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(Published: May 03, 2011)

College of the Atlantic (COA) in Bar Harbor, Maine, will once again be the site for the third annual Samba Meets Jazz Workshops program, taking place July 24 through 30, and July 31 through August 6.

Under leadership of its Artistic Directors - world-class jazz guitarist and educator Roni Ben-Hur and Artistic Director virtuoso Brazilian bassist Nilson Matta - the faculty is expanding in 2011 to include legendary pianist, composer and educator Arturo O'Farrill multi-instrument reed player Steve Wilson
(saxophone, flute, clarinet); vocalist and co-founder of the New School's Vocal Jazz program, Amy London (returning for her second year), percussionist Gilad (recognized by Jazziz as "one of the world's great percussionists") and drummer Zack O'Farrill, recently lauded by All About Jazz as one "of the youngest Latin jazz lions to roar onto the scene in quite some time."

The program, geared to all ages and experience levels, draws a diverse group of participants from across the United States and beyond, including adult hobbyists, college students, instrumentalists and vocalists seeking to explore new genres, as well as educators and jazz artists seeking to hone their craft. High school students are encouraged to attend as well, if chaperoned. Samba Meets Jazz Workshops' highly personalized curricula and small class size provide an ideal opportunity for participants to expand their skill sets and understandings, with the added benefit of connecting and working closely with world-class musicians - during classes, concert rehearsals and faculty-led evening jams.

The location of College of the Atlantic, steps away from Acadia National Park,is equally inspirational. A mid-day break enables students and faculty to take full advantage - from a ride up to Cadillac Mountain, a popover at Acadia's famed Jordan Pond Restaurant, kayaking on Frenchman's Bay, to a swim at Echo Lake. For participants, a week or two at Samba Meets Jazz's spectacular oceanfront setting, is "leisure-learning" at its best. Students are housed at either College of the Atlantic, with its own pier and typically rocky Maine beach, or at select bed and breakfast inns throughout the charming town of Bar Harbor.

"Being involved with music in this spectacular setting provides people with an opportunity to regenerate their batteries," comments Ben-Hur. "After weeks of being involved with the stress of everyday life for 50 weeks of the year, at Samba Meets Jazz, they have the opportunity to reconnect with their creativity in a nurturing and supportive environment. Being exposed, daily for a week or two, to wonderful music in classes, jams and concerts provides them with a great source of inspiration and allows them to return to their lives feeling fulfilled and exhilarated."

While the curriculum for each of the two Samba Meets Jazz Workshops is distinct, emphasis on playing in ensembles is key to both. Both weeks include Jazz Standards (Ben-Hur)and Brazilian Ensembles (Matta). Augmenting this in Week 1, will be Gilad's World Beat ensembles, while Week 2 students will have an opportunity to dig into repertoire from Hard Bop & Beyond with Wilson, as well as Latin Jazz repertoire in ensembles and Big Band sessions led by Arturo O'Farrill.

Both weeks include instrumental master classes/clinics by faculty, including: Guitar (Ben-Hur), Bass (Matta), Piano (Arturo O'Farrill), Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute (Wilson), Percussion (Gilad) and Drum Set coaching (Gilad and Zack O'Farrill.)

The vocal component is integral to the learning experience in Week 1. By incorporating vocalists into ensemble sessions, instrumentalists have an opportunity to enhance accompaniment skills, and vocal students to apply their learning as they prepare for the culminating concert. Vocal students also have ample time to work with London on repertoire, technique, arranging, and vocal improvisation, as well as
with Gilad on percussion, Matta on Samba phrasing and Portuguese pronunciation, and if they wish, with Ben-Hur on improvisation & harmony.

Registration for Samba Meets Jazz is open now. Students who register prior to May 24 will receive a Spring Discount of $100 off the Standard ($860) or Student ($700) tuition/registration fee. On-campus lodging and meals (Sunday through Saturday) are $380 for a double, and $505 for a private room. Significant others are welcome to attend. Tuition/lodging packages are available for college students at a reduced rate, and financial aid is available on a limited basis.

Samba Meets Jazz Workshops evolved from Guitar Intensives, which Executive Director Alice Schiller founded in 2002 to focus solely on jazz guitar. In 2004, based on student interest, the program expanded to include acoustic blues. And in 2008, with enrollment overflowing, and with a commitment from College of the Atlantic for additional weeks, Schiller was able to realize her vision of a jazz program for all instruments and vocals. Coincidentally, Schiller had just begun to study with Ben-Hur, and inspired by his teaching approach, she invited him to teach. In turn, Ben-Hur recruited Matta, with the vision of incorporating a Brazilian component into the program.

Since that time, the program has expanded dramatically, marked most recently by the launch of Samba Meets Jazz Workshops in Paraty, Brazil this past February. American and Brazilian students studied side-by-side in this magnificent coastal town - enjoying the majestic beauty of the ocean and the mountains, a vibrant cultural exchange and alluring food and drinks - all while playing and learning about Samba & jazz from morning till night. Plans are already underway for the 2012 program in Brazil, which is again scheduled for February.

"This growth has evolved from needs and requests made by returning students. Our personalized approach, along with our small size, is what sets Samba Meets Jazz Workshops apart from most other programs," explained Schiller. "It starts when new students inquire about the program. Either Roni, Nilson or I speak with them on the phone to make sure our program is a good match for what they're seeking to accomplish. And at camp, our faculty is involved with the students round-the-clock, constantly tweaking the program to fit students' needs. It's hard work, but their passion for sharing their music and expertise is unflagging."

That passion is reflected in the joyous phone message Nilson left right after the first year's program: "The experience of sharing ... of teaching the music I love, and of working with our students in this spectacular setting is just...FANTASTIC!"

More Information: http://www.jazzintensives.com

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