GRAMMY-NOMINATED JAZZ VOCALIST JANET LAWSON
RETURNS TO LATVIA TO PERFORM AND TEACH AT MUSIC CAMP
(Published: July 14, 2010)
NEW YORK, July 14, 2010 -- New York City-based jazz vocalist JANET LAWSON is off to Latvia once again to sing and teach at the IX INTERNATIONAL LATVIAN YOUNG MUSICIANS' MASTER CLASSES. Held every two years, previously in Ogre, the music camp takes place in Sigulda, Latvia July 15-24, 2010. Dace Aperans is the Artistic Director of the camp, which offers young musicians, who range in age from 17 to 22, the opportunity to study with world-renowned musicians and educators in the areas of classical vocal and instrumental music, Latvian classics and jazz. Lawson will teach improvisation and scat-sing jazz standards with an esteemed classical and jazz music faculty that includes renowned pianist Raimonds Petrauskis and classical and jazz flutist and Berklee College of Music graduate Ilona Kudina.
This year Lawson will be singing more than ever. Since being diagnosed in 2001 with Lyme Disease and Bell's Palsy, which affected her ability to sing, Lawson has pursued her recovery as passionately as her singing. As Adjunct Professor of Vocal Jazz at The New School in New York City, as well as teaching privately, she imparts theoretical information in a way that "encourages non-judgmental self-awareness," guiding students to create the kinds of solos she herself is noted for -- fearless improvisations. For the past year, as her voice has grown stronger, she has rehearsed with Ratzo B. Harris, an original member of the Janet Lawson Quintet, to develop a voice-and-bass duo inspired by the mastery of Sheila Jordan and Harvie S.
Lawson has been traveling to Latvia to teach at the camps since 1994. Her visits have also included performances at local jazz clubs and the Saulkrasti Jazz Festival with such noted Latvian jazz musicians as late, legendary also sax player Raimonds Raubisko; pianists Viktors Ritov and Madars Kalnins; bassist Andris Grunte; sax and flute player Deniss Paskevics; alto saxophonist Niks Gothams; soprano saxophonist Artis Gaga; drummers Artis Orubs, Haralds Bondaris and Californian Bruce Becker; and her former vocal improvisation student, now Latvia's top jazz vocalist, Inga Berzina.
The International Latvian Young Musicians' Camps were first organized in Mount Orford, Quebec, Canada in 1985, 1987, and 1990. Subsequently eight International Latvian Young Musicians' Camps/Master Classes have taken place in Latvia; in 1994 in Jaungulbene; and in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 in Ogre. The theme of IX International Latvian Young Musicians' Master Classes is "Freedom in Music," and Lawson has been invited to lecture on that topic to faculty and students. She will offer her perspective as a jazz musician regarding repertoire, style of performance, and approaches to teaching jazz. She will also present some of her views from her forthcoming book, "The Integrated Artist: Improvisation as a Way of Life," in relation to, in her words, "how improvisation nourishes the authenticity of one's development as an artist -- a voice that's true to the creative spirit, that communicates more deeply from within and, at the same time, speaks to the depths of others."
In 1999 Lawson presented a jazz education program called Jazz Journey at Latvia's Riga College of Pedagogy and Education. Jazz Journey, which she originally conceived with renowned composer Carman Moore and later developed into an interactive program for children with noted pianist Lenore Raphael, is a hands-on program that traces the journey of West Africans taken from their homeland as it teaches the history and musical components of jazz. After Lawson's successful residency at the IV International Young Latvian Musicians Camp in 2000, students and teachers from both institutions wanted to experience Jazz Journey for themselves and pass it on to their students. In 2002 Jazz Journey was adopted by music teachers throughout Latvia, who brought the program to their respective music schools and colleges, including the Latvian Academy of Music.
