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Trumpet Bootcamp gives students a different perspective

Besides the larger jazz camps where many different instruments are played, Ottawa also supports several camps devoted to players of a single instrument. This week, it's the turn of the trumpet.

Trumpet Bootcamp will present trumpeters in many combinations, from duets to large ensembles, in its free jazz and classical concerts this week on Thursday and Friday evenings in the Patrick Cardy Studio at Carleton University. ©Brett Delmage, 2014

This is the sixth year that Nick Dyson has run his Trumpet Bootcamp at Alcorn Music Studios. The camp, from August 15 to 19, is a chance for young trumpeters to get up to speed before the school year – and its free student concerts will provide music lovers a chance to hear trumpets in different combinations.

“It's not your typical jazz camp, because we cover both jazz and classical music,” Dyson told OttawaJazzScene.ca. “It's more about fundamental trumpet playing and music making.”

In jazz, trumpets are heard in big bands in packs of three or four, and singly in combos along with other instruments. But the trumpet is also featured in classical music, including in chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras.

Dyson is keeping both jazz and classical music “on equal footing” at the camp, he said, “because it's not about jazz music, it's not about classical music – it's about trumpet, and the way that the trumpet fits in to that [music]. I try to blur the lines as much as possible.”

This year, he said, eight students, ranging in age from 14 to 18, are attending the camp. It has an intimate vibe, he said, with three instructors, with both classical and jazz backgrounds.

Over the years Dyson has run the camp, he said he's learned a lot. “Every year is a learning experience. A lot of education is seeing what the students take away from it. So something that seems like a good idea a lot of the time just doesn't get across to the kids, and then it ends up being something more simpler conceptually, so that it speaks to them and reaches them.”

Originally, this year's camp was billed as a Brass Bootcamp, with trombone and other brass instruction also offered. But there just wasn't enough interest among trombonists, Dyson said, to include that instrument.

On Thursday, August 18, the students will present their jazz recital, supported by the rhythm section of local jazz group The Beeched Wailers (which Dyson is a member of). The following evening, they will present a classical recital. Both shows are free, and will be held at 7 p.m. in the Patrick Cardy Studio (Room A900, Loeb Building) at Carleton University.

At the jazz concert, the students will perform some standards arranged for trumpet ensemble and rhythm section, he said. “It's just nice to get that number of players up all playing the same tune, playing “Killer Joe” or “Take the 'A' Train”.”

But most of that public performance will consist of two trumpeters playing a tune together with the rhythm section, playing duets “over the chord changes to that song, so they can get more familiar and get some more ideas and inspiration for things that they could try to play. And then let each of the students take solos, and practically apply the information they've been learning all week.”

“The concerts themselves aren't actually set up as your typical concert, where there's a set program or a theme. The theme is trumpet. I'm not picking music that's best for the audience. I'm picking music that's best for the students because they come first. If we end up doing all ballads, because that's what we need, then that's what we'll do.”

Dyson expected he would also play a few numbers at the concert with trumpeter Nick Cochrane and the Beeched Wailers' rhythm section (drummer Michel Delage, bassist Tom McMahon, and guitarist Alex Tompkins), including some Wailers' songs.

At the classical concert, the instructors will play some classical trumpet pieces, accompanied by Matthew Larkin on piano. For the students, “there's a wide variety of trumpet ensemble literature, all the way from trios, quartets, and on up – including the full meal deal, all the students and all the faculty all playing together. It should be an interesting sound! Ten or twelve trumpet players, playing the same thing, that's powerful.”

The classical trumpet music may include everything from chorales and transcriptions of string quartets – including by Bach and Mozart – “up to contemporary ensemble literature that's been written very recently”.

During the week, students learn all the different trumpet parts in the jazz and classical pieces, Dyson said. “Then eventually as you cycle through and you get back to where you were originally, then you know everybody else's part that much better, and you can make music a lot stronger or more assertively, because you know what everybody else is dealing with and how all the parts fit together.”

The camp provides a perspective that the students wouldn't see in other ensembles like school bands, he said, and “shows them that they really can play for eight hours a day and still have face”.

– Alayne McGregor

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