MSJ in the News

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Students gather for jazz camp at as a part of ninth annual Maryland Summer Jazz Festival
World-renowned musicians hold three-day instructional jazz camp

by Cara Hedgepeth, Staff writer

The ninth season of the Maryland Summer Jazz Festival gets underway Tuesday with a kickoff concert at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

At the heart of Maryland Summer Jazz is a three-day camp for musicians ages 16 and up. The camp features workshops, jam sessions and concerts led by some of the top-rated musicians in the country. The program encourages amateur and semi-pro musicians of varying skill levels to hone their talents by playing in small combos and groups.

“As a teacher, in my experience, that’s the best way to learn,” said Maryland Summer Jazz Camp instructor Leonardo Lucini. Lucini is also a prominent bassist and artist in residence at Montgomery College. “It’s the hands-on experience that makes the difference in my opinion.”


Jeff Antoniuk (top-second from right) will perform with his band, The Jazz Update, as a part of the Maryland Summer Jazz Festival. Trumpeter John D’earth (bottom left) is one of the instructors for the Maryland Summer Jazz Camp. He also directs jazz performance at the University of Virginia. In addition to performing with the band Origem, Brazilian-born bassist Leonardo Lucini (bottom right) is also an educator and artist in residence at Montgomery College.

According to Lucini, each instructor rotates to work with small groups of students for three days, culminating in a concert for their family and friends on July 26 at Saint Mark Presbyterian Church in North Bethesda.

“This is a very unique and rare opportunity for students of all ages to be exposed to teachers from different backgrounds and different styles ...” Lucini said. “ ... In this condensed period of time ... teachers have a chance to interact with them and answer specific questions ...”

Participants in the Maryland Summer Jazz Camp learn about music theory and harmony and improvisation, but they also learn about the work ethic and determination it takes to succeed in any professional environment, especially as a professional musician.

“There are life skills that will be imparted and hopefully they’ll carry on in their everyday lives,” said Steve Rochinski, four-time Maryland Summer Jazz instructor and a professor at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

This is Lucini’s first year with Maryland Summer Jazz. For the last two years, he has taught master classes as a part of In Depth Jazz, a series of clinics and concerts run by professional saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk and Paula Phillips, the co-founders of Maryland Summer Jazz.

“That’s how they got to know me,” Lucini said. “And this year they called me to do the Maryland Summer Jazz Camp.”

Now Maryland Summer Jazz’s administrative director, Phillips, along with Antoniuk founded the camp after recognizing a need for adult jazz instruction in the region.

“This concept of a wide range of ages and abilities under the instruction of world-class musicians has really been around for a long time,” Rochinski said, pointing to programs such as the workshops led by Indiana-based musician Jamey Aebersold.

But until Antoniuk and Phillips, there was no such program in the Mid-Atlantic area.

“Jeff and Paula have clearly found a vacuum in that region,” Rochinski said.

Technically, the jazz camp began July 13 with an optional jazz music theory and prep workshop, although the official start is Tuesday’s kickoff concert. The performance will feature Antoniuk and his band, Jeff Antoniuk & the Jazz Update with Rochinski accompanying on guitar.

“It’s a networking opportunity for all of us,” Rochinski said. “Because of the distance, it’s a great way for me to kind of reconnect with these guys.”

The concerts also provide another opportunity for the professional musicians to emphasize the importance of improvisation for their students.

“There is nothing contrived or preconceived about [the performance] ...” Rochinski said. “ ... What the performance offers on a professional level is for us to get together and do what we do best, which is present this music in a way that I believe illustrates just how deep this type of improvisational process can go ...”

For Maryland Summer Jazz Camp students, watching the professionals perform in concert is yet another learning opportunity.

“Some of the tunes from the concert will be the same music students learn throughout the week,” said Lucini, who will play in the finale concert. “After they see the professionals performing, they will be able to have a more in-depth understanding of the music.”

Ultimately, the goal of the jazz camp is for students to elevate and enhance the skills they already have.

“ ... I would think that this experience invigorates and energizes them in a way,” Rochinski said. “It’s a great opportunity for older people ... a lot of folks in that category will be retired or semi-retired and this gets them to get out and rediscover their musical heart.”

The Maryland Summer Jazz kickoff concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. July 23 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 7719 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda. Tickets are $20, plus a food and drink minimum. Order tickets at The finale concert will be held July 26 at Saint Mark Presbyterian Church located at 10701 Old Georgetown Rd., North Bethesda. Students will perform at 7 p.m. followed by the faculty performance at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Buy tickets at or at the door.




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