The intercollegiate intercultural A-JAM PROGRAM is open--by audition--to students from any of San Antonio's five Alamo Colleges. Auditions are held each November. During the spring semester, the A-JAM combo performs locally and is coached by regional professionals and visiting artists. One grand prize recipient is invited to the annual meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) in late June or early July, where s/he performs with fellow students from all over the world for one intensive week. The meetings are hosted by a different school each year. Singer Jeané Gaines, Northwest Vista College, participated in the IASJ meeting in São Paulo, Brazil in 2011 as the first A-JAM grand prize winner. You could be next!

IASJ Meeting 2011

IASJ Meeting 2011
IASJ Meeting, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2011 (Look for Jeane)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Memories of Cape Town - IASJ International Jazz Meeting 2014

WATCH THIS YOU-TUBEGerry Hemingway, hugely talented drummer and inquiring musical mind, created a short video with highlights of some of the South African music we heard and learned about in Cape Town, as part of the 2014 IASJ international jazz meeting. Amazing stuff! Could be you next year, in Lisbon... :-)

And here's a snap shot of the IASJ singer women from the meeting. Surrounded by our talented students, the three teachers-performers are in the top row, middle: Jenny Robson (Sibelius Academy, Helsinki) top, second from left, Katchie Cartwright (Northwest Vista College A-JAM, San Antonio) center, and Joana Bettencourt (Hot Club of Portugal, Lisbon), second from right.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Improv Prerequisite for A-JAM 2015!

Yearning to be the A-JAM rep to the IASJ international jazz meeting in Portugal in June of 2015? "Now's the Time" to start preparing...

We'll hold auditions right before Thanksgiving, as usual, but this year there is a new wrinkle. There is a new preqrequisite, which is designed to prepare you better for the spring combo rehearsals, and reduce the improv fear factor...

In order to join the A-JAM combo in spring of 2015, you must have successfully completed a basic course in improvisation, which will be offered in the fall.

The course you need to register for is MUAP 1185 - PRIVATE IMPROVISATION. It will be held at Vista on Wednesdays at 12:30 PM. Students may take it at the campus of their choice, however, as available. Alamo Colleges students can enroll now!

The fall 2014 improvisation class will be introductory, including chord-scale theory and its applications. Instructor permission is required. For more information, contact Katchie Cartwright, 210-486-4828 or Dan Smith 210-486-4818.

A required text for the course will be David Berkman's "Jazz Musician's Guide to Creative Practicing." Why not buy a copy now and get a good head start?

PS: If your basic piano skills are lacking, why not take piano lessons during the summer to get a head start on that? Or sharpen your skills by taking lessons on your main instrument. Summer is a great time for catching up on things you're too busy to do during the academic year. Join a jazz jam session or create a session at your home or a friend's. Learn tunes, have fun... :-)

Jazz Contrafacts - More Than Just Rhythm!

What's a contrafact? "In jazz, a melody built upon the chord progression of another piece (after contrafactum, in medieval and Renaissance music." - Grove Music Online (Oxford Music Online)

Many bebop and other types of contrafacts are based on very popular tunes from earlier eras. If you're developing jazz repertoire, it's a good idea to learn the original melodies as well as the contrafact compositions.

The most famous example is the entire genre we call "rhythm" tunes. These are all contrafacts on Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm." There are hundreds of examples.

To get started, check out this useful little list of jazz contrafacts from Wikipedia.

For example, Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" is based on Vincent Rose's "Whispering. There are scores of others. Check them out!

Some YouTube clips...
Here's a classic performance of "Groovin' High" by Charlie Parker and Gillespie in 1945.  Here's "Whispering" from Red Nichols and His Five Pennies in 1928. A beautiful vocal version of "Whispering" from Harry Belafonte. And a twangy and fun instrumental of "Whispering" from Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1951. Top it off with a quodlibet of "Groovin' High" and "Whispering" together with Phil Woods, Frank Wess, and Jon Faddis with the Barcelona Big Band. (And what's a quodlibet? You can look that one up yourself! :-)

Saturday, April 19, 2014


It's time for the Vista Spring Music Fest!

Two evenings of student ensembles, soloists, and student-led combos has now grown to two glorious weeks of events. At the heart of the festival are concerts on Wednesday, April 23 and Thursday, April 24, which feature classical music and jazz. We hope you'll join us in celebration our talented students and supporting the A-JAM program!

Wednesday, April 23 - RENAISSANCE TO THE 21ST CENTURY!
Thursday, April 24 - THE MANY COLORS OF JAZZ
Palmetto Recital Hall 107, 7:30 pm
Tickets : $4 General Admission

PROGRAM 1 - WEDNESDAY presents the Concert Choir, Instrumental Chamber Ensemble, and outstanding student soloists in a program spanning centuries and idioms, from the 13th to the 21st centuries, from Europe to the Americas.

PROGRAM 2 - THURSDAY presents the Vista Jazz Ensemble, A-JAM honors combo, and student-led jazz combos in a program of jazz standards and original compositions by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Charlie Parker, Ellen Rowe, Miles Davis, and Fats Waller, among others. 

All proceeds benefit the A-JAM Alamo Jazz Allstars Mentorship honors program, which sponsors an international learning experience for one lucky and talented student each year. Enjoy the concerts while you help support this worthy program by sending a student to Portugal next year for the IASJ International Jazz Meeting

Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College
3535 North Ellison (Wiseman @ Hwy 151)
210-486-4527 box office

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vista Faculty Jazz Ensemble - A-JAM Benefit!

The Vista Faculty Jazz Ensemble performs its semi-annual concert to benefit A-JAM on Monday, April 14 at 7 PM in the Recital Hall (107) of the Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College.

The stellar line-up features Al Gomez, trumpet; Morgan King, saxophone; Robynn Amy, trombone; Aaron Prado, piano; Jim Kalson, electric bass; Zlatan Redzic, double bass; Joe Caploe, drums, and Katchie Cartwright, voice.

Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College now has a distinguished jazz faculty who teach all of the major jazz instruments. This is a huge boon to students in the A-JAM program. You have opportunities to listen to and learn from all of these first-rate musician-teachers. The program aims to bring one of our adjunct faculty to the International Association of Jazz Education's IASJ international jazz meeting in Portugal in 2015.  

Where funds allow, the organization encourages member schools to bring three people to each meeting: a student, a member of the applied faculty, and a school representative. 

This unique mix of generations, nationalities, and musical backgrounds promotes a round trip culture of cooperation that extends beyond the annual jazz intensive, sometimes engendering milestone professional collaborations.

These meetings--and their preparation--can affect the San Antonio jazz community significantly, not only through local education at the community college level, but also through exposure to--and the opportunity to create friendships with--peers from all over the world. This is our only fundraiser for this specific purpose. Come and bring friends and family! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This blog's a resource!

Dearest A-JAMmies and interested parties!

Please use this blog as a resource. I've been posting items of  interest here for years. And the blog enables searching through of my posts. Use it! It contains lots of pertinent information.

For example, if you want to understand what "rhythm changes" are, just search the word "rhythm" within the blog. There are LOTS of links you can follow. Use it or lose it...