NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – For a lot of young people, their appreciation of music is probably rock or hip hop, but we found a group of young people who is concentration this summer is for jazz. And with that, the great Germaine Bazzle teaches a group of aspiring jazz artists at this year’s Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp.
It’s their 20th year of operation, but the camp was designed to pick up some of the slack from music education programs being eliminated from our schools.
“The primary purpose is to augment the lack of music education in schools. When Marc and I talked, Mayor Morial and I talked about what we could do to really support music education, because if you remember it was back in the 90s that schools budgets were having problems and the arts education was eliminated from the curriculum, and so we felt we needed to do that. We felt we also needed to support jazz music in New Orleans,”says Jackie Harris, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp Founder and Executive Director.
For the 5th straight year, the camp is located on the campus of Loyola, and each year’s growth has been great.
Another goal of the camp is a comprehensive appreciation of jazz, according to Harris, “We have 84 kids this year. And the new additions are strings and swing dance as you can see behind me.”
In addition to Germaine Bazzle, the instructors are world class musicians. Edward Kidd Jordan has educated musician in New Orleans for 40 years. He’s been artistic director of the camp for the entire 20 years.
For him, a good music foundation is what it’s all about, “Try to deal with some of the youngsters, to give ’em the right foundation. And you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the right foundation, the talent gets cut out in a minute. But if you start out, have a good foundation and practice, you may not reach the stars but somebody will come and say, that’s a musician.”
We also spoke with the kids, and they love the experience but also welcome the challenge of playing with the greats.
“It’s intimidating, but it’s fun,” says James Haddad.
“The one thing I’ve never really learned how to do is relax, and the first day she told us, ‘OK, the first thing that you need to do in order to leard to scat is you need to relax’, and I was like, ‘How do I do that,'” says Charis Gullage.
Three weeks of challenging fun to groom our next generation of jazz greats, and it happens right in our city. As director Harris put it, “I mean we’re the birthplace of jazz and if young people can’t come to New Orleans to learn the art form, then where can they go?”