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Jazz at Aspen Snowmass

Trio da Paz

This week, JazzSet visits the Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival (and the JAS Academy for musicians), the summer sessions held in Snowmass Village, close to Aspen, in the Colorado Rockies.

Selected via competition, five bands with musicians in their late teens and early 20s are in Colorado to move to a higher musical level at the Jazz Aspen Snowmass and the JAS Academy. Bassist and artistic director Christian McBride and program director -- and tenor saxophonist -- Loren Schoenberg lead the dream-team faculty.

The five groups are Gerald Clayton's piano trio, right, from Los Angeles; the East West Quintet, from Los Angeles and New York; Adonis Rose, below, leading a mentoring group (more experienced than the other four) from New Orleans; Insight, Latin jazz from New England, whose set clogged the dance floor; and Ko, a collective from London that's in love with funk.

Gerald Clayton Trio

There are also vocalists: Simone Kopmajer from Vienna, as well as Gretchen Parlato and Gina Saputo from Los Angeles. On next week's JazzSet, hear Gretchen take first place at the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition, only a few months after Aspen.

Mornings at the academy begin with a history class. Then come rehearsals and sectionals -- with participants grouped by instrument -- followed by master classes and performances into the night. On JazzSet, we are at the Hickory House restaurant in Aspen on July 26, 2004, to hear one impressive band after another, as the players cheer one other on.

Adonis Rose
JAS Academy artist-in-residence Eddie Palmieri is in the audience, and he likes what he hears. He is a huge influence on Insight, the Latin jazz ensemble. After their set, the master was all smiles, saying, "Give them another two years, and Insight will blow any band off the stage!" That's true of all these young, talented bands. We guarantee you will enjoy their promising music.

As a JazzSet special, we have some musical samples for you. The three singers at the 2004 JAS Academy were Simone Kopmajer from Vienna, Gina Saputo from Los Angeles, and Gretchen Parlato from Los Angeles, now living in New York. Simone has been working very hard on her scat singing, but our sample, with the trio Ko, is bluesier. Gina sings an actual blues with the East West Quintet. Tierney Sutton produced Gina's first album. Our sample from Gretchen is from her winning performance at the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition.

Hear Simone Kopmajer

Hear Gina Saputo

Hear Gretchen Parlato

Selections and Players

Adonis Rose Quintet: "ESP" (Wayne Shorter) Leon Brown trumpet, Steve Walker trombone, Jonathan Batiste piano, Peter Harris bass, (bassist Max Moran also participated in the Academy), leader Adonis Rose drums

Gerald Clayton Trio: "Gotta Travel On" (traditional) Clayton on piano, Alan Hampton bass, Kevin Kanner drums

Insight: "Story in Three" by pianist Zaccai Curtis With Luques Curtis, bass; Richie Barshay (who has toured Europe with Herbie Hancock), drums; Reinaldo Dejesus, percussionist; Joel Gonzales, trumpet; Zachary Lucas, alto sax; Raymond McMorrin, tenor sax

Ko: "Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)" (Marvin Gaye) Sam Best is the pianist; Pete Cochrane, bass; Bradley Webb, drums

East West Quintet: "Hard Times" (Ray Charles) Dylan Heaney, sax; Simon Kafka, guitar; Mike Cassedy, piano; Ben Campbell, bass; Matt Slocum; drums

Web Resources

  • More on the Jazz Academy Note: Application deadline is March 1.

  • Adonis Rose: Jazz Review

  • Adonis Rose: Label Site

  • Gerald Clayton: Artist Site

  • East West Quintet: Artist Site

  • Insight: Curtis Brothers

  • Insight: Richie Barshay

  • Ko: Artist Site

    Our visit was made possible by Jazz Aspen founder and executive producer James Horowitz, executive vice president Marc Breslin, festival director Joe Lang, Michelle Day, Joe Hope, Allison Elbl, and all at Jazz Aspen Snowmass, year-round music in the mountains, with festivals in June and on Labor Day weekend and a new sister festival in Sonoma, Calif., in late May.
    Our young engineers are Yujin Cha from WBGO, Newark, and Justin Peacock from KUVO, Denver. Thanks to Mike Pappas of KUVO for the generous loan of recording equipment. Our field producer is Becca Pulliam; technical director, Duke Markos.
    Thanks to Claude Carrière, director, and Pascal Camille, recording engineer, with Dee Dee Bridgewater in Paris. JazzSet's executive producer is Thurston Briscoe III WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, N.J.

    Copyright 2007 NPR