2016 HJW Scholarship Student Profile: Braden Smith

Lasse Moerck "Hudson Jazz Works is an extremely unique concept. Unlike other music camps/retreats, HJW focuses on each individual’s musical voice. Fewer participants allow the instruction to be precise and focused. Each musician gets ample opportunity to play and to receive critique from two of the best music educators in the field today. Armen Donelian and Marc Mommaas are two 'one of a kind' musicians and my four days playing, talking, and performing with them was an invaluable experience. I cannot emphasize the playing aspect enough; the fact that the faculty is constantly playing with the students is so valuable for every individual. But the music isn't the only positive aspect of the camp. Hudson, NY is one of the most beautiful communities in the state. The pleasant host families and the kind hearted care of Armen and his wife Rose provide a welcoming/relaxing setting to play, work, and think about music. I will take the experience of Hudson Jazz Works with me into the future and recommend it to every student/musician who wonders about attending.” - Braden Smith/Participant, New School


"I just want to say thank you so much for choosing me as a participant in the 2016 Hudson Jazz Workshop. It was an honor to have the opportunity to work with you and Marc, and the other students! It’s clear that both you and Marc have worked really hard to create a great workshop experience. The location, in the picturesque countryside of Hudson, is relaxing, peaceful, and quiet—a type of environment that is very conducive to learning—and the thoughtful and insightful collection of masterclasses, private lessons, and jam sessions provided a good framework for exploration. I also really appreciated your and Marc’s receptiveness to questions, the responses you presented, and musical demonstrations of concepts when appropriate; this was perhaps one my favorite, and one of the most beneficial, aspects about the workshop. Aside from classes, it was nice to have an adequate amount free time during meals to hang out and get to know everyone. Students and teachers alike all come from unique backgrounds, and it was fascinating to learn about other’s perspectives regarding music and life in general! (By the way, all of the meals were extraordinary—thank you, Rose!) And, as an added bonus, Chris Washburn’s guest lecture discussing why jazz matters topped off an already great weekend, and I left feeling invigorated and inspired with new tools to explore in my endeavors this fall! Thank you again!” - Jon Snell/Participant, Manhattan School Of Music

“Fantastic program! Thanks for everything.” - Sage Carter/General Manager, Hudson Opera House

“Thanks so much for having me. It was great fun. You have built a cool scene for yourself. I was honored to be a part of it.” - Chris Washburn/Guest Artist, Columbia University

“Thank you. I really enjoyed the concert. And as a teacher, I loved watching the interactions among the students and teachers. I am a professor of psychology at St. John's University, so I have workshops for my students as well. But we focus on statistics! My daughter is the Director of Choral Music and Early Childhood Music at the Thurnauer School in Music in Tenafly, NJ. She would have loved to see your program. She has younger musicians, but with the same beautiful spirit of intense joy and focus I saw in your performance. Thank you. I look forward to next year.” - Elizabeth and Tom Bondolo/Donors, St. John's University

“I can't thank you enough for the experiences of this past week. I felt welcomed and acknowledged; learning commenced on so many levels. What a tremendous joy it was to learn and share such great music with such dedicated musicians. Thanks to you and Rose for opening your home to all of us. I believe it enhanced our experience on a deeper, personal level. I hope that you will also share this sentiment with Marc. I would have enjoyed spending more time hearing him and his music… Chris Washburne as well for sure. It was a memorable, delightful week - deepest gratitude. :)” - Cara Silvernail/Participant, New School Alumna


