Home AboutMark Shermans BlogMy life, my music, my family, my spirit, and everything I live for.August 10, 2011Orsara Jazz Camp and FestivalPosted by Mark Sherman under Antonio Ciacca, Jazz At Lincoln Center, jazz bass, jazz club, jazz drums,jazz education, jazz guitar, Jazz in Europe, Jazz In italy, JAZZ IN NEW YORK, jazz innovation, Jazzperformance, Jazz Piano, Jazz Saxophone, Jazz trumpet, Jazz Vibes, Jerry Bergonzi, Jim Rotundi, JoeFarnsworth, John Webber, Juilliard Jazz, Lincoln Center, Lucio Ferrara, Mark Sherman, Mark Sherman inItaly, Mark Sherman Quartet, miles high records, New England Conservatory, Original music, OrsaraJazz Festival, Practicing Jazz, Practicing music, Studio Music, The Juilliard School, Uncategorized | Tags:Antonio Ciacca, bass, drums, Italian jazz, Jazz, Jazz at Lincoln Center, jazz education, Jazz in FoggiaItaly, Jerry Bergonzi, Jim Rotundi, Joe Farnsworth, John Webber, Juilliard, Lucio Ferrara, Mark Sherman,New York studio scene, Orsara Jazz Festival, performers, Teaching Jazz, Vibraphone |Leave a CommentThe Orsara Jazz Festival Faculty BandI had just an amazing week in Orsara Italy from August 2-7. The faculty and band for the festival wasJerry Bergonzi, Jim Rotundi, Mark Sherman, Antonio Ciacca, Lucio Ferrara, John Webber, and JoeFarnsworth. Everyday we taught workshops, private lessons, and ran combos for 100 students at thecamp. At night there were concerts, and all night jam sessions, and of course the food as usual in Italy isamazing. We ate incredible meals every night and lots of wine. I am not a huge drinker, but it isimpossible to turn down. In fact if you try to say, “no thanks I don’t want any”, people look at you likeyour nuts. Anyway, I want to say something about each faculty musician individually.Jerry Bergonzi is a musician, and saxophonist who I personally have looked up for many years.Especially since the death of my colleague Michael Brecker, Jerry is certainly the closest living sax playerto Coltrane. Clearly he is deeply influenced by Coltrane, and of course all the great masters on hisinstrument. He has a deep understanding of the language, a fat fat sound on tenor sax, and the heart ofgiant. Deeply sensitive, and in touch with all the positive, and negative things happening in the worldtoday. I truly enjoyed bonding with Jerry, and of course sharing the bandstand, and the music with him.
He is gentle giant in the music, and his presence made it a very special week for me. It was really anhonor, and I look forward to touring with him next year in a quartet setting.Jim Rotundi is trumpet player that I certainly knew of as he has a huge reputation as a great player, but Ihad never really worked with him on the bandstand. It was great to meet him and play quartet with him ona separate concert in Foggia Italy sponsored by the festival. Jim is a humble, yet powerful player withincredible technique, and sound. And of course his language, and solo concept comes straight from theheart. I consider him one of the best trumpet players in the world. In addition he is a great guy, whoclearly cared about the students, and bonding with all the musicians. A great guy to have on thebandstand, or on the road. Currently he is a professor of trumpet in Graz Austria, where he has relocated,and surely is bringing his genius to that program.Antonio Ciacca is a truly fine pianist, arranger, and composer, and it was because of Antonio’srecommendation that I was chosen as a teacher, and performer at the Orsara Jazz Festival. I am quitegrateful for this. Heavily influenced by all the bebop piano masters like Bud Powell, Sonny Clarke,Tommy Flanagan, Red Garland, Oscar Peterson etc. Antonio and his wife Giusy have for many yearsbeen on the forefront of the jazz world as they together have a jazz booking agency call C-Jamproductions, and have promoted many huge jazz concerts, and tours with the likes of Elvin Jones and theJazz Machine, and many others. Because of Antonio’s extensive knowledge of the music history, andbusiness, he was chosen by Wynton Marsalis to be the director of programming for Jazz At LincolnCenter in New York City for the last 5 years. He is also on the Juilliard faculty with me, where he teachesthe business of music. These days however Antonio is all about playing as he has stepped up toperforming, and composing full-time. On Saturday August 6th the faculty band of the Orsara Jazz Festivalplayed a work Antonio wrote specifically for the festival, entitled “The Orsara Suite”, in which eachmusician was featured in a