Vail Jazz Workshop
Each year, a dozen of North America’s most dedicated, gifted and promising young jazz musicians are chosen from a broad field of talented applicants, receiving scholarships to participate in the 10-day Vail Jazz Workshop in Vail, Colorado. Organized in conjunction with the Vail Jazz Party, this highly-regarded curriculum is now in its 26th year, mentoring over 300 high school-aged musicians since its inception. The VJ Workshop, among the longest-running programs of its type, enables the student musicians to study and be coached in an environment that emphasizes intense interaction with instructors and fellow students, while providing them with the unique opportunity to perform alongside legendary professional musicians at the VJ Party over Labor Day Weekend. It is a rigorous learning experience that is conducted exclusively, and uniquely, without any written music, emphasizing listening skills, improvisation, and group work. The curriculum for the Workshop each year varies depending on what the faculty sees as most beneficial for the students. By anecdote, reputation, and word-of-mouth—from students and professionals alike—the 12 annual slots at the VJ Workshop are among the most coveted music scholarships among pre-college jazz musicians today. Many Workshop alumni have advanced to highly successful musical careers, garnering numerous awards, Grammy® nominations, albums, and tour dates with jazz greats, as well as fronting their own groups at notable jazz venues and festivals throughout the world. In a nod to the exceptional talent the Workshop has nourished over many years, the VJ Party features returning alumni—now professionals—to perform as the Vail Jazz Alumni Sextet.
APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2021 WORKSHOP ARE NOW CLOSED
2021 WORKSHOP STUDENTS
The 2021 Vail Jazz Workshop students have been selected! The applications this year were of the highest caliber, making the selection process a true challenge. The twelve students selected rose to the top and represent the top talent in their instruments. Scroll through the dots on the right below to meet this year’s Workshop students.
Alex Perry, a junior at San Francisco University High School, started his musical journey banging on pots and pans along with jazz recordings at age four, then started playing drums and piano at age five, and has been playing piano and composing ever since. A member of the SFJAZZ High School All-stars, he is a three-time YoungArts Winner (jazz piano and composition), 2020 recipient of the Jazz at the Ballroom Scholarship, and a pianist for both the 2020 Cal Jazz Conservatory Advanced High School Combo and the 2021 California All-State High School Honor Jazz Band. He has been playing regularly for seniors since fifth grade and presently teaches music in a “last chance” high school. He loves to play chess, shoot hoops, and enjoys listening to a wide variety of musical styles and genres, from Coltrane to Stravinsky to John Williams. He also loves cooking Italian food, especially his signature lemon olive creamy pasta.
Andrew was born in Tucson, Arizona and grew up in Okemos, Michigan. Outside of music, his hobbies include running and watching soccer. He started playing the trombone in 6th grade and began to pursue jazz more seriously in 10th grade. Through the programs at his high school, he has volunteered at various local events in his community, such as running races, food and blood drives, and car washes. He plans on continuing his education after high school by pursuing an undergraduate degree in jazz studies at Michigan State University.
Aviel Del Rosario
Aviel Del Rosario is 17 and a junior in high school attending Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He was born in South Florida and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 2010 with his family at the age of 6. While in Memphis, Aviel continued taking piano lessons but transitioned to the upright bass in the 6th grade as part of a middle school orchestral program. In addition to music lessons, Aviel also performed in local theater singing and dancing. In 2016, Aviel and his family relocated back to south Florida and he continued enhancing his musicality in middle school at the Parkway Performing Arts Program and then he transitioned to the Dillard Center for the Arts for high school. Aviel is passionate about music and intends to pursue music in college and then as a career afterwards. In his spare time, Aviel enjoys playing video games and camping.
Brahm is from Lafayette, California where he plays in various bands and combos including the SF Jazz High School All Stars Big Band and the SF Jazz Monday Night Band. He was the pianist for the Rossmoor Big Band, a multigenerational band with players from ages 13-93. He got hooked on jazz in 8th grade by his middle school band teacher Bob Athayde, who continues to mentor him. Brahm is a piano teacher for several young students and loves giving back by playing at community and school events. His style has been shaped by Brad Mehldau, Oscar Peterson, and McCoy Tyer and his incredible teachers Peter Horvath, Frank Martin, and Kyle Athayde.
Cameron has lived in Tucson, Arizona his entire life, and is so thankful to have lived there. When he was little, he had the pleasure of attending an elementary school which immerses students in Mexican culture: teaching Spanish and encouraging students to play mariachi music. It was because of this that he first took up music, and since then music has been his greatest passion. Throughout middle school and high school, he has grown as a person and changed a lot, but music, especially jazz as well as mariachi, has always been there for him. He will continue his music studies at USC in the fall.
