For the past 18 years I’ve been on staff as a vocal coach at a magical place called Tritone Jazz Camp. This week of early mornings and late nights is exhilarating, enlightening and exhausting. It’s a challenge of humility and humanity. It tests our patience and brings us joy. It’s a week of vulnerability and victory. Yin and Yang at it’s finest!
There are many reasons I look forward to this week and one is the fact that I get to spend it with my dear friend and mentor, John Harmon.
John is a very youthful 80 years old and practices his piano every day. He’s still gigging on a regular basis and is in the process of finishing his third symphony. John knows thousands of songs and can play in any key. His fingers are nimble and his musical ideas ever-evolving. Many of John’s solo’s are intact compositions that incorporate rhythm, melody, harmony and space. He is sharp, articulate and very witty. John is patient and accommodating to the musicians and singers who are fortunate enough to spend a week under his tutelage.
Then there’s the rest of the talented staff. An incredible assemblage of individuals that have played thousands of gigs, (good and not so good), but continue to discover, discuss and deliver their hearts and souls on a musical platter. People like Gene Bertoncini, Ike Sturm, Misty Sturm, Tom Washatka, Dean Sorenson, Terrell Stafford, Zach Harmon and Rod Blumenau. These are the people I’m honored to call my friends.
Rod Blumenau shows us what he likes to do to unwind:
The campers at Tritone have become family and the love of this musical pursuit brings us together. Each new “family member” is greeted with openness and support. No initiation necessary.
Jazz unfolds us and continues to challenge our ability to change. Accepting change is part of the human evolution and jazz nurtures that acceptance. A detailed focus on nuance and emotional flexibility is one of the many places where jazz musicians live. To hear and react on a high level is the epitome of being in the present and the acceptance of who you are in that moment and what you contribute, defines the individuality that colors the “collective”.
Tritone Camp is about the music. Jazz music that brings us together, makes us crazy, keeps us honest, youthful and curious.