We normally wouldn't print a testimonial of this length, but Bruce Henderson, a wonderful guy who attended Jazz at Naz in 2011, really captured the spirit of what we try to do at Tritone. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. (Made us blush, too!)
I am sure you are receiving many responses of feedback as allowed by the forms you provided. My feedback is simple. From my perspective, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies. I should stop here, but I can't. I "gotta explain."
Would you please forward this email, in its entirety, to the faculty for me?
Every aspect of my recent camp experience, from early arrival to departure, was positive. I take my musical development seriously, and Tritone Fantasy Camp exceeded my expectations. The camp provides an ideal balance of social interaction, education, and the creation of the best music a camp has to offer. It manages to accomplish this in an atmosphere of a relaxed, comfortable schedule wherein each camper makes his own decisions as to which class (or classes) to attend. Although the camp is structured, this flexibility allows the camper to avail him or herself to any of the great classes and music experiences provided. In my case, this was extremely valuable. The opportunity to "gig out" in a public venue was an exciting bonus!
After attending the first Gordon Goodwin Jazz Camp, followed by four consecutive years at Aebersold, I can say, at least from my perspective, Tritone has become my first choice for a summer vacation/jazz education experience.
Many campers were impressed that the big band learned five charts in four days, performed on Thursday night, and had a blast. Clay Jenkins was absolutely marvelous as director, and my dreams literally came true when I found myself playing first tenor in the company of so many fantastic musicians. Clay's approach to directing was spot-on, positive, accurate, and effective. His energy, skills, and attitude were major driving forces behind our success. What a great guy and great musician!
Ike Sturm was exemplary, providing us with a combo experience that not only taught, but actually trained us to use our senses and to communicate more effectively with each other in our music. It was a dream come true - to participate in an all-adult combo, directed by a skilled, talented, wonderful human being who has a gift for helping developing musicians. As you already know, Ike is one heck of a nice family man, infusing the experience with expertise and his contagious enthusiasm. Again, what a thrill to be taught by, and play with, the very guy who composed Jazz Mass! Heck, I bought a cd from him on the spot! I will visit his church sometime within the year.
The theory class, taught by the inimitable Jim Doser, was, without doubt, the single best theory class I have attended. His system, understanding of the learning process of non-majors like myself, and clear, concise explanations were outstanding. What a great personality, great instructor/performer, and great person. Jim was able to identify and describe the essential components of improv and theory in such a way that it became practical, rather than merely theoretical. Like the other faculty, he also greeted campers by name, making us feel that we were "included" in the "family". This is one characteristic that you won't find in the larger camps.
Dariusz Terefenko's piano class was one of my choices as an "option", given that I have played piano for years, although only by "ear", and with very limited technical facility. Dariusz presented an absolutely fantastic approach to teaching that caught and held my attention every single minute. His entire teaching style was wonderful, and he demonstrated, just as Jim had in his classes, each critical element, for us to see and hear. I was thrilled to learn how to practice and what to practice, and was motivated to continue to develop keyboard skills. Dariusz was so supportive, even for my beginning level of expertise, and this is something that I had not experienced in any prior camp. Dariusz is also very communicative and socially adept, perhaps unusual in someone so cognitively advanced! As a piano enthusiast, I was of course listening to his expert playing during the concerts. If I lived in your area, I would be begging to purchase classes and/or individual lessons from Dariusz!
Darmon Meader, an absolutely astounding sax player, vocalist, and arranger, added so much to the camp experience! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Darmon, experience his performances, and to listen to his ideas about music, the industry, and music education. I hope his schedule allows him to return next year. His combo class members were effusive with praise relative to his approach to vocal and jazz training, and the results of his class were obvious in the combo performances. Darmon was very supportive and involved in the development of his students, and this was particularly obvious to all of the campers. What a thrill to experience Darmon as a person and as an artist! I hope he chooses to return next year.
Kristen Shiner-McGuire was the ultimate choice for a first-class, first-class-of-the-day experience. What a fantastic, energetic, sincere, wonderful woman is Kristen. Her classes were extremely useful in promoting awareness of rhythms and beats. She also was available for any specific questions and concerns outside of class, and she is another marvelous human being with an inner spirit of love and support that underlies any great musician. Her command of that drumset was obvious, even though we did not get to see her play very much! My goal for next year is to encourage her to play some mallet 'stuff' for us as well.
I did get to introduce myself to Rich Thompson, to tell him how impressed I am with his drumset skills and musicianship. Another great guy! He plays so well, and I am sure anyone in his classes is a fortunate student. He has a "real personality" and it shows in his expert and expressive playing style.
Mark Kellogg's playing was fantastic, but I did not get a chance to talk with him! I played high school trombone, but his high level of expertise makes it sound like a totally different instrument from the one I played. I could hear the classical and the jazz styles embodied in his sound, which was, again, fantastic and soaring. His tone production alone is worth the price of admission!
