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Fondazione Siena Jazz Summer Workshop 2013

John Kelman By

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But the value of the Summer Workshop goes beyond the actual class work. "For many students, this is a very good chance for networking," Martinelli says. "There always has been, but now with its international quality what I've seen in the past four-or-five years is a constant increase of international students. This year it's more than 45%—almost half the students—coming from five different continents. So it's a great chance for musicians to start networking, especially within Europe, where the possibility of travel has become much easier because of the European Union—possibilities that musicians like Enrico Rava, Claudio Fasoli and musicians of that generation could only dream of. Taking a train to Paris and playing with somebody and not having to change the money and not needing a passport. So it's a great chance for networking and people seem to be very happy with it; many are coming for a second or third time, so they are gathering a lot of musical information, a lot of contacts; they are in touch with the people who are making music today, which is most important.



"It's fantastic to see all these young musicians, passionate about the music, yet they are still kids," Martinelli continues. "But they love this music and will find a way to play it in a way which is good for peers of their age. Whatever they do here is part of it. They will not necessarily play 'Evidence' or 'All the Things You Are'; maybe they will play their own music. But this is an important part of their formation as musicians."

Students must pass a rigorous set of standards in order to be accepted into the workshop. This includes being either jazz graduate students from Italian conservatories or equivalent foreign institutions; classical music graduates with documented performance activities in jazz (live and/or on record); or musicians without a formal degree but with at least three years of documented performance activities, live and/or in the studio. "They have to submit a CD," Martinelli explains. "They have a set of standards that they have to play; you need this because some people might be very good at improvising but not over structure. They can also present an original composition, but they have to choose two pieces from a set of different styles, like modal or bebop."

Still, while there is a certain level of expertise assumed across the entire group of accepted applicants, the first two days of the workshop are reserved for individual assessments, the result of which is assignment to specific combo classes. Obviously bass players want (and receive) education from bass players on the faculty—this year, in addition to Grenadier, also including Ben Street, Pietro Leveratto and Furio DiCastri—but equally important, they are placed in combo classes led by other instrumentalists who will actually play as part of the combo, so while 14 year-old drummer Luca Caruso took lessons from fellow stickmen Roberto Gatto and Ferenc Nemeth, he played in combo classes with Stefano Battaglia and expat Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake.

As a part of the two-week workshop, a series of free concerts were programmed around the city, as well as evenings sponsored by some of Siena's neighborhoods, where an inexpensive (but excellent) meal was followed with short sets delivered by some of the workshop's students. Over the first three evenings live performances by faculty members also gave students—and the rest of Siena, these concerts held in the beautiful Piazza Duomo and Cortile del Rettorato Universitario (a courtyard belonging to the Siena University)—the chance to hear just what they'd be working towards.



The Claudio Fasoli "Four," at Piazza Duomo on the first night— featuring, in addition to the saxophonist, drummer Gianni Bertoncini, and brothers Michele Calgaro and Lorenzo Calgaro, on guitar and double bass, respectively— delivered a set of contemporary, original music that blended the drummer's electronics with powerful grooves and particularly impressive playing from Fasoli and Michele Calgaro. The Siena Jazz University Orchestra followed, under the leadership of Roberto Spadoni and featuring two of the Summer Workshop's faculty members—bass clarinetist Achille Succi and guitarist Pietro Condorelli—in a set that weighed heavily on contemporary arrangements of jazz standards from Charles Mingus, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

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