Jazz Aspen to revive summer academy | AspenTimes.com

Jazz Aspen to revive summer academy

Staff report

Christian McBride teaching at the JAS Academy Summer Sessions in Snowmass Village in 2008. Jazz Aspen is reviving the program this summer.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass is bringing back its summer education program for gifted college students this summer, the nonprofit announced recently.

Formerly known as the JAS Academy Summer Sessions, the new format will be called JAS Academy Big Band Sessions. It will be led by former Academy Artistic Director and Grammy-nominated bassist Christian McBride.

The JAS Academy was a mid-summer, all-scholarship teaching and mentoring program for gifted young artists, originally launched in 1996 as the Thelonious Monk Institute Colony in affiliation with the prestigious Washington-based organization. In 2000, Jazz Aspen took the program focus in a different direction and launched the Summer Sessions.

"The number of super talented players who studied at the JAS Academy reads like a 'who's who' of the finest up-and-coming artists in the scene today," McBride said in the announcement. "The academy was an absolute breeding ground for the best young players around."

Many of those artists have returned to Aspen in recent years to headline the JAS Café.

The program was cut in 2010, as Jazz Aspen faced economic pressure from the recession and the loss of their title sponsor, shifting focus to local music education initiatives. Since then these local programs have grown immensely, reaching over 1,500 public middle and high school students each year.

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Jazz Aspen is now in a stronger and more stable economic position, with a growing group of donors supporting the return of the JAS Academy, which will run Aug. 12 to 20. Up to 20 students will be selected from top music programs across the country to work with McBride and other jazz masters — Benny Green and Russell Malone among them — on an interactive curriculum designed around the big band. The week will conclude with a live performance at the JAS Café in which all students will perform as a big band under the direction of McBride.

"Christian is the perfect artist to lead this new concept, having led his own big band for many years," said Jazz Aspen President Jim Horowitz. "We are so excited to not only be able to offer this experience to the students, but also to offer the community opportunities to enjoy their music at the JAS Café and other performances to be announced."

Applications are being accepted now. The deadline is April 13. Students will be chosen by May 1. The program is full-scholarship with Jazz Aspen Snowmass covering all travel, lodging and tuition costs. A full schedule of academy events will be released later this year.

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