2015 HJW Scholarship Student Profile: Kana Miyamoto

Lasse Moerck "Thank you for letting me join the Hudson Jazz Workshop. It was a great, valuable opportunity to study with Armen and Marc and the other very colorful, experienced musicians, and it was also a very condensed learning time for me. All the information was clear. The classes that Armen and Marc taught provided a lot of ideas for my playing, some of which I haven't reached yet, and yet it was fun to try in the concentrated time there. Meeting and hearing Claudio Roditi was also a great opportunity, his music gave us a lot of advice. I can’t forget to thank Rose for the great and healthy food and the clean conformable room. Especially the salmon we had on last day was very special, also I can’t forget the taste of those small sweets. The Hudson Opera House is a very beautiful place and I enjoyed our performance there with a very warm audience. I was so impressed with how the venue organizes more than two hundred events and preserves the arts. Since the Workshop, I’ve been working on swing feel and Jazz vocabularies very carefully. Spending those four days concentrated on just music made me think about a lot of things, question myself about what is Jazz, what is swing. Hearing teachers playing and hearing the people from many kinds of backgrounds gave me some hints that I hope will lead me where I want to go. To me, the master class was a most valuable time: Discussing how to approach music during performance. Armen and Marc gave me answers on different aspects, and both approaches cleared my mind and encouraged me to go up on stage and play music with others. I am still on my way to be the musician that I see in myself, but I feel the day is coming closer. Thank you so much!


First of all, thank you again for the opportunity and having me be a participant at the camp. I had a such a great and inspiring experience overall. The communications were very clear and I even received a personal phone call to discuss my driving situation. All went smoothly on arrival. The jam sessions were by far the most rewarding thing the camp had to offer. After the discussions analyzing and learning music throughout the day, it was a great release to have everyone together playing tunes and being able to interact with the masters Armen and Marc. Marc had me do an ear training exercise that was playing free improvisations over free chord progressions provided by the chordal instruments. It was ear training but placed in the context of making music. I thought it was a great concept for duo playing. The rhythmic class was very eye opening to the endless possibilities of combinations that are possible. Marc and Armen have no problems demonstrating anything they are teaching and it is very inspiring to see that. Instrumental master class and individual lessons were for me more of a question and answer both on musical topics and life stories that tie in to the world of life as a musician. Marc and Armen both opened up immediately and were sharing their stories and experiences both positive and negative. My combo was a trio with guitar and alto. We were all from different countries but we immediately shared a musical bond. Along with the help and ideas of the instructors we came up with a set that flowed tune to tune being able to feel creatively free in every situation. The master class with Claudio Roditi brought a good energy to the camp from his cultural perspective. I could tell he really loves to play music and enjoys the spirit of the music. He was a great character and very funny, but his attitude was the biggest thing I took away from his masterclass. The concert at Hudson Opera House was held at such a beautiful location. It is an intimate space but sounded great. I enjoyed having the opportunity to perform with a band of people we just met. It felt like a real show and not just part of a camp. Housing was comfortable having my own room and bathroom made the stay feel easy. The in-house meals were one of the best parts of the camp. Every day there was delicious fresh food that met everyone’s needs. I think all the students looked forward to the meals every day. What a treat. When we went out for dinner in the evening, it was nice to see the town of Hudson and be able to walk around and socialize with the other students outside of a music setting.

Armen, we want to thank you for the tickets for an extraordinarily enjoyable performance. Your participants were, to a player, fantastic. We especially enjoyed Marc’s quartet, which reminded me a bit of Jimmy Guffrie. The piece composed by the Argentine guitarist, Virxilio Da Silva, “Tower [something]” is also very, very good. We would love to get a recording of both. Eric Cheng is also very gifted. We would like to hear the whole piece from which the movement he played came.
Doug Kramer and Judith Ahrens Advisors to the HJW Board

Dear Armen, We met yesterday at the concert. I went to see Claudio who has three CDs on the Reservoir label, and is a sideman on two of our other CDs. It was a very enjoyable afternoon of music. The students were wonderful, especially the guitar players, the altoist, and the bass players. I don’t know why it took so long, but it was the first time that I heard you play. ...In any event, yesterday was truly a pleasure, and I hope that you and Marc continue to have your workshop.
Sincerely, Mark Feldman Reservoir Music

Thanks Armen. I was staffing the hall for most of it but you all sounded great, as always.
Gary Schiro, Executive Director Hudson Opera House

