Victoria’s U-JAM helps musicians of all ages jazz up their performance

Second annual Summer Jam Camp features a star-studded local faculty

Are you considering taking music lessons this summer or wondering how you can ramp up your live performance skills?

If you’d like to learn new licks, enhance your improvisational technique and gain a better understanding of music theory, some of the top jazz and blues musicians in Greater Victoria are teaching those things and more in July.

For a second year, the non-profit Universal Jazz Advocates and Mentors (U-JAM) Society is hosting its Summer Jam Camp at St. Margaret’s School. Set for July 22-26 and available to those with at least basic musicianship skills aged 12-over, the camp is designed to motivate instrumentalists and vocalists to pursue musical activity, by offering direct instruction in an environment of encouragement and fun.

Local performing artists Ryan Oliver, Nick LaRiviere, Susannah Adams and Bruce Hurn are among the list of over 20 top-notch faculty members and clinicians. Returning faculty include well-known local musicians Louise Rose, Joey Smith, Rob Cheramy, Linda Gould, and John Lee and Joe Hatherill.

Camp artistic director Dave Flello, a longtime band teacher and local musician, brought the idea to the society a couple of years back, suggesting that it could enhance its mission of enriching the local arts through participation. To that end, the week-long series of classes will cover topics ranging from theory, improvising and playing by ear, to song writing and jazz history.

Related: Camp offers all that jazz

As well, many performance opportunities emerge for participants, from playing in a combo or vocal ensemble to jazz orchestra. The goal, U-JAM states, is to give students of all abilities the opportunity to make music together in ensembles small and large and improve their musical skills, including improvising and jamming.

The initial camp was a resounding success, with participants traveling from as far away as Saskatchewan to attend.

New this year is an evening festival concert series, planned around the theme “West Coast Influences.” These public concerts will feature Oliver, LaRiviere, Adams and Hurn and their groups and take place at Hermann’s Jazz Club and St. Margaret’s.

Also new is a scholarship program available for deserving students, and lodging is available for out-of-town attendees.

Camp pricing and registration information, as well as details about U-JAM can be found at u-jam.ca.

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