Berklee Today

Berklee Beat:
Summer Guitar Sessions Marks Tenth Season

Summer Guitar Session participant Kim Myhr (center) is flanked by the Guitar Department Chair Larry Baione (right) and cochair Rick Peckham who awarded him a $7,000 scholarship.
Photo by Toni Ballard

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Berklee Summer Guitar Sessions Program. Since its inception in 1992, the program has grown from a three-day program with 120 participants to a six-day program in recent years, with a steadily growing enrollment reaching 378 participants in 2001.

This year's program was, "musically speaking, the best Guitar Sessions ever,” according to Assistant Chair of the Guitar Department Rick Peckham. In addition to Guitar Sessions classes, faculty performances, and clinics, this year's program featured three outstanding visiting artists: Greg Koch, Ben Monder, and Wayne Krantz.

The Guitar Sessions offerings included fretboard harmony, style, and ensemble classes that met for an hour and a half per class per day, Monday through Thursday. On Friday each ensemble had a last rehearsal in the morning and then performed their final concert in the afternoon. A total of 74 ensembles met during the week with a stylistic range that included blues, jazz, funk, fusion, pop, finger style, contemporary and classic rock, and metal. The ensembles rehearsed and performed with 25 of the best bass and drum rhythm sections on the East Coast.

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation donated $5,000 and the D'Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts donated $2,500 for partial tuition scholarships. Fender has supported the Guitar Sessions program from the beginning. It has contributed $5,000 annually, providing a total of $50,000 over the past 10 years. The D'Addario Foundation has given scholarship money to the program for the past two years. These donations funded scholarships that enabled 30 participants to attend the program this year. Following special auditions, six Berklee College of Music scholarships in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $7,000, and totaling $36,000 were presented to talented participants.

In addition to classes and concerts, the participants were kept busy with 18 faculty and visiting artist concerts, clinics, and faculty-led student jam sessions. Many of these events were also open to the general public. Faculty artists presenting concerts or clinics at this year's sessions included Scotty Johnson, Joe Musella, Jon Damian, Tomo Fujita, Mick Goodrick, Bruce Bartlett, Jim Peterson, Larry Baione, Ed Tomassi, and Jon Finn.

Visiting Artist Greg Koch presented a clinic and concert with the support of Fender Musical Instruments. Koch, a Fender clinician, records for Steve Vai's Favored Nations label. His latest release is called The Grip.

Fellow visiting artist Ben Monder performed in the Berklee Performance Center with his own band which included Theo Blackman on vocals and Berklee alumni Kermit Driscoll on bass and Satoshi Takeishi on drums. The performance showcased beautifully realized renditions of Monder's demanding original compositions. Since the mid-1980s, Monder has been a part of the New York scene and has performed and/or recorded with a wide variety of artists including Marc Johnson, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielmans, and Jack McDuff, and he is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. He has played on over 40 CDs as a sideman and Monder's CDs as a leader include Excavation, Dust, and Flux.

Visiting artist Wayne Krantz '79 presented a clinic and a performance featuring his trio with Tim Lefebvre on bass and Keith Carlock on drums. Wayne Krantz has performed and/or recorded as a sideman with Steely Dan, Victor Bailey, Michael Brecker, Dave Samuels, Randy Brecker, Carla Bley, Michael Formanek, Billy Cobham, Leni Stern, Harvie Swartz, Mike Gibbs, and others. Krantz's trio CDs include Long To Be Loose, 2 Drink Minimum and Greenwich Mean. His appearance at this year's Guitar Sessions was a fitting reintroduction to the Berklee community. In September, Krantz became the latest addition to Berklee's Guitar Department faculty.

—Rob Ruffin '01