2014 HJW Scholarship Student Profile: Lasse Mørck

Lasse Moerck "Hi Armen, Thank you again for letting me attend your workshop and for letting us come into your home. I really like the part about it being so intimate and small, and that we get to see who you are and what you come from. It was a very warm and joyful experience to be part of the workshop, but at the same time we worked and discussed serious and meaningful subjects. It's always nice to expand the perspective on your own life and yourself, and there's nothing more expanding than meeting people from different cultures and countries, especially when they are opening up themselves, as I think you and Marc did. That makes it easier for us students to do the same. So thank you for that. I will probably see both of you around, so goodbye till I see you again. I would also like to thank you for letting my dad be part of this, and thank both you and Rose from him as well. It's been a big experience for him, too."
All the best, Lasse Mørck, Bass
(Rhythmic Conservatory of Copenhagen, Denmark)


'Mr. Donelian, Marc and everybody: Thank you so much for sharing your music and your being. It was a little difficult at the first for me to understand everything but the second day was better... I didn't speak English since 4 years before, but I got it. Thanks for the patience and for inspiring me to be a better musician. I learned a lot and when you like to come to San Luis Potosí, Mexico, I'll take you a tour. Thanks, too much music and spirit."
Samuel Martínez-Herrera, Piano (Mexico)

"Hi Armen, Thanks very much for a challenging and enlightening weekend. I especially enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people, your non-triad session, Marc's polyrhythm session, the morning rhythm section classes with you and then with Marc (the one with Marc was pretty painful but in a good kind of way), the session with Reggie Workman (I loved playing his wacky ensemble chart and the way he directed), and, of course, Rose's cooking. I certainly have a lot to think about now. Thanks again,"
Dan Rothstein, Guitar (New York)

"Hello Armen, Hoping this finds you and Rose very well. Thank you for your guidance and hospitality; the workshop was wonderful. I look forward to sharing the breakthroughs I have enjoyed since we concluded. I had a great gig the Wednesday after our session. I was present to greater freedom, creativity and accountability on the bandstand. As questions and observations come up, I will look forward to sharing them with you. Thank you very much. Talk to you soon." Best, Jerry Weimer, Clarinet (New York)

"Dear Armen and Marc, Thank you for a wonderful three and a half days in your creative atmosphere at Hudson Jazz Works! Thank you for the effort of all the pre-workshop travel suggestions, daily schedule printing and following to the letter and the contact information for all of those great students. Also, the detailed planning involving class presentations, organization of daytime and evening activities and the selection of a seasoned and wonderfully gentle guest soloist, Reggie Workman, who offered his own take on interpreting composition and freedom of soloing within those two frameworks. Thank you also for the tour of your wonderful property with its lush woods, hillside and gardening efforts and treasures and for opening your home and spacious studio for our use. It was inspirational hearing the class lectures from you both and there was a special personality offered when Reggie offered his bass to use when the student bassist's bridge collapsed. That, to me, was going far beyond what Reggie was invited to do. He is not only a talented man full of experience, but also a generous soul. The sound of his bass was phenomenal, wasn't it? The meals on the deck were again delicious and thoughtfully presented. I very much enjoyed my accommodations at the Kipp Farm. Thank you for saying that you liked my playing in Reggie's master class. I enjoyed the freedom and imagination involved. Thank you for an inspirational Jazz Workshop. All the best to you as you wind up this summer!"
Sincerely, Donna Wood, Flute (New York)

"Hi Armen, Words cannot express how I honored I feel to have been a part of this evening last night. Thank you so much for allowing me to photograph this. It was so inspirational and touching to see the mutual respect between instructors and students, which added something extraordinary to this concert that I am sure every person in that room felt. This is such a wonderful gift. How lucky are we to have something like this in our community. You are inspiring me to look something up everyday to learn more about music."
Best Regards, Susan Sabino, Photographer (Massachusetts)

"It was a pleasure to be at the workshop and I admire the energy both you and Marc invested into the three days."
(Angela Davis, Australia, 2011)

"I cannot even begin to describe how much I enjoyed the workshop. Thanks so much to you, Rose and Marc for allowing me to participate with this group of extremely talented musicians." (Joe Gold, USA, 2011)

