Jazz institute offers new twists on an all-time favorite program
Rufus Reid performs July 1 (Photo by John Abbott)
A summer tradition for jazz lovers throughout the Capital Region, the Skidmore College Jazz Institute—one of the premier summer programs to study jazz in the U.S.—returns June 28 to the Saratoga Springs campus for the 27th year.
Under the direction of Todd Coolman, the jazz institute continues to provide a new generation of musicians the opportunity to mingle with and learn from gifted educators and world-class performers in an intimate and supportive environment. Previous students have successfully pursued jazz-related careers in the areas of performance, teaching, and business and include Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith, Richie Barshay, Jonathan Batiste, Brandon Lee, Christian Scott, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Ryan Cohan, and Myron Walden, among others.
A high point each year is the concert series by acclaimed guest artists and students enrolled in the program. This year’s schedule includes the following events. With the exception of the student concerts (which start at 1 p.m.), all performances begin at 8 p.m. in the Arthur Zankel Music Center, Ladd Concert Hall.
July 1—Rufus Reid Quintet
Legendary bassist Rufus Reid leads this quintet featuring Steve Allee (piano), Duduka DaFonseca (drums), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), and Tia Fuller (alto saxophone).
Musician, composer, and educator Reid has been a crowd pleaser on the bass and has earned praise for his composing as well. In a review of Hues of a Different Blue, the 2011 CD featuring Reid, Allee and DaFonseca, The New Yorker noted, “His luscious sound and buoyant swing can levitate an ensemble clear off the bandstand.”
July 3—Skidmore Faculty Septet, featuring Bill Cunliffe (piano), David Wong (bass), Dennis Mackrel (drums), Paul Bollenback (guitar), Antonio Hart (alto saxophone), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), and Michael Dease (trombone).
July 4—Concert by Skidmore Jazz Institute students, 1 p.m.
July 8—Gary Smulyan Trio
Baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan leads this trio featuring Billy Drummond (drums) and Ray Drummond (bass).
Multi-instrumentalist Smulyan is a critically acclaimed artist who holds a string of Grammy awards and such accolades as the 2009 and 2011 Downbeat Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophone, the 2011 Jazz Times Readers and Critics Polls for Baritone Saxophone of the year, the 2013 expanded Jazz Times Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Jazz Journalist Award for Baritone Saxophone of the year.
July 10—Skidmore Faculty Septet, featuring Bill Cunliffe (piano), Doug Weiss (bass), Dennis Mackrel (drums), Adam Moezinia (guitar), Jimmy Greene (saxophone), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), and James Burton III (trombone).
Gary Smulyan is scheduled to perform July 8
July 11—Concert by Skidmore Jazz Institute students, 1 p.m.
Admission to the student concerts is free. Tickets to all other concerts are $8 adults, $5 seniors and Skidmore community, free for students and children. For reservations: skidmore.edu/zankel
Skidmore’s Jazz Institute has undergone programmatic and personnel changes this year.
A new program focusing on recording software is offered this summer. John Nazarenko
will lead the Avid Pro Tools Workshop, which will give students a hands-on opportunity
to learn a basic understanding of the preeminent recording software in the music industry. In
addition, there are a number of new faculty members, including two (trombonist James
Burton III and bass player David Wong) who are institute alumni.
Director Coolman shared his thoughts on the new developments. “Jazz is about change. I believe that the new faculty represent evolution, new ideas and methods, and is emblematic of the changes that take place over time in music.”
He continued, “Our new colleagues will provide new energy, which we think will promote the highest level of student engagement. We know they will continue the tradition of great music performance that the region has long enjoyed hearing during our concert series, and we’re looking forward to providing excellent student mentoring. We will be the role models of the musicians and people our students aspire to be.”
Coolman said he is confident that the public will be pleased with what they hear at this year’s concerts and expressed gratitude for the continued high interest in the performances, as demonstrated by the strong attendance at the special events. “The public’s support of our presentations is essential to our long-term well-being. No them, no us,” he added.
Background on Skidmore Jazz Institute faculty is available here.
The Skidmore Jazz Institute, offered by the Office of the Dean of Special Programs, is sponsored in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, the Howard Bayne Foundation, the Arthur Zimtbaum Foundation, the Fairfield County Community Foundation and the Blue Note Label Group.