Hampton Jazz Festival spurs local high school group to improve
A couple of weeks ago, Pam Lockwood, artistic director of the Park City ARTS High School, announced the academy’s Vocal Jazz Combo was invited to compete at the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho.
The Hampton Jazz Festival, which was held this year Feb. 23-26, has called the University of Idaho home for 40 years and features competitions, workshops and concerts presented by some of movers and shakers in the jazz world.
This year, the Manhattan Transfer, drummer Jeff Hamilton and bassist Victor Wooten were some of the featured artists.
"The Hampton Jazz Festival is to Moscow, like Sundance is to Park City," Lockwood told The Park Record. "It’s headquartered at the University, but there are venues all over the city."
During the competitions, the Park City ARTS High Vocal Jazz Combo Connor Weatherly, Conner Jenkins, Sara Humes and Madi Hanks sang against hundreds of other students last week.
While the group didn’t place in the Vocal Combos competition, Lockwood said the experience was priceless.
"I am so proud of the group," Lockwood told The Park Record. "They did a great job and they learned so much.
"Since our combo is so new, we didn’t even consider winning," she said. "We went for the experience, but in doing so, they received so many compliments. People had a lot of good things to say, and the judges gave them some great advice that has, in turn, given the singers so much enthusiasm that we’re already looking at the next event."
The PCAHS Vocal Jazz Combo performed four songs, said Lockwood.
"One was a Christmas song we changed the words to called ‘We Come Sing for You,’" she said. "We made it jazzy and had a good time with it.
"We also did a silly and fun rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle," and added some jazz chords to it."
The other two were more serious, she said.
"We performed ‘Jazz Gloria’ by Natalie Sleeth," Lockwood said. "We even had a percussionist play on that one with us, and we did a fabulous four-part jazz arrangement of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’"
The highlight of the event was meeting Wooten during his workshop, Lockwood said.
"Unfortunately, we competed on Friday, which was when Victor gave a workshop with his band," she said. "We were able to see him perform that night and then on Saturday, we attended his solo workshop.
"That was the crème de la crème," Lockwood said. "Victor is not just a great musician and one of the best bass players in the world, but also a great person. They learned a lot from him."
Other memorable moments included seeing the Manhattan Transfer and Hamilton, who is a board member for the GAM Foundation in Salt Lake City, she said.
"It was a very positive experience that has already spurred our Vocal Jazz Combo on to become better musicians, singers and performers," Lockwood said. "The funny thing was they weren’t really familiar with jazz until we went to the festival. Now they are jazz lovers and we are planning to return next week."
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Park City leaders next week plan to showcase a City Hall workforce or otherwise restricted housing development in Old Town, highlighting one of what is expected to be a series of significant municipal projects in coming years.