Widgets Magazine

Stanford Jazz Workshop holds 40th season

This summer marked the Stanford Jazz Workshop’s 40th season and included 36 different concerts as well as the annual jazz educational camps.

Current executive and artistic director Jim Nadel ’72, also a lecturer in music, founded the Workshop after graduating from Stanford. According to Nadel, the series of festivals and educational programs started out as a “jam session” on Mondays and an additional meeting on Tuesdays for jazz musicians.

The Stanford Jazz Workship celebrates its 40th season this summer. (CHANEL ZHAN/The Stanford Daily)

Since then, Nadel said the organization has greatly expanded but carries on the purpose of the jam sessions: the exchange of ideas and techniques in jazz.

Marketing director Ernie Rideout said that most of the concerts this season attracted diverse audiences.

“Many of our concerts this year have been close to selling out,” Rideout said.

Over the last 40 seasons, the workshop has experienced various changes. Aside from increasing the number of events, Rideout said the scope of the music at the festival has also broadened.

“We are branching into other kinds of music that incorporate improvised music, world music, for example, Brazilian music, Colombian music, Cuban music,” he said.

In addition to the festivals, the workshop offers several jazz educational programs. According to its website, the organization puts on evening summer classes, a jazz camp for children as well as a jazz residency for adults.

Rideout added that while the teachers perform in concerts, students in the programs have the opportunity to enjoy the festivals, giving them a kind of “jazz immersion.”

“You come here [to the camps]–it’s all jazz, all day, from nine in the morning until midnight every night,” he said.

Despite the changes in the Workshop, Rideout said that the jazz camps maintain a few traditions such as the James Brown Memorial Ice Cream Social and the Summer Workshop All-Star Jam Session, when faculty from the camps perform.

The Workshop is a nonprofit separate from the University and is funded by donations, ticket sales and camp registration fees. However, Nadel said, it collaborates with the University in different ways–for example, by lending equipment and partnering with groups like Lively Arts.

“[The Stanford Jazz Workshop] also become a kind of laboratory for testing some ideas that are used,” Nadel said. If a particular performer or teaching method stands out, the Workshop will sometimes recommend it to the Music Department.

Despite the world music and the wide audiences the Workshop brings to campus, the festival keeps a local connection by showcasing many local jazz performers.

“We’re definitely all about building the community here on the campus at Stanford,” Rideout said. “And we want to include as many of the community members as possible.”