I N - T H I S - I S S U E : 


SEMJA Clinicians at the Ford Detroit Jazz Festival

SEMJA will again present seven Jazz Clinics on the Pepsi Jazz Academy Stage (near the Detroit River at Hart Plaza). We have been lucky to gather some of the area's most prominent musicians/educators as clinicians, as should be evident from this lineup:

Vincent York (Sept. 1, 1 PM) is a multi-reedist and educator who studied with Alvin Batiste at the Southern University Jazz Institute in Baton Rouge and received his graduate degree at the University of Michigan School of Music. He has toured and performed in the U.S., Europe and Japan and is a former member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra. York is a much sought after musician in the Detroit area and has been Musical Director for Martha Reeves. His own group, New York Force, has performed at Montreux-Detroit and other jazz festivals. There are two recordings under his own name: "Blending Forces" and "Opening and Focusing the Vision." He has been a jazz instructor at the Center for Creative Studies, Wayne State University, Mott Community College, and Ann Arbor Community High School, and he is presently Director of the Jazz Orchestra at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

Jack Pierson (Sept. 1, 5 PM) is President of the Michigan chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators. He was educated at Ohio University and has a teaching career stretching back into the late 1950s. He was Director and founder of the Jazz Studies program at Henry Ford Community College and made the first visit to the Montreux Festival in Switzerland in 1973. He has also taught in area high schools, and at Schoolcraft College, Interlochen, and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. His former advanced improvisation students include young lions like tenorist Rick Margitza and bassist Bob Hurst.

Chris Collins (Sept. 2, 1 PM), is a Detroit-born saxophonist/composer/arranger. He is on the faculty of the School of Music at Wayne State University, where he is the Director of Music Management. Collins has toured much of the world as both leader and sideman with Mel Torme, Louie Bellson, Red Rodney, Lou Rawls, and Phil Collins, to name a few. He is sought-after as a clinician and jazz educator since he combines performance, composing, and communications technology. Collins has presented workshops and master classes all over the U.S. and in Japan, Scotland, and Canada. His two most recent CDs, "Urban Solitude" and "Time Will Tell" are reviewed elsewhere in this newsletter.

Ernie Rodgers (Sept. 2, 4:15 PM) moved to Detroit in 1947 from Monroe. He had started on the clarinet in his hometown and once in Detroit he changed to the alto saxophone. Rodgers studied saxophone under the world-renowned musician and educator Larry Teal, and received degrees from Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University. He has performed with many top jazz performers, including Sammy Davis, Jr., Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Wynton Marsalis. In Detroit his parents started the legendary Rapa House, an after-hours performance space for Detroit musicians. He is the leader of three Rapa House bands varying in size from 6 to 18 pieces. His career as an educator began at Miller Middle School and continued at Northwestern High School where he founded the Jazz Ensemble. His former students include saxophonist James Carter and bassists Ralphe Armstrong and Marion Hayden. He is currently teaching in the Jazz Studies Program at Wayne State University.

Alma Smith (Sept. 3, 1 PM) grew up in Detroit and took lessons from the legendary Detroit pianist Milt Buckner. In her teens she played with Lucky Thompson and Wardell Gray, and other local stars in the making. After graduating from Cass Tech she went on the road with Counts and the Countess trio, including a long stint in California. Returning to Detroit she played with Rudy Rutherford, but eventually went back on the road. In the 1960s she added the organ to the piano and the vibraphone and played with Lou Rawls and others. She was given the Legends of Jazz International award in 1995. In recent years, she has worked with her own quintet, trio and duo in clubs and recordings. She is also a prolific composer and an effective jazz educator in area schools.

Marion Hayden (Sept. 3, 4:15 PM) is a Detroit born bassist and composer. She studied privately with a number of private tutors including Detroit Symphony Orchestra bassist Stephen Molina and jazz masters Ray McKinney and Marcus Belgrave. She has performed with a number of jazz greats including Belgrave, Roy Brooks, Geri Allen, Lionel Hampton, Joe Williams, Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Barry Harris and Kirk Lightsey. Marion is one of the founding members of Straight Ahead, a Detroit-based group that has recorded three CDs for Atlantic Records. She has taught at the University of Michigan, Cuyahoga Community College and the Detroit Public Schools.

Tim Froncek (Sept. 4, 1 PM) has been playing drums professionally for over 25 years with, among others, Woody Herman, Al Grey and Randy Brecker. A member of the faculty of Grand Rapids Community College, he is the director of instrumental jazz studies and a percussion instructor. Also a member of the faculty at Western Michigan University, Froncek performs with the Western Jazz Quartet. He is a popular clinician and adjudicator and is a Vice President of the Michigan Chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators. He fronts his own quartet on the vibraphone and leads the "Night Band."