Gene Bertoncini, with his fame, his accomplishments, and his expertise, is one of the warmest, kindest human beings on the planet. His concert performances, his personality, and his very presence made the entire camp experience even more worthwhile. He literally brought some of us to tears with his Skylark accompaniment and solo work, and having Darmon's treatment of the song just made it all the more dazzling. To experience two masters perform this great song was beyond description. Gene's sense of humor is also evident, as is his compelling, infectious zest for life. His combo class, and the entire camp, love him dearly and have a very deep respect for his skills as a musician. I honestly think Gene will remember me, even next year, and that means a great deal to me.
Tom Hampson is obviously an expert regarding jazz history, performers, performances, and personalities. His listening class provided me with some tunes I had not heard, even as a frequent flyer of Real Jazz and the Sinatra Channel on XM Radio. I enjoyed the Basie evening particularly, and wish I had had more energy at 3 PM to attend every one of his classes. Tom is also very approachable, and he was quite responsive to questions and comments from campers. His class adds a lot to camp, and I look forward to speaking with him again next year. Yet another "great guy" in this world of Tritone.
Finally,Bob DeRosa. Bob, you were my first contact, and although we only interacted via email, I immediately sensed that you are a past master at organization, marketing, sincerity, and that you have a great grasp of human beings. Your communication skills are advanced, and you are a constant organizational force. Your response to my inquiries was the major reason I decided to attend Tritone's Jazz at Naz. The camp, without you, would not be what it is. You are constantly watching, asking questions, being helpful, and making efforts to make sure each camper has a positive experience. I have to say, I think you are also a great guy, and your skills are obvious. The fact that you are also an accomplished musician adds to your effectiveness. You have achieved meaningful success in life that many others would envy, and your personality is first-rate!
In summary, my "after-camp reflections" include the fact that I feel that I have made some new and perhaps lasting friendships, with fellow campers, who also made this experience spectacular, and with some accomplished, professional musicians and educators whom I admire so much. I want to emphasize just how important your efforts are - you impact the lives of the campers who have the opportunity to experience Jazz at Naz. Your approaches are very effective in encouraging us to practice, to grow, and to return next year.
Thanks to each of you from the bottom of my heart.
Your Friend in Jazz,
Tritone Jazz Camp was a marvelous experience, full of musical opportunity and growth. I was able to play in both big band and combo, plus well organized, staff-directed jam sessions. The exemplary staff, including Darmon Meader, were all friendly, approachable, helpful and available. The trombone master class with Mark Kellogg (and Jim Martin) was a real growth experience that I look forward to repeating. I finished the week feeling musically fulfilled and my talents appreciated. Too bad there isn't a Tritone camp every year. Oh, there is!! I'll be back next year.
- Jim Nichols, Trombonist
There's nowhere else I would rather be than Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camp in gorgeous Baileys Harbor, WI. We have the best professional musician/educators to be found in the USA to help us up our game and be better players and human beings.
- Carolyn Jackson, Pianist
A great experience! Faculty has done a tremendous job in creating an environment for all levels of musician interested in playing jazz.
Lots of actual playing is done as well as instrumental master classes, jazz theory, and schmoozing with pros who are more than happy to divulge the secrets of their craft.
The big band wails, The combos groove, and the jam sessions last until the wee hours. During the week good friends are made and we all look forward to seeing return campers and meeting new ones.
Oh yeah, the food - a "10" on the "Taste-O-Meter."
- Joe Tondu, Trumpeter
Whether you're a beginner or a semi-pro, you can't help but grow at Tritone - and have fun doing it! I can't believe the difference in my singing!
Where else can an amateur musician spend a full week with professionals who generously give their non-judgmental advice, coaching and support-all for the love of music?!
- Blair Marks, Vocalist
The faculty are so supportive and encouraging. The camp feels very collegial. It's a very nurturing environment while being challenging.
- Tim McNamara, Guitarist
Tritone offers the guitarist the opportunity to sit at the feet of one of the instrument's true giants. The chance to experience up close the genius of Gene Bertoncini, and his entertaining, soft-touch approach to guitar coaching cannot be rivaled. And then there's the rest of the faculty who are equally inspiring and supportive.
- Joe Marks, Guitarist
Tritone wasn't what I expected. It was way more than I expected. I expected to play a lot, and we did. But I didn't expect to make great new friends, meet and hang out with great, A-list players, and have amazing faculty performances every night. Well done - the best in its class!
- Jeff Dalton, Bassist
Top musicians - great coaching environment. Everyone cares about music, takes joy in it, and cares about executing at the top of our game - now and later.
- Anne Miner, Vocalist
"If jazz were food, Tritone would be a sumptuous feast."
- John Barrett, trombonist, pianist, attorney
"These camps get better every year. The faculty is accessible and generous with their time. They artfully combine theoretical knowledge with creative insight. I always learn a number of things which are immediately useable."
- Richie Spees, clarinetist, psychiatrist
"This week has become my prerequisite for a fulfilling year. Thank you--keep it going!"
- Lisa Roti, singer
"As a first-year jazz camper, I was so nervous coming here with only a classical piano background. I soon found an open, supportive, affirming faculty and a group of campers that soon put me at ease and launched me into an exciting week of a new style of music. I definitely will make this a yearly musical experience."
