courtesy National Music Centre

Promoting local jazz artists

National Jazz Summit offers performances and workshops to aspiring musicians

Publication YearIssue Date 

The National Music Centre’s second annual National Jazz Summit will provide aspiring jazz musicians and enthusiasts with the opportunity to learn from some of Canada’s best jazz artists.

The Jazz Summit is a weekend of performances and educational workshops at the National Music Centre May 23–25. It aims to promote and expand Calgary and Canada’s jazz community by offering local artists opportunities to work with Canadian artists such as Denzal Sinclaire and Chris Andrew.

Candace Elder, senior manager of programs at the National Music Centre, says the summit is about providing local Calgary artists with mentorship opportunities and about helping to build an audience for local musicians.

“We have a really good musician population when it comes to jazz,” Elder says. “We’ve got a lot of jazz artists in this city that are really high-profile artists.”

To show off some of Calgary’s jazz talent, the summit kicks off with an event that showcases artists from The Banff Centre’s International Workshop of Jazz and Creative Music and Calgary musicians, such as AJ Benoit. This Canadian Covers event will feature some of Calgary’s best jazz artists covering jazz tracks from Canadian songwriters.

On Friday the summit will host The Big Show with Sinclaire and a local rhythm section, who will be working together over the course of the day to collaborate on the evening’s performance.

The National Jazz Summit began last year as a response to a growing need in Calgary’s jazz community after the Calgary jazz festival was cancelled in 2010.

“We lost the festival and felt that there was a hole in jazz programming in Calgary,” Elder says.

Elder says the launch of the National Jazz Summit last year saw a big response from the Calgary community, with the workshops filling up.

“We had lots of people coming in, very varying demographics, all ages of people coming in to learn more about jazz and work with these artists,” Elder says. “There’s a lot of appeal to a lot of different people.”

This year they have three workshops taking place. Sinclaire will be doing a vocal workshop the day after The Big Show, working on vocal technique, repertoire and style; Chris Andrew, an instructor at Grant MacEwan University, will be holding an ensemble workshop that focuses on rhythm sections, rehearsal techniques and playing alongside a soloist; and a big-band workshop will provide local music teachers an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of jazz and learn big-band rehearsal techniques.