"I was very pleased to know earlier this summer how far you have come with the Hudson Jazz Workshop and how you now have the organization and setting in place for giving more aspiring jazz musician the same kind of experience I've been so lucky to experience three times by now. You create a very special and inspiring learning environment that leaves no participant unchallenged - and unchanged - after the three days...For me the workshop has been a lifechanger in more than a musical and artistic sense. And I'm grateful for that." (Thomas Blomseth, Denmark, 2007-09)

"I'm so pleased to hear about this year's workshop. Hudson Jazzworks has been gaining traction year-by-year - and you deserve it. I especially like you're building a stronger connection to the Opera House. That was a very cool place to do a concert." (Thomas Blomseth, Denmark, 2007-09)

"Good luck for the concert tomorrow. Wish I was there. I miss you both (Marc Mommaas also); although Rose and her cooking are features of the workshop not to be dimissed so easily." (Pierre Guillemette, Quebec, 2010)

"I am so very happy and glad to have met you again! The workshop has been wonderful, I really cannot make up an idea before coming there! Your teaching is always admirable, and Marc is very fine too. Everything for me has gone the best way: a sweet place, your home, very good and enjoying scholars and good music. I'm now beginning to realize that I have been with you all in the States, and realizing what perhaps I learnt: Well, I think to have learnt a very good way to go on my working life in music, just the way I feel it, with a plenty luggage of precious suggestions and challenges. Thank You!! You and Rose have been so much fine to make me guest in your home, it has been a beautiful surprise after my long trip from home, and so kind from you both to think of it. Armen, I can't find the words to really say how much I am glad and satisfied of this marvellous occasion! I find something very important and very well done, and also I lived something which I never did in Italy: now I know I had to come, it was great!! For now Armen thank you so much for everything and for the great sincere love you and Marc put into those wonderful four days!! Please send Rose my best greetings and thanksgiving!" (Giacomo Franzoso, Italy, 2011)

Hi, I valued the workshop even more than the year before, which is high praise in my book.
I thought you struck the right balance between group playing, jamming (even though I was getting tired after 9 pm, I still liked playing till 10 pm), group discussion, private lessons/attention; communal activity (food/conversation); and an opportunity to play in a public concert. I especially value the experience of playing with musicians more talented than me. A real treat
. - Steven Hartman, saxophone

Armen, I loved your workshop with Marc. Very inspiring! - Fred Haas, saxophone & piano

Dear Armen, I just finished converting and reviewing the recordings I made at the workshop. Wow!!! Every moment of the lessons and conversations contain gems of information to be practiced and absorbed! I can’t thank you and Marc enough for teaching and sharing! I’ve already begun the rhythm exercises. There is no way I will not get this under my belt!! Thank you for showing the way, and for the inspiration to follow!
Please thank Rose. Every thing was fantastic!! It’s impossible to beat homemade muffins and yogurt, fresh from the garden soups and vegetables, the very special farewell BBQ, on and on. It seemed effortless -- the sign of a great hostess. We know it was not!! Thank you, Rose!!
It was a treat to hear Jim McNeely. Struggling to write my first ‘composition’, it was very good to get his insight, not only on the creative part of composing and arranging, but also on the logistics of getting thoughts down using the computer. I’m sorry I missed the name of our special guest percussionist [Vanderlei Pereira] at the concert. I spoke with him afterwards to express my amazement at how much beauty he made with one small hand-held instrument. What a nice, nice man with such a beautiful spirit, and so willing to share. Thank you for inviting him to play.
Finally, thank you for all your efforts BEFORE the workshop. I don’t know what magic you performed -- but the people who gathered at the camp were all wonderful, and were, in themselves, an inspiration. And thank you for your thoughtfulness in placing me with Bill and Val, so close to your home. They were wonderful hosts! The whole workshop was a beautiful experience. This really hit home yesterday when I shared with my Mother the pictures I took at the workshop. Some of the better ones are attached. I will be thinking of you all year as I listen and count ... :) Thank you, again!!
- Audrey Goldsmith, piano