- Dian Korb, pianist
"What a rich experience! Thoughtful and articulate faculty, practical instruction, and--most important--joyful! I can't wait to go home and use some of the many terrific ideas I got out of this week."
- Dawson Taylor, vocalist, guitarist, attorney
"I thoroughly enjoyed my week at Tritone. To say it was educational and musically inspiring is truly an understatement. It was downright therapeutic!"
- Dino D'Onofrio, drummer and optometrist
"Warm, supportive atmosphere...world-class instruction. Learn and play at a level you never thought possible. An unforgetable experience."
- Laurence Skopitz, clarinetist and rabbi
"A joyful learning experience!"
- Clem Biddle, singer/trumpeter
"The first year was an experience. Every subsequent year is a reunion!"
- John Goodman, drummer, owner of the Center for Internal Change--www.internalchange.com
"A totally immersed-in-jazz experience with internationally famous faculty and low student-to-faculty ratios. I recommend it."
- Linda Reeder, pianist
"This has been a wonderfully supportive environment. Working with Janet Planet continues to help me to grow and love singing. Janet is an inspiration."
- Barbara Levy Daniels, professional singer and psychotherapist
"In three days I learned more than I had in two years with another instructor. Fabulous!"
- Maggie Mullen, vocalist
"I've been here for five straight sessions and have enjoyed the experience each session."
- E. Bud Nelson, drummer
"Exceeded expectations...superior faculty. Combo experience was challenging in just the right way to take you to the next level...."
- John Pachter, trombonist, attorney
"The faculty is knowledgeable, supportive and understanding. You will find a lifetime of inspiration--an absolutely terrific time!"
- Michael Mazza, pianist, English teacher
"They call it a 'fantasy' camp. It's not just a fancy name. Your jazz fantasy does come true."
- Drew Fase, singer, pianist, customs broker
"The instruction provided by Gene Bertoncini was invaluable. He is completely open about sharing his vast knowledge of the guitar and his ideas for studying the instrument are limitless."
- Doug Switzer, architect, guitarist
"It's my favorite week of the year."
- Tom Lange, bassist and gizmologist
"I feel if I paid three times as much, it would still be a bargain! (But please don't take that too seriously!) This has been a life-changing experience for me. Thank you -- see you next year."
- Gail Heerdt, reed player
"A terrific experience! I learned an enormous amount in a week."
- Marcia Elwitt, pianist
"Man, was I low after leaving Bjorklunden! It took me three days to get back to normal. Thanks for the high--you guys really know how to kick it up!! I'm all inspired now to get to the things I really want to accomplish in music. Janet (Planet) is a marvelous music educator...she doesn't just "teach"; she inspires her students with a wonderful philosophy! I think that's what you are all about!"
- John Scaduto, vocalist
"I loved Gene (Bertoncini) and the accessibility of the teachers..There was such a benevolent, caring atmosphere -- (Tritone) has created a verdant field for musicians to bud in, and you three men are fine people. It was my privilege to meet you."
- Patti Loach, pianist
"I feel prepared for graduate school. I did some great networking. Rich (Thompson) is superb!"
- Jason Kruk, drummer
"I definitely lived my fantasy -- and I loved every minute of it. Thanks."
- Abby Chodoff, vocalist
"You guys are the heroes -- GIANTS in my eyes as far as talent and knowledge and experience -- but also capable of reaching me at my beginning level. I'm very grateful for your generous presentation (and I will be back!)"
- Liz Sivertson, saxophonist
"I found everything about the Tritone camp to be first rate. I had a wonderful time and feel I have really improved my playing. I have also been given tools that will help me keep improving for some time to come.... The atmosphere was encouraging and supportive. This was such a well-thought-out and well-executed program I felt privileged to be a part of it. In a world where so many corporations pay lip service to quality assurance, this was a rare experience of a team of people creating a week of the highest quality. I can't thank you enough. You all did a fantastic job."
- Ron Churgin, saxophonist, business owner
"Finally, after 20-plus years, I gained some insight into how this music works, thanks to all the staff. The concerts by John Harmon, Janet Planet and Gene Bertoncini were absolutely astonishing in their beauty."
- Christopher Jankowski, trumpeter, Mayo Clinic physician
"I was amazed by the amount of support from everybody and by the high level of teaching abilities."
- Daniella Willett-Rabin, drummer, arts student
"The fact that the instructors were such great people was just as important as their skills. It's one thing to say "It's all right that you're a novice and you make mistakes," but you guys were able to establish a truly supportive environment. The quality of the instructors here made it much more than just a jazz camp. Getting to interact informally with you guys let me actually experience the role of music in your lives."
- Chuck Will, pianist, school administrator
"I'm very glad I attended and appreciate the effort you all put into it."
- Dave Farr, vibist, retired university professor
"It was great! My fantasy was realized! The faculty were excellent -- made us all feel good and were a joy to be with. It was very well organized."
- Ellis Gruber, pianist, ophthalmologist
"I consider the time I spent with Gene Bertoncini (and it was long!) to be one of those major lifetime opportunities."
- Howard Leikin, guitarist, actuary
"You fulfilled all my jazz fantasies. Until next year, thank you!"
- Jack Cooley, pianist, attorney