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UC San Diego Jazz Camp Celebrates 15 Years


To commemorate its 15th anniversary, Jazz Camp at the University of California San Diego is teaming up with award-winning trumpeter and Jazz Camp instructor Gilbert Castellanos for a special Young Lions Series performance that will feature alumni of the Jazz Camp under the leadership of vocalist Zion Dyson.

The free concert is being held on March 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Panama 66 in Balboa Park. The aim of the Young Lions series is to showcase young jazz musicians by giving them a weekly opportunity to perform at one of San Diego’s premier music venues.

The internationally recognized UC San Diego Jazz Camp is designed to offer students an intensive one-week immersion in jazz through one-on-one sessions, small group instruction and an opportunity to perform for a live audience. Unlike other jazz camps, UC San Diego’s camp covers a remarkable variety of styles, from bebop to contemporary to cutting edge.

Dan Atkinson, director of Jazz Camp, said program has helped elevate the local jazz scene and inspired new generations of jazz musicians.

“Since our first year in 2003, the camp has brought a national level of jazz education to students from the San Diego area, as well as from more than 30 states and 10 foreign countries. Alumni from earlier years like Joshua White, Chloe Feoranzo and Graham Dechter are now making a mark on the national jazz scene. And many local players have been enriched through their experience with the program.”

Castellanos agreed, saying his ability to play with and mentor Jazz Camp students has become an important part of his mission.

“Getting the opportunity to work with students was my biggest joy,” said Castellanos. “The camp opened my eyes to the importance of the subject and that it needs to be taught year round.”

David Morales Boroff, former student, current senior at Berklee College of Music and professional musician describes his experience attending the camp during summer 2011 with helping him discover his musical talents.

“I went to the camp when I was 17 and was assigned to play violin in an ensemble run by Anthony Davis. He was perfect, with a tremendous vision in shaping what I had to offer,” Boroff said. “Through him, I was inducted into the UC San Diego music scene and was surrounded by people whose job it seemingly was to constantly blow my mind. I am eternally grateful to Jazz Camp.”

Zion Dyson, a 15-year-old who will lead this Young Lions event, attended her first camp last summer and rose to the challenge of mastering music by UC San Diego music professor and internationally-known bassist Mark Dresser.

“I loved the challenge of being in Mark Dresser’s ensemble and worked so hard perfecting those tunes whenever I got the chance,” she said. “I was introduced to such a wide variety of musicians, and I always left the class feeling so inspired. This camp has allowed me to feel much more comfortable and confident with my musical abilities and my own voice.”

In addition to the core faculty of a dozen leading artists such as Castellanos, Charles McPherson, Holly Hofmann, Michael Dessen, Peter Sprague, Joshua White, Mike Wofford, Mark Dresser and Rob Thorsen, this year the camp will have four special guests who are among the top international artists in jazz: Anat Cohen, Eric Reed, Edward Simon and Matt Wilson.