Born in Baltimore to a family of professional musicians, Janet Lawson made her singing debut at the age of three and performed with big bands in her teens. After moving to New York, she began her studies with distinguished composer/arranger Hall Overton and made her debut appearance at the Village Vanguard with the Art Farmer Quartet. Throughout her career she has appeared with, among other jazz greats, Duke Ellington, Tommy Flanagan, Joe Newman, Barney Kessel, Milt Hinton, Ron Carter, Barry Harris, Dave Liebman, David and Lida Baker, Rufus Reid, Clark Terry, Billy Higgins, Cedar Walton and Bob Dorough.
Lawson was soprano soloist with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre in "Blood Memories" at City Center and composed and created, with lyricist Diane Snow, the musical "Jass is a Lady," supported by NEA and ASCAP Theatre Workshop and produced by Playwrights Horizons in New York City. Lawson has appeared at major New York jazz clubs and has toured the US, Canada and the Far East. She performs mostly in Europe at festivals and clubs, including the Jazz Cafe in London, the Duc des Lombards in Paris, the Copenhagen Jazz House in Denmark with The Very Big Band, plus concerts and clubs throughout Latvia and Lithuania. Her group, the Janet Lawson Quintet, has recorded two albums, "The Janet Lawson Quintet," which earned her a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Performance-Female (On a short list of jazz vocalists nominated for a first album, she lost to Ella Fitzgerald), and "Dreams Can Be." Cambria Master Recordings recently excerpted the albums for the new CD "The Janet Lawson Quintet," and in 2001, Celeste, a Japanese label, released two CDs of her earlier works plus recordings with David Lahm on Palo Alto's "Real Jazz For The Folks Who Feel Jazz" and Eddie Jefferson on Inner City's "The Main Man."
Lawson is widely recognized for her impeccable musicianship and free-spirited, swinging improvisation. Her commitment to improvisation, the essence of jazz, and her later studies with tenor sax master Warne Marsh nourished her conception of the voice as an instrument. This dedication to the musicianship of singers led her to extending her voice into the field of jazz education. A gifted teacher of vocal jazz technique and self expression, Lawson has conducted clinics throughout the world and master classes at the Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, Indiana University at Bloomington, City Stages in Birmingham, Alabama, and the University of Calgary, and has taught at Jamey Aebersold's jazz camp, and at IAJE with Patty Coker and Berklee's Bob Stoloff. Lawson headed the Vocal Jazz program at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey from 1981 to 1988. She is one of the founders of the Vocal Department at The New School, where she is currently Adjunct Professor of Vocal Jazz. She has been a rostered artist in the Pennsylvania Arts in Education (Artist in Residency) Programs since 1990. Lawson was the first jazz vocalist to offer master classes in Latvia and created the Vocal Jazz Program at the prestigious Teacher's Training Academy in Riga, Latvia, which now offers degrees in Vocal Jazz.
Lawson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts, and ArtsLink. She was co-awarded the New School's Collaborative Project Award with Adjunct Professor of Visual Arts, Craig Houser. Lawson is listed in the "New Grove Dictionary of Jazz" and the "All Music Guide To Jazz" and is included in Leslie Gourse's book "Louis' Children" and in Scott Yanow's book "The Jazz Singers." After a lengthy illness that prevented her from singing, Lawson is recovering and has returned to living, gigging and teaching in New York, where her spirit was first nourished by the music and musicians she loves. She wrote a book, "The Integrated Artist: Improvisation as a Way of Life," which will be published in Latvia, about her journey to recovery, and she is working on a soon-to-be-published children's book and accompanying CD about the history of jazz, "Grandma Sage and Her Magic Music Room," with story and original music co-written with renowned composer and author, Carman Moore. And she continues to foster the vision of the voice in jazz -- how Ira Gitler, journalist of jazz legends for decades, describes Lawson's voice -- "Vox Instrumentum." In the words of celebrated critic and journalist Stanley Crouch, "Janet Lawson is a true musician . . . up next to the musicians with whom she's working on an equal level."
More Information: http://janetlawson.hypermart.net