More than 300
drummers of all ages took part in the third-annual
Camp August 15-19, 2009, at the
Hyatt hotel in Cleveland, Ohio.
Campers came from all over the United States and 10
countries, including: the U.K., Germany, Italy, the
Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, Taiwan, the
Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Turkey!
2009 instructors included Dave
Weckl, Steve Smith,
Peter Erskine, Tommy Igoe, and
Dafnis Prieto. Other world-class musicians who
took part included: Vinny Valentino, Baron
Browne, Chrissi Poland, Mark Soskin,
Andy Fusco, and Gary Keller.
camp started at Noon on Saturday with an opening
clinic that featured Steve, Dave, Peter, Tommy, and
Dafnis on the same stage. The instructors casually
walked onto the stage, and Dafnis started cool
rhythm that the other instructors picked up on and
Each drummer listened carefully, feeding off each
other and complementing one another. The rhythm
built and built until, finally, the instructors
began trading solos. The solos went stage left to
right and provided some exciting moments!
After a big ending, the instructors came to the
front of the stage, sat down, and
began a "roundtable" discussion about drumming and
music. They discussed everything from broad
technical concepts to the bigger picture of creating
rhythm and, ultimately, contributing to the
integrity of great music. They also discussed music
education, the general state of the music industry,
The audience asked questions and, at the end, was
treated to a closing piece performed by the entire
the clinic, the instructors rehearsed with
Steve Smith's Jazz Legacy for their 8pm
concert. Tommy Igoe, who had played his Friday night
Birdland gig the night before and flown in at 6
a.m., went through his songs and nail everything
During the rehearsal, a brief photo
shoot for the new
Zoom Q3 took place. Peter, Dave, and Steve
filmed each other with this great new video camera
while the photo crew caught all the fun moments! Of
course, the entire concert was
recorded with the
Zoom H4N audio recorder. Amazing sound!
At 8:00 p.m., the lights went down to a rousing
applause. Each instructor sat in with Steve
Smith's Jazz Legacy for three songs and took
an extended solo. After the show, the instructors
signed autographs, posed for photos, and mingled
was a long day - but attendees energetically made
their way down from hotel rooms to the conference
area for morning classes. The morning class went
from 9:00 a.m. to Noon and the afternoon class went
from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
As always, Steve Smith's classes were as much
about music history as they were about drumming.
Steve traced the history of the swing pulse and
showed how it has been applied to each generation
and genre of music. Many of Steve's campers got up
and played in Steve's class - executing various
significant rhythms used in modern music.
Dave Weckl's classes focused heavily on
elements of groove. Many of Dave's
campers got up to play, as well. Dave offered words
of encouragement to each camper in terms of
achieving the right feel - something Dave is
well-known for. The lessons were invaluable.
Tommy Igoe's Groove Essentials
DVDs/books are some of the most widely used
instructional products around. In Tommy's classes,
he played music through a speaker and chose key
grooves for campers play along with.
is an inspiring teacher with lots of energy and
enthusiasm for his students' growth. His classes
were the talk of the camp during the evening jams!
Reading charts is an area in which many drummers can
use help. Peter Erskine provided that help by
passing out charts and encouraging campers to follow
along - tapping out the rhythms together.
Peter's great sense of humility
pervaded the classes as he shared stories about
being a student who was afraid to make mistakes. He
also shared wisdom about how to play freely and
naturally; achieving a smooth swing pulse, and being
musical. Few drummers have made as much music as
His lessons were priceless.
Dafnis Prieto dynamic playing and friendly
and refreshing attitude impressed everyone. A
composer, bandleader, and incredible drummer,
Dafnis' classes broke down barriers of playing Latin
jazz. Dafnis explained his complex compositions and
his approach to the drum parts. He also shared
practice techniques to achieve a high level of
mental and physical independence.
Many people write in throughout the year to ask
about the "Jam Nights." What are
How do they work? Does everyone play?
Jam Nights are fun hangouts that take place from
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday
nights of the camp. They are held in a large
conference room that is part of the general
The hotel serves meals and drinks to
campers who sit at tables or on bar stools at
high-top tables. The instructors hang out among the
the front of the room, a world-class band plays
rock, funk, and jazz tunes all night. The band is
made up of guitarist Vinny Valentino (Vital
Information, George Benson, etc.), Baron Browne
(Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, Vital Information,
etc), and Chrissi Poland (Sam Moore, Moby,
Solo). Each night, campers are called up to sit in
with the band on tunes of their choice. Each camper
gets a chance to play (if they want to), and
everyone enjoys watching and hanging out with each
other each night.
Instructors also get up to play,
creating some really fun moments!
This year, we had some extra-special
moments. Two ten-year-old campers brought down the
house with their solid grooves. Also, there were
some great duets between the instructors. As in
years past, Dave Weckl spent most of each of the
three nights accompanying campers on timbales. Each
instructor took turns doing this. Peter Erskine
treated everyone to some serious funk, and we also
celebrated Steve Smith's birthday on the final Jam
So, the answer to what Jam Night are
is this: like the rest of the camp, they are fun
evenings of bonding, laughing, and experiencing
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