2008 | My Romania Jazz Diary

In 2005, 2006 & 2008, I served as guest artist/faculty for the Romanian Jazz Education Summit held in Jupanesti, Romania. This forum was co-sponsored by the Fulbright Commission, the International Association for Jazz Education, and Tibiscus University (Timisoara, Romania). Students and educators from around the country come to attend these workshops. 

The Jazz Summit was a week-long intensive study of Jazz performance and pedagogical issues. The guest artist/faculty roster is composed of several outstanding musicians/educators from around the world. 

Tom Smith, trombone, Co-Director, Senior Fulbright Professor, MI-USA 
Johnny Bota, Co-Director, Timisoara, Romania 
Rick Condit, saxophone, Senior Fulbright Professor, LA-USA 
Florence Melnotte, piano, Geneva, Switzerland 
Brian Torff, bass, NY-USA
Karen Gallinger, voice, CA-USA 
Tom Wolfe, guitar, AL-USA 
Ion Minda, drums, Austria 
Eldad Tarmu, vibraphone, Timisoara, Romania 
Paul De Castro, piano/Afro-Latin music, CA-USA  

I have been so fortunate to be a part of this program. The students and faculty were all a joy to work with and who have become my friends in this endeavor. I would also like to express my thanks to the University of Alabama, the College of Arts & Sciences, the Arts & Sciences Leadership Board, and my colleagues at the UA School of Music for their continued support, for without such support, my travels would not have been possible. 

Below I've included some of the pictures from the past few years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed my experiences in Romania. 
The chalet at the camp, or maybe better referred to as a retreat, where the faculty stayed. The property itself is a smaller residence that was renovated by Tibiscus University to host seminars such as the Jazz Education Summit. It is situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in the small village of Jupanesti - about 2 hours drive from Timisoara. What a beautiful area to learn about Jazz! 

A view from atop a hill above the retreat area - it is so serene. And the night skies are just filled with stars. The purpose for the great distance from Timisoara was to give us an isolated area enabling the students the opportunity to focus on Jazz without any distractions. 
The spartan atmosphere creates a great environment for teaching, learning and performing. There are several areas that are used to work with the students. The 'mess hall' serves double-duty for eating and masterclasses. Here's Rick Condit teaching a class on the jazz lineage of the saxophone. 

This room became the common room during the soccer World Cup Championship. They brought in a television so that we could watch the final matches. Just another way to build friendships with our Romanian peers! 

In the middle of the yard is a concrete patio that was specifically built for the Jazz Summit. Currently the patio does not have a roof, so a tent was used to provide shade. 

Also included on the property is a gazebo that offered smaller, yet shady areas for working with the students. 

What may look like a challenging atmosphere to work in, couldn't have been more on the mark. Students and faculty alike all jumped right in to work and make the most of the time we had at this retreat. Here is the small combo I coached last year. The talent I have encountered these past two years is very high and it is a real joy to work these young students. 

To finish the camp, we put on a final concert at the arts high school in Timisoara. We feature a big band, and several combos. Here we are at the sound check. Due to instrumentation, we re-adjusted the ensemble to fit the jazz ensemble instrumentation. I even played the 2nd trumpet part in the ensemble! Anything we can do to introduce them to the repertoire. 

While in Romania, I also performed at a couple of festivals: American Music Days in Sibiu and the Garana International Jazz Festival in Garana. Sibiu is in Transylvania - just beautiful architecture. Here is a view from one of the towers in the Protestant Church in Sibiu. The style of the houses leads the people in the area to say that the houses have 'eyes.' Look at the roof-tops in the lower-left. 

If you follow the link to the American Music Days festival, there is a photo gallery of Thalia Hall where I performed and stayed - here is a link to one of the photos. And also a link to the musician's point of view from the stage. The festival organizers put me up in an apartment in the Philharmonic Hall. Here is the lobby of the hall - the stairs lead to the apartments. 

Garana is in the mountains about 3.5 hours from Timisoara. The nearest city is Resita. The view is spectacular. Here is the inn that we stayed at while at the festival. 

Here are a couple of pictures of our performance at the jazz festival in Garana. Being in the mountains, it got very cold - in the low 40's. We performed around 2am. Talk about the jazz musician's schedule.... From left to right are myself, Florence Melnotte (piano), Tom Smith (trombone), Iuon Minda (drums), Rick Condit (saxophone), and Brian Torff (bass). 

I'm freezing, but having fun.