Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U of M jazz camp adds some sizzle to summer

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JAZZ doesn't take summer holidays.

So, from Aug. 17-23, jazz students will be studying, performing and absorbing the music they love at the annual University of Manitoba jazz camp.

Civilian jazz fans can get a taste of the camp too, when jazz faculty members Steve Kirby (bass), Will Bonness (piano), Derrick Gardner (trumpet), Jon Gordon (saxophone), Anna-Lisa Kirby (vocals) and Curtis Nowosad (drums) perform a concert at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Aug. 20 (7:30 p.m., $25).

The camp is aimed at junior and senior high school students, jazz musicians, music educators -- anyone who wants to improve their performance skills.

Instruction is in a small-ensemble setting where students will work on the concept of rhythmic interaction, dynamic interplay and call and response. Developing improvisation techniques while building repertoire is also stressed.

Registration forms are available at For more information, contact Diana Hooper at 204-474-8019 or 1-800-216-7011, ext. 8019.

Staff and students will also play on Thursday, Aug. 21, at The Orbit Room on Pembina Highway in a jam session from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Get there early; it fills up fast.

Nowosad, a U of M jazz studies grad now taking a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music, says the WAG concert will include music from his new CD, recorded here in June and set to be released in spring 2015.

-- -- --

Jazz fans are devoutly loyal to and protective of their musical heroes.

So when that august publication, the New Yorker, ran a purportedly satiric piece on its website July 31 in which Sonny Rollins "in his own words" described how he had wasted his life playing jazz, and how "The saxophone sounds horrible. Like a scared pig," fans and jazz critics and musicians were in an outrage.

(If you've been offline, the New Yorker blog is at

Rollins himself, in a YouTube video response with jazz journalist Bret Primack, said when he first skimmed the online Shouts and Murmurs posting, it reminded him of Mad Magazine, a humour publication he enjoyed and subscribed to for many years.

But after a closer reading, he admits, "It hurt me."

The New Yorker blog, by Django Gold of The Onion satirical website, set the Internet and social media atwitter as jazz lovers jumped in to attack the magazine and defend Rollins, who at 83 is an elder statesman of jazz, having shared a stage with other greats such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.

Fans and musicians alike revere him, and despite having a sense of humour and calm demeanour, Rollins found the blog to be "kind of cutting about jazz.

"I got very upset about it. They're saying very insulting things about jazz," Rollins said in his video response (

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton took one of the strongest stands against the New Yorker blog:

Jazz journalist Howard Mandel admits that jazz should not be immune to satire, but makes the point that satire must be funny:

The New Yorker later added a note to the blog explaining that it was "a work of satire."

Anyone who knows anything about Rollins' life and work would know it wasn't in his words. But as the saxophonist says in the video: "It was hurtful for young musicians practising... if they thought I said something as stupid as that. It hurt me."

Satire is a difficult medium to master. As Mandel says, you have to be right on -- especially so if you're going to satirize a cultural icon of Rollins' stature.

Remember, jazz fans have good ears but they also have thin skins when it comes to the music and musicians they cherish.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 11, 2014 D3

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