmaker says, it's "a documentary film about jazz education that's not about the music. It's a film about collaboration, creativity, and community; a film about sharing ideas across cultures, a film about the legacy that passes from generation to generation; a respect for the elders, and the hope that the younger generation will take that knowledge and pass it forward. David Liebman, who won the NEA Jazz Masters award in 2011, founded the IASJ [International Association of Schools of Jazz] about twenty years ago with the sole purpose of creating a forum for cross-cultural communication." - Leon Segal, filmmaker and psychologist. Read more about the program... 
Francis Stromboe (left), 2016 Jazz Meeting, Boston

Please join us in congratulating Marco and Joe and wishing them well on their jazz journey!  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Student Selected for A-JAM Program 2018

Marco Salinas, San Antonio College student drummer and percussionist has been selected as the 2018 A-JAM student representative. Please join me in congratulating Marco and his applied percussion instructor, Joe Caploe of the Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College! Many thanks to our judges, Gregory Gonzales of St. Phillip's College, and Richard Oppenheim of the Musicians Society of San Antonio. Read Marco Salinas' essay below to understand his journey to jazz and A-JAM. We wish him the best on his journey through the A-JAM mentorship program.
"Discovering Jazz On My Way To A-JAM," by Marco Salinas

You can say I've been on the path to A-JAM for a while now. I first heard about this opportunity being involved in the jazz ensemble at San Antonio College. I remember the instructor Mr. Andrew Gignac asking me how long I've been studying jazz, and I said, "I really don’t know, but I just have a feel for it." I can remember first discovering jazz when people mentioned swing! I love the snaps on beats two and four. I discovered so much more in high school from other drummers. They taught me basic patterns, but did a lot of name dropping. I took more from that. This is when I started paying attention to guys like Dave Weckl and Vinnie Colaiuta. A few years later a friend of mine played me some John Coltrane, which led me to Elvin Jones. Listening to these guys and this music you can see that there is a lot going on.

I guess you can say this is why I'm interested in becoming a jazz musician. In a jazz band setup everyone has a responsibility. As a drummer, my main objective is keeping tempo or the beat for the group. I'm also listening and watching the other musicians for any cues. Sometimes a thirty-two bar song can last ten minutes due to solos, and it's very easy to get lost in the form of the song because of these solos, especially when you are trading fours with the band. Of course, jazz has a lot of improvising, which makes jazz seem free. So you can see there's a lot going on in a jazz setting. This is why I'm interested in being a jazz musician.

I expect to give it my all for A-JAM. I'm still learning, and that’s what I love about music or jazz. It seems never ending. I'll come prepared for every session we have and grow from it. Hopefully I can bring something new to the table. I'll bring a positive attitude. I also expect to gain a lot from A-JAM. I want to learn and grow as a musician with the experience I will gain from this wonderful opportunity.