I must confess that among the dozens (and dozens) of unsolicited email messages that pour into the Rifftides computer each day, I have paid little attention to those from the Litchfield Jazz Camp. That changed when one arrived with news that next year the camp moves from Kent to another Connecticut town. From the news release:
The camp will now be held at Canterbury School in New Milford, CT. The new campus allows the camp to offer a wide array of health and fitness options along with its time-honored, top quality music instruction.
Photographer Mark Vanasse’s picture of the new site is what caught my eye:
It reminded me a bit of the idyllic campus in the old Patrick McGoohan TV series The Prisoner, minus the presence of that threatening giant balloon.
The Litchfield camp’s music director is Don Braden, a saxophonist with a long discography and a track record in bands led by Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter and Wynton Marsalis. The extensive faculty includes such veterans as Claudio Roditi, Matt Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, Helen Sung and Orrin Evans as well as established newer artists like pianist Carmen Staaf and bassist Luques Curtis. The Litchfield camp is administered by Litchfield Performing Arts, a charitable organization that describes its mission as “changing lives through the arts.”
“Charitable” doesn’t mean free, of course, but considering the high costs of summer camps these days, Litchfield’s charges seem reasonable, and a quarter of the camp’s students attend on needs-based scholarships totaling a value of about $100,000 each year. The camp’s website includes a video with information, and explanations from Braden, Jimmy Heath and others.
YouTube has a collection of videos from previous camps. Here’s a 2012 student group getting familiar with the blues via Duke Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” including two choruses of collective improvisation.