I have seen firsthand the transformative power of this program — Dave Brubeck
“For almost ten years, now, I have been involved with the non-profit Litchfield Performing Arts program as a performer and sometimes educator. The mission and focus of this organization and Litchfield Jazz Camp is not simply to create great music but to transform young students by opening doors for them that lead to scholarships, college and fulfilling lives.
The Camp places special importance on providing opportunities to those in need, whether itis financial, lack of access due to health or medical conditions, lack of access to arts/humanities programs, or sometimes just the need to have someplace to belong. This paired with the fabulous faculty at Camp is a perfect equation for a student’s personal growth.
One instance that comes to mind is the story of an 11-year-old saxophone player I am told came to the camp quite shy and unsure of himself. In the summer of 2008 I was engaged to perform at the Litchfield Jazz Festival. In the afternoon preceding the concert, Paquito D’Rivera and I held an open discussion and interview that was attended by the students of the Jazz Camp as well as the general public. This student, looking even younger than his 11 years, approached me and asked if he could play “Take Five” with me on stage. A little taken aback I told him he had to ask my alto sax player, Bobby Militello. … Bobby smiled and said, “You sure you know the tune?” He replied,” Every note!” So, toward the end of the Quartet’s performance, we invited the youngster to join us. I expected to hear a timid playing of the melody, but he “took off” and actually performed Take Five like a jazz artist before an audience of several thousand. It seemed impossible that this amazing child could ever have been described as shy and unsure of his abilities. That night he was very sure. This is a perfect representation of what Litchfield Jazz Camp seeks to accomplish. The Jazz Camp transforms students into the best versions of themselves, preparing them not only to be wonderful musicians, but confident people in all aspects of their lives.”
January 13, 2009