A couple of days ago was the first full day of the Lindy Focus jazz dance camp. I picked up a guest pass for their music track classes and have been enjoying sitting in and watching Ben Polcer and his staff from Welbourne Jazz Camp (Jason Jurzak, Benji Bohannon, Aurora Nealand, Lucian Cobb, and Russel Welch) teach and play.
Most of what they are covering deal with playing traditional jazz or swing for dancers, and many of the students here came for the dancing and are taking “add on” classes in music too. Others are here specifically for the music track, but many of those musicians are also dancers.
Even though I knew to expect there to be musicians around at this dance camp, I was surprised to see how many of the dancers are also musicians and brought instruments to jam. Sessions seem to spring up pretty regularly and walked from one room to hear a crowd of musicians around a piano jamming on New Orleans jazz into another room where some folks were playing gypsy jazz and singing. There’s an overall sense in that making music, like swing dancing, is something that is supposed to be participatory, not separated into performers and audience.
The staff really knows the music very well and are great at getting their points across, even in some of the larger classes with musicians of mixed abilities. They’ve been emphasizing learning tunes and concepts by ear yet at the same time teach the music theory. They also play for and with the students a lot.
There are a couple of more days left in this year’s Lindy Focus, but my impressions at this point are that the first music track has been quite successful and has been definitely worth my effort to sit in on. Semi-professional and amateur musicians interested in traditional jazz would definitely get a lot out of this music track, if they decide to host the music track again for 2014.