by Jeannette Fang
Everyone's pumped for the new Jazz Workshop coming up in a just a few days. Not only is it a chance to see the great jazz duo of Ellen Rowe and Sunny Wilkinson in action; the program itself is uniquely structured with an intense focus on what Professor Rowe describes as "one of the most intimate chamber experiences in jazz."
Both of the faculty are excited by this new concept. "I have been faculty on numerous jazz camps, but never one that that was built this model," Sunny Wilkinson exclaims. She describes their plans to "engage a select group of students and delve more deeply into the relationship between singer and pianist," which will be accomplished in part by "masterclasses and rehearsals for the duos, where we will also give the participants valuable information that they need to succeed as jazz musicians and professionals."
For Ellen Rowe, she hopes to address the challenges pianists face in such a partnership, as “without the need to compete with bass and drums, singers can be much more flexible with volume, timbre and overall delivery. It is hence essential for pianists to be even more sensitive in how they follow and support”. The challenge is well worth it, for when the collaboration works, “it can be an incredibly evocative and memorable musical experience for both the artists and the audience.”
Of course, it will be a joy to witness that ideal through the musical partnership between Ellen Rowe and Sunny Wilkinson, who have performed together for more than 25 years. They first met through the “Sisters in Jazz” program, which was started by the International Association of Jazz Educators, and have cooperated on numerous performances and clinics together since then.
They most recently performed together at Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert House, where they discussed another intimate relationship of the genre: the “successful marriage between words and music” of their favorite jazz standards.
It is clear that their teamwork is a source of mutual enrichment for both each other and their audience. Their enthusiasm for working together is proof that music keeps us young and inventive, and we look forward to their inspiring coachings in the Amalfi Coast Music & Art Festival's first jazz workshop.