Jazz is Alive

“Jazz is restless. It won’t stay put and it never will.”
– J.J. Johnson

8232Along with baseball and barbecue, jazz is considered one of America’s greatest cultural exports, and one of its most adaptable. Since its inception in New Orleans in the early 20th century jazz has spread around the world, drawing on different regional, national and ethnic cultures for inspiration and spawning a bewildering variety of styles: New Orleans jazz, Kansas City jazz, Gypsy jazz, Dixieland, big band, ragtime, swing, be-bop, free jazz, modal jazz, Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz, cool jazz, smooth jazz, jazz-rock, etc., etc. As a result jazz, though ubiquitous, is difficult to define; Louis Armstrong remarked, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

UC San Diego’s Jazz Camp, an annual intensive summer program inaugurated in 2003, reflects the diversity of the jazz idiom in its faculty, student body, and repertoire. Jazz musicians ages 14-adult work in a variety of styles with professional jazz artists, honing their compositional, performance and improvisational skills. The goal of the Camp is to prepare students for life as a musician through immersion in jazz history, theory, techniques and genres.

First and foremost, jazz is about live performance. The five-day workshop culminates in a free Finale Concert featuring student ensembles presenting a program of standards and new compositions under the direction of faculty musicians. Several of the Camp’s alumni have gone on to pursue studies at such prestigious institutions as Yale, Juilliard, and the Berklee College of Music, and the Finale Concert affords the public the rare opportunity to hear future jazz luminaries at the start of their career.

Watch the UC San Diego Jazz Camp: Finale Concert Highlights 2015.

Browse other programs from past seasons of Jazz Camp.

The Rhythm of the 20th Century

8232It’s been said that jazz is one of America’s most significant and lasting cultural exports. The style that became known as jazz originated in New Orleans in the late 19th century, and grew rapidly in popularity and influence. By the beginning of the 20th century this musical genre had firmly established itself in Memphis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, New York City (specifically in Harlem) and other American cities. But it took a cataclysmic event to propel jazz “across the pond,” where it quickly established a firm foothold in the European cultural landscape.

The primary agent of that intercontinental expansion was Lieutenant James Reese Europe, a black officer and bandleader who volunteered in 1918 for service in World War I with members of his celebrated Harlem Society Orchestra. Because the U.S. Army was not yet integrated, their newly-formed 369th Regimental Band fought courageously alongside the French, who nicknamed the 369th “the Hellfighters” and awarded the Band the Croix de Guerre in recognition of their valor and contributions to morale.

In addition to their exploits on the battlefield, the Hellfighters brought jazz to several European cities — most notably to Paris, where several of the 369th’s musicians remained following the war’s end. In the ensuing decades Paris became a mecca for jazz practitioners and aficionados, as more Americans musicians emigrated to the City of Lights.

For the 19th Annual Lytle Scholarship Concert at UC San Diego, internationally renowned pianist and Department of Music Professor Emeritus Cecil Lytle is joined by a stellar array of jazz musicians from Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana in a concert entitled “Harlem Hellfighters: Jazz Goes to War.” Through narration and an eclectic selection of music this program relates the history of, and pays homage to, those brave soldiers and jazz ambassadors of the 369th Regimental Band.

“The music of this concert is the story of jazz,” Dr. Lytle notes, “a story of liberation ‘over there’ and back here… Not only did the Harlem Hellfighters fight for their country when they did not have equal rights at home, but they brought jazz to Paris and soon united generations of people around the world-young and old, rich and poor, black and white, friends and foes-in what would become the rhythm of the 20th century.”

Watch Harlem Hellfighters: Jazz Goes to War, a Lytle Memorial Concert.

Contributed by John Menier, Arts & Humanities Producer

It's SummerFest Season!

Summer wouldn’t be the same without La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest!

Every year La Jolla Music Society orchestrates three weeks of chamber music concerts with world famous musicians who not only perform original works but participate in discussions, give lectures and coaching sessions for younger musicians, and attend social events.

UCSD-TV has been capturing these musical moments since the 1999 SummerFest season and all of these performances are archived on our website.

SummerFest, led by violinist Cho-Liang Lin, delves into the story and art behind the musical pieces with pre-concert talks and interviews with the artists.

Get ready for the upcoming season of SummerFest with this past episode, featuring “Wayne Shorter’s Terra Incognita, 2006.” Shorter discusses his inspirations for his famous “Terra Incognita” as well as the Imani Winds quintet describing their experience playing the piece.

See what other musicians have been a part of the chamber music celebration in the SummerFest Series!

Jazz Camp 2013- Finale Concert Highlights

Looking for a way to send your summer off with a musical kick? UCSD-TV is here to help. Take one listen to our Jazz Camp finale concert and your toes will be ready to tap right into the fall. Students along with accomplished musicians take to the stage to perform compositions representing the many stylistic approaches to jazz.

Don’t miss the highlights from these incredible musicians, captured by UCSD-TV.

Check out videos from previous Jazz Camps or visit the UC San Diego Jazz Camp website!

Jam with the Students of UCSD's Jazz Camp

Every summer, a group of talented musicians, ranging in age from 14 to adult, gather together to jam … with jazz, that is.

The five-day Jazz Camp at UC San Diego offers intermediate to advance level musicians a diverse, one-of-a-kind journey into the world of jazz with group courses and workshops, plus private lessons, jam sessions, and concerts. The camp’s extraordinary faculty of leading jazz improvisers and educators help to sharpen students’ performance skills and enrich their experience of jazz as a broad spectrum of options for musical expression.

But the students aren’t the only ones to benefit. UCSD-TV cameras were at this year’s Jazz Camp Finale Concert to capture highlights of the wonderful student ensembles performing standards and new compositions. Watch it on your TV tonight, August 10, at 8pm or get a jump on your jazz fix and enjoy it online now. No jazz hands, please.