Thanks again for opening up your home to us. It was such an incredible few days! It was so inspirational (both musical & culinary) I can't even begin to describe how motivating. - Ellynne Plotnick, piano

…A million thank you’s for the workshop this summer-I really felt like I grew a lot while I was there, and it has given me a lot of inspiration, as well as a lot to think about with where I'm at and what I want out of my life. Can you keep me posted on the plans for next year? I'd really like to rope off the weekend it's going to be next summer, as I'd really enjoy getting to participate in it again. It was a great experience for me, and I'm sure a year from now it will mean even more to me as a person and as a musician!!! - Billy Test, piano

Thanks again for a really inspiring and productive workshop. Only regret? It wasn't longer. And thank Rose for me, for her hospitality and great cooking. - Steve Hartman, Tenor Saxophone

I benefited greatly from participating.  There was a positive spirit in the air at all times; it was inspiring.  I have a strong desire to be a better player, to dedicate myself, and that is due to your approach to teaching and ability as musicians. - Doug Lehman, piano

The workshop was very challenging but also very rewarding. You and Marc had some really necessary and useful feedback for me. I really enjoyed meeting all the other participants. The diversity made for a very rich experience. - Dan Sedia, guitar

You and Marc were an inspiration to me. I dropped into your world briefly and came away approaching music with a new calm and flow. You both found a way to connect  to the varied degrees of musical experience and abilities. I'm looking forward to booking time with myself and using the techniques that you and Marc spoke about. Thank you so much for your wisdom and experience and offering up your home and studio. I also want to thank Rose for her fine cooking as well as how she connected to all of us at meals and with her welcoming spirit. .......
I continually strive for the sounds and ideas I hear in your playing. The colors that come out of your choice of chords, voicings, rhythms, accompaniment, dynamics, contrasts of single notes and chord melodies create a flowing bed of sound as if conceived in nature. I think about some of the comments that came from both you and Marc in the workshop. You both not only demonstrated beautifully the ability to compliment and support each other in your duo playing, you spoke about the importance of listening and responding to each other. This is a critical piece for me. - Robert Kelley, piano

Thank you all again for a wonderful workshop and weekend.  I have not had very much time yet to put into practice many of the things we discussed during the workshop due to work obligations and a planned vacation from which I just returned.  I have, however, had time to reflect on the weekend (vacations are great for reflection) and what I have done to date.  In retrospect, I think it will be the intangible things that I took away from the workshop that will prove to be (and have already proven to be) of great value to me -- even more so, I believe, than the many excellent specific practical suggestions that were provided. 
I can tend to be overly critical of myself and my playing to the point where I lose sight of the beauty and enjoyment of the music itself.  I find that, since the workshop, I am more cognizant of this and generally am more capable of enjoying practicing and playing (although the critic is not far away :-)).  As a result, I find myself taking a few more risks in my playing (which is not always an easy thing for me).  I'm not certain exactly what caused the increased awareness, but I attribute it in part to the positive workshop environment and the joy that was apparent in each of your own playing. 
I also am trying to be more creative, yet focused in my practicing.   I am making a concerted effort to spend time on fewer areas, but in a greater amount of depth.  As a result of one of Marc's comments, I am spending time revisiting tunes that I had worked on before, but had not learned well .. before going on to learn new tunes.
As far as the workshop itself, I think you did a great job of striking a balance between a challenging learning environment and a fun time overall. The small group provided an intimacy and ultimately, I believe, led to a trust among the participants, that removed some of the initial fear and uncertainty and provided an environment that was conducive to experimentation and creativity.   Working on Cathlene's original tune for the concert rather than focusing solely on standards was a good experience for me and forced me to step outside my "comfort zone."  
Rose, I know you've heard this over and over, but it is worth repeating: your food was superb.   Thank you (and Armen) also for opening your beautiful home to us for the purposes of the workshop. - Larry Eckert, alto saxophone