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Chautauqua hosting jazz workshops, performances


Though the summer season has ended for another year at Chautauqua, the renowned grounds remain active this week.

The 15th Annual Jazz at Chautauqua features jazz artists including Dan Barrett, Scott Robinson, Howard Alden and vocalist Rebecca Kilgore.

"Well, it's exciting. It's very different when we're there because the place is deserted. It's not like in the high season when it's just crammed with people and events,” Kilgore said in an interview with WBFO and AM970.

“When we're there, the Chautauqua grounds are just so quiet and beautiful, but then you walk into the Athenaeum Hotel and you hear this great jazz. It's a little incongruous, but it's a beautiful, beautiful thing. I think the event itself has gained momentum over the years. I'm even more excited about it this year than ever."

The setting's intrigue only adds to a week of jazz. Performances are scheduled from Thursday through Sunday, but already underway are a series of workshops where amateur players and aspiring professionals can mix and learn from artists who have found jazz to be their calling.

"I'll be the vocal coach/teacher. In the morning, there are sessions with all my vocal students; in the afternoon there are combos where groups of the musicians from all instruments--piano, bass, drum, saxophone, trumpet-- will get together and kind of work out how it is to perform in a group situation,” Kilgore explained.

“So it's the best of both worlds. Then in the evening, I guess, there are just informal jam sessions."

Now entering her fourth decade of performing, Rebecca Kilgore says working as often as possible keeps her voice and style sharp.

The New York Times gave Kilgore a favorable review for her August performance in which she interpreted the Judy Garland songbook.

Beyond getting work, Kilgore says jazz professionals worry about the future of their beloved art form.

”We love our current audience. They have been faithful attendees for years. They're getting older. This art form, it is not dead. It's just part of the classic American music,” Kilgore said.

“It needs to be reinvigorated and reintroduced to younger people. We find when we do go out to schools for concerts, kids really do like it. In some cases they've never seen some of these acoustic instruments played live."

Now entering its 15th year, Jazz at Chautauqua feels to be part mission, part gig; and, according to Rebecca Kilgore, audiences seem to be responding.

“We have a lot of new patrons who have reserved spots this year. Almost more than we've had in any other year, so that adds to the excitement,” Kilgore said, adding that weekend packages remain available.

Information is available at www.JazzatCHQ.com or 1-800-821-1881.

Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.