movement. A well-calculated work with great purpose that gave each of usmany solos on all the movements, but between each movement each one of us had an extended solofeature. We rehearsed it several times during the week, culminating with a kick ass performance, andrecording of the Suite on the Saturday night concert on the big stage. It was mobbed with maybe 1500-2000 people as we ripped through this piece. Antonio used a composing technique that we all often apply,in which he takes well-known tunes like “Woody And You”, or “Like Sonny”, and changes the melody,and or chord changes a bit, and turns it into his own version. It is quite effective, and of course we all hada ball playing this extended suite. It has been my great pleasure to work with, and befriend Antonio sinceI recently met him at the beginning of last school year at The Juilliard School. He is a fine musician.Lucio Ferrara guitarist, and director of the Orsara festival has only recently become one of mycolleagues. He is a fine guitarist, influenced heavily by guitar master Wes Montgomery, and truly plays asif he loves the music deeply. On Friday night August 5th Jim Rotundi, and myself were driven about 30minutes away from Orsara to the city of Foggia, where we played quartet with Luca Santaniello, and JoeLa Piore, two fine Italian jazz players currently living in New York. Lucio played trio with Luca, and Joebefore Jim, and I did our quartet segment of the evening’s festivities. I loved the deeply rooted bebopapproach that Lucio takes towards the music. Much like my close friend and colleague Rodney Jones whoalso comes out of Wes Montgomery, and Kenny Burrell. What better place to come from as a jazzguitarist today. As a director Lucio did an incredible job managing, and administrating the day to dayactivities of the festival, as his cell phone never stopped ringing, as with 100 students, and the faculty hehad to constantly deal with many issues that had nothing to do with playing the music, but when it wastime to play Lucio really sounded great. A crisp clear sound, with great command of the jazz language.John Webber is clearly one of the finest bass players around having performed with just about every bigname in the business. I know him from his work the great tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. I reallyenjoyed hanging with John as he has a great sense of humor, and many great stories of his experienceshaving played with Benny Golson, George Coleman, Cecil Payne, Pharaoh Sanders Jon Hendriks, and listof jazz masters that goes on and on. He plays immaculately in tune with a great feel that sends themessage of authentic jazz. Flat out a fun guy to have around. His playing made me feel very comfortablewhich I see as the goal of any musician. When you walk into a playing situation make those around you
feel comfortable. John quietly does a great job of just that.Joe Farnsworth is a drummer deeply rooted in the tradition of jazz. As a drummer myself having studiedwith Elvin Jones as a youngster, I am always in touch with what the drummer along side of me is doing. IfI can swing harder than the drummer on the bandstand, then it is the wrong guy. Joe is absolutely the rightguy, super experienced having played with many of the same jazz masters that John Webber has playedwith in Eric Alexander, George Coleman, Junior Cook, Johnny Griffin, Pharaoh Sanders, and the list goeson. Actually the two of them are truly a great combination. They fit together stylistically like a glove. Joesounds to me as if you mixed Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, and Elvin Jones all together. He clearly lovesto play as do all of us, but when you mix the three drummers styles together that I just mentioned you getmagic. Joe is an original player that creates that authentic sound of jazz. A fun guy who deeply loves themusic. He is just a ball to play and hang with.Saturday morning before the big concert I did a solo vibraphone concert in an unbelievably beautiful1000-year-old church in Orsara. The acoustics, and the physical setting were enough to make one see god.I played solo versions of “Along Came Betty”, “My One And Only Love”, “Celia”, and one of myoriginals entitled “Solitude”. I felt it was a very spiritual and motivating performance for me as 50-70people showed and listened very eagerly to what I brought musically.I look forward to returning to the Orsara Jazz Festival and jazz camp for years to come. It was anincredibly motivating, and rewarding musical week.Jerry Bergonzi