Next Generation of Music Stars Join Intensive Jazz Music Boot Camp

In Its 10th Year, the Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony Launches Young Musicians to New Heights
by Patrick Giblin

A student in the 2011 Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony jams with faculty artist-clinician Herman Burney.

by Christopher HerediaJul 30, 2012
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Beginning August 4, through August 10, 18 of the nation's best and brightest high-school jazz musicians will arrive at University of the Pacific for the Brubeck Institute's Summer Jazz Colony, an intensive weeklong music boot camp. The summit will feature more than a half dozen free public performances and conclude with a concert at Faye Spanos Concert Hall. The students, and their faculty mentors, will be available for interviews.

In its 10th year, the Brubeck Institute's Summer Jazz Colony, informed by the style and gifts of legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, has trained 148 young musicians many of whom have gone on to successful careers. Former colonists include alto-saxophonist rising star Grace Kelly and Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Eldar Djangirov.

"It's worthwhile to check out because it is essentially the Olympics of jazz," said Professor Patrick Langham, director of Jazz Studies at Pacific's Conservatory of Music and a faculty mentor for the colonists.

Over the course of the week, the students, all of whom are skillful musicians and had to go through a rigorous application process which included submitting a recorded audition, will work one-on-one with some of the finest artist-educators in the field. Joining this year's lineup of gifted instructors will be guest artist Stefon Harris, a four-time Grammy nominated vibraphonist-composer.

"It's an incredible gathering," said Langham, an accomplished saxophonist. "We designed the program to be very competitive to get into. These are the best high school jazz musicians in the country."

Simon Rowe, executive director of the Brubeck Institute, said the three main components of the training program are to immerse the young musicians in a small-group learning environment with peers of a high caliber; to place the students in small groups with very skilled mentors and to make the entire process intensive. All of the students must be enrolled in high school to participate.

"The concept is jazz improvisation," said Rowe, an established jazz pianist, who will direct and teach at this summer's workshop. "Spontaneous creation, within a small-group context, is the focus."

Michael Mitchell, 17, of Dallas, Texas, said he is looking forward to coming back a second year to participate in the Summer Jazz Colony. A talented jazz drummer and a senior at Booker T. Washington High School for The Performing Arts, Mitchell said of his experience at the 2011 Colony: "We're taught at Brubeck to let the music do what it does, to not force it, it's something that comes naturally. The music has its own kind of vibe. What we learn is definitely applicable in the real world."

The Summer Jazz Colony, which began in 2002, is one of the Brubeck Institute's core programs. The Institute began in 2000 at Pacific's Stockton campus and is devoted to the study of creativity through the music and life of Dave Brubeck. 

The Brubeck Institute Summer Jazz Colony takes place from August 4 through August 10. It will culminate with a free concert August 10 from 5:30pm  to  7:30pm at Faye Spanos Concert Hall, 3511 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95204. Smaller concerts also will be held every night during the week at the Take Five Jazz Club in the Valley Brew restaurant on Stockton's Miracle Mile. For information about the performances, call 209-946-3196, or visit