George began learning about and playing jazz in middle school, thanks to Bob and Julie Athyade, two dedicated music teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area (two of whose children are alumni of the Workshop). Now, as a high schooler, several years later, he performs regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in a variety of ensembles. He is thankful to participate in programs at SFJazz and the California Jazz Conservatory. Outside of music, he enjoy long walks, backpacking, Boy Scouts (6+ years), English literature (Whitman and Thoreau), playing board games and cards, spending time with family and friends, meeting new people, thrift shopping, and anime and manga.
JJ is a sophomore at the Los Angeles High School for the Arts (LACHSA). He studies drums with Daniel Schnelle, Jonathan Pinson, and Roy McCurdy. JJ is currently playing drums in LACHSA’s A combo and trumpet in their Big Band. He has participated in Colburn School’s Monday Night Combo and the All-State Honor Band. JJ has been studying the drum set and percussion for 12 years. Awards include: Spotlight Semifinalist in Jazz Instrumental (2020); Leon “Ndugu” Chancler Award at the Stanford Jazz Workshop (2019); YoungArts Merit winner in percussion (2020 and 2021); Spotlight Grand Prize Finalist (2021). One of JJ’s biggest musical inspirations is Gerald Clayton, Workshop alumnus. JJ sees himself playing professionally around the world.
From a young age, Laura has always been surrounded by music. She would often sing with her mom, a vocalist, in church, but it was in 5th grade when she picked bass after seeing a video of Esperanza Spalding playing and singing bass at the White House, which was almost an awakening as she never saw a Black woman playing bass. She also never saw someone singing with a bass. After that, she ultimately saw herself capable of doing something like that, and felt dedicated to push herself to be able to perform at that level. Outside of music, she’s active in school and community, a straight A student, and founder and president of her high school’s first Black Student Union. She’s also the Sophomore Class Secretary, VP of the Students for Social Activism club, historian for the Tri-music honors society, a member of the Green action club, and on the varsity basketball team. She also started her own organic hair care business called Embrace by Laura-Simone.
Luciano had fiddled with guitar in the fifth grade and took on the trombone at the start of the 6th grade. He started in the beginning band at Los Cerritos Middle School and moved into the top band during his second year of playing. He is now currently in the top classical and jazz band in his high school, playing first trombone in both.
Matthew was born in Houston, Texas and has played drumset for 13 years. He enjoys watching movies (usually sci-fi and occasionally romantic comedies) and also competes in video game tournaments with his school team, and likes casually playing video games with his two younger brothers. He plans to pursue either music or engineering in higher education in the future.
Nick was born in San Diego, and has lived there ever since. His hobbies include surfing, competitive swimming, skateboarding and distance running. He enjoys helping younger musicians, pointing them in the right direction regarding what to practice, how to listen to music, etc. He’d like to attend school in New York because he has a lot of friends and connections (students and professionals) there.
Skylar Tang is a musician from the Bay Area. She started playing classical piano at the age of four and picked up the trumpet for the first time when she was nine. After attending a Stanford Jazz Workshop camp during the summer of 2017, she found her home in jazz music. Since then, she has played in various ensembles including both the CASMEC Junior-High and High School Jazz Bands, and has been a recipient of the Jazz at the Ballroom Scholarship. Skylar currently plays trumpet in the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Big Band and Combo. Before the pandemic, Skylar frequently gigged around the peninsula area but when Covid-19 hit, her focus shifted towards composing, arranging, and producing music. Outside of music, Skylar enjoys playing sports, going on walks, and spending time with her family.
Who can apply?
The workshop is a residency program for twelve dedicated and gifted young jazz musicians who have demonstrated a commitment to their musical studies and a level of skill to warrant special attention. The level of talent of the students attending the workshop is extremely high. Therefore only students who can play at the highest level will likely gain admission to the workshop.
Students attending the workshop must be at least 15 years of age and not more than 19 years of age (determined as of August 28, 2021) and must be a full time student enrolled in a high school (grades 9 – 12) or home schooled in compliance with appropriate local law during the school year completed just prior to the workshop. Applicants who have just graduated from high school may apply but an applicant may not have attended a university, college, junior college or other post high school educational institution on a full time basis, nor may an applicant have attended a prior workshop.
The workshop is only open to students whose primary instruments are the following: piano, bass, drums, trumpet, saxophone and trombone. Currently no other instruments are accepted into the workshop.
Aug 28 - Sept 6
Director of Education, Bass Instructor
1955 - 2020