Vail Jazz Festival welcomes students from across the nation

Carolyn Pope for “Vail Valley Scenery,” Special To the Vail Daily

If you see some high-schoolers wandering around Vail this week, instrument cases in hand and a bounce in their step, you might give them a high-five and welcome them to the world of Vail Jazz.

This week, 12 young men from across the nation are in Vail honing their skills with some of the best jazz instructors and musicians in the country. Education is the cornerstone of the Vail Jazz Foundation. It’s not just about bringing in world-class musicians for all of us to enjoy; it’s about passing the torch to the next generation, and the folks of the Jazz Festival, under the watchful eye of Howard Stone, have been doing just that for the past 20 years.

“This may be the most talented group we have ever seen,” said Owen Hutchinson, development manager for the Jazz Foundation.

The students were introduced to their host families, a group of six families from Vail to Edwards who volunteer their homes and hospitality for the week the students are attending classes. Dinner was served at Lion Square Lodge, and a casual jam session featuring the students ensued. The young men had only been together for one afternoon, which gave the audience a first look at their talent.

Maureen Mayer, along with her husband, Wing, have hosted students for the past four years. “I love jazz, plain and simple,” she said. “I want to see the art form move further, and the only way for that to happen is to have young people learning and playing jazz.”

The other hosts echoed her sentiments.

“The kids who get chosen are not only talented but intelligent,” she said. “They have to fit all their gigs in on top of school, and they are all stellar students.”

Also hosting students are locals Karen Rosenbach and Tom Daniel, Sharon Kirschner and Dan Brajtbord, Glen and Margaret Wood, Karen and Jay Johnson, and I couldn’t resist, either, since my son headed off to college this fall, so I have two great kids, Alec Smith, a drummer, and Alex Laurenzi, who plays alto saxophone.