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The Guinness Cork Jazz Camp 2013

The Guinness Cork Jazz Camp 2013
Melody McLaren By

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Be able to sing everything you play. Tell the truth, from the heart. Don't lie. —Perico Sambeat
While much of the interest in Guinness Cork Jazz Festival —celebrating its 35th year in 2013—inevitably focuses on concert headliners, one of the hidden gems of the annual weekend programme is the Cork Jazz Camp, a collaborative effort between Fáilte Ireland, CIT Cork School of Music and the Global Music Foundation which has been developing since 2009. Global Music Foundation Director Stephen Keogh one of Europe's top drummers and jazz educators as well as a Festival veteran, selects his workshop teams with great care. GMF's stated intention is to feature 'outstanding musicians who are also great communicators,' and on the evidence of the 2013 Festival Jazz Camp this claim is justified.

American vocalist René Marie, named Guinness Jazz Personality of the Festival, altoist Perico Sambeat, pianist Albert Sanz, bassist Alex Davis and drummer Keogh sizzled in their Friday night set at The Everyman Theatre. The next afternoon Marie joined guitarist, conductor and arranger David O'Rourke to provide practical advice for aspiring vocalists at Singers Corner in the Everyman Theatre Bar, while the Phil Ware Trio provided able rhythm section support.

O'Rourke—who runs the Discovery Programme at the Jazz Standard Jazz Club in New York— also led two jazz arranging workshops over the weekend. O'Rourke and Keogh are both originally from Ireland. These days they are based in America and Europe respectively, and they have begun to develop a range of musical partnerships across the Atlantic. By way of scholarships given by Global Music Foundation, three students on the Jazz Standard's Discovery Programme were given the opportunity to attend workshops in the UK and Germany during 2013 and more collaborative activities are planned for the future.

Garrison Fewell, GMF tutor and Berklee College of Music professor, joined this year's Jazz Camp team. Also present were his Berklee faculty colleagues Matt Marvuglio and Mia Olson. Fewell led a guitar workshop with Marvuglio, offering a range of practical tips: "Know your own personality when it comes to learning things" and "work with your strengths. The sooner you can do that, the happier you'll be." Students who attended the Jazz Camp were invited to apply for Berklee Online scholarships. Following their Saturday Jazz Camp workshop, Fewell, Marvuglio and Olson performed in a Festival concert with Keogh and bassist Davis at Triskel Christchurch Arts Centre on Sunday evening.

Altoist Perico Sambeat, considered one of Spain's finest jazz musicians, having performed and recorded with Brad Mehldau, Michael Brecker, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Pat Metheny, led a Sax Summit offering key tips on improvisation. Noting that Western music had become increasingly abstract and inaccessible in comparison to Latin music, he advised students to "be able to sing everything you play," emphasising it was important to "tell the truth, from the heart. Don't lie."

The next day Jazz Camp students were treated to a live rehearsal of Sambeat's quartet (with Sanz, Davis and Keogh) ahead of their evening concert performance at Triskel Christchurch.

The youngest member of the GMF team, British bassist Alex Davis, exemplifies what can be achieved through GMF's practical approach to learning. A GMF summer school student in 2008, Davis led his own Bass is the Place workshop as well as performing in Festival concerts throughout the weekend. He counselled students to remember that, despite the challenges of developing as a jazz musician, "failure is important" and provides valuable opportunities to learn. He added that it is essential not only to play with better musicians but also to play with people who not as far along as you are, adding that, "it's important to help bring others through."

Over the 2013 Cork Jazz Festival weekend the GMF Jazz Camp team worked successfully to engage and inspire a wide range of musicians and audience members. If this strand of the festival continues it will soon be getting some headlines of its own.

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