As if to assuage my soul’s re-awakening sense of being pilloried by life in the Big Apple (something I forgot I had become used to while I was on the Left Coast), I heard a husky and familiar voice on my radio singing Vincent Youmans’s “Sometimes I’m Happy.” I searched my memory, but couldn’t come up with a name to attach to the voice.
Improvising with complete strangers is really hard, and playing music isn’t always about having a good time. I have found that having fun while playing is a perk, and not a necessity to playing good music. And it should be emphasized that not having fun isn’t a reflection on the people one is playing with—it’s about how one feels at the moment.
The 2013 edition of Jazz Camp West is officially over. On Saturday, June 29, everyone packed their belongings and went to the last round of concerts before the barbecue lunch that was our last camp meal. But I had the pleasure of performing in several concerts featuring JCW artists in the days immediately following this year’s camp.
One of the reasons many artists involved in JCW feel that it is one of the high points of their year is that it’s not an institutional environment that needs to negate intuition and passion, but rather a learning environment that fosters and salutes them. It’s a bridge between the traditional and modern approaches to jazz education, where the former was steeped in mentorship and the latter in academic meritocracy.
Though luckily there were no drug cartel-associated mass murders in Monterrey as their had been on the opening night of last year’s festival and again on the morning after the last performance, this year’s Encuentro Internacional de Jazz y Música Viva was framed by its own internal controversy that emerged from its saxophone competition.