Will there be in-person Jazz Camp this summer?

Who’s ready to play jazz in-person with other musicians? We certainly are, and we hope you are, too.

Our jazz education courses for summer 2021 now include in-person ensembles! These combos will meet at Menlo College in Atherton, California. There will be two new programs: Evening Combo Option and SJW Combo Camp.

Our Evening Combo Option is available exclusively to musicians who are enrolled in one of our online programs, either Jazz Camp Online or Jazz Institute Online. Adding the Evening Combo Option to your online program transforms it into the best hybrid jazz education program available!

The SJW Combo Camp offers daytime opportunities for in-person small ensembles. Combos will meet for three hours per day, beginning at either 10:00 a.m or 2:00 p.m. Combo Camp is offered during the same dates as Jazz Camp Online (July 12 – July 16 and/or July 19 – 23) and Jazz Institute Online (July 26 – 30), so it’s not possible to enroll in both concurrently. But you could enroll in Jazz Camp Online and add the Evening Combo Option during one week, and then take Combo Camp the next, for example.

All combos will be directed by our experienced jazz education faculty members, so you’ll learn a lot as well as play a lot.

All in-person programs will follow all state and local COVID-19 protocols.


Summer online jazz programs now open for registration

Last year, SJW had such overwhelmingly positive feedback to Jazz Camp Online that we decided to expand our summer jazz online experience with a new program for 2021: Jazz Institute Online.

Giving participants access to some of the great jazz musicians of the world, Jazz Institute Online is designed for adults 18 and over, though musicians age 17 and younger may audition for acceptance into the program. This week-long intensive jazz program offers four 75-minute live sessions per day, plus access to prerecorded lessons, panel discussions, performances, and fun live sessions such as the Charlie Parker Memorial Jam Session and the inspiring Morning Meetings.

Find out more about Jazz Institute Online by clicking here. 

Jazz Camp Online offers two 1-week sessions for students aged 18 and younger. Participants get four 40-minute live sessions per day in which they study and learn from some of the greatest jazz educators in the country. Fun events such as the Blues of the Week Contest and Charlie Parker Memorial Jam Session round out the week, and access to prerecorded lessons, master classes, panel discussions, and more give students a very deep dive into improving their jazz skills.

Find out more about Jazz Camp Online by clicking here. 

The dates for the programs are:

Week 1 Jazz Camp Online
July 11 – July 16

Week 2 Jazz Camp Online
July 18 – July 23

Jazz Institute Online
July 25 – July 30

Spring Miles Ahead programs for high school musicians: Which one is right for you?

We are very excited about our spring programs for high school musicians. The programs were very popular this past fall, and we had nearly 100 students participating, from all over the US, and in other countries, too!

We’re introducing a new program this spring, the Miles Ahead Institute, taught by Steven Lugerner. It’s a little different than our Miles Ahead Jazz Online program, and we want to help you to decide which of the programs is best for you. Most of the students who have signed up so far have signed up for both programs, which gives you a discount on the tuition, as well as an intensive 8-week program that will really improve your jazz playing.

Below is a comparison chart that will give you a little more detail about the two programs and how they differ. Please read over the program pages for each program as well, and don’t hesitate to contact our faculty and camp director, Steven Lugerner if you have any questions at [email protected].

Find out more about Miles Ahead Jazz Online by clicking here.

Find out more about Miles Ahead Institute by clicking here. 

SJW faculty artists put the swing into “Soul”

SJW cancels 2020 Stanford Jazz Festival

In compliance with directives from Stanford University regarding cancellation of summer camps and programs, and heeding the recommendations of state and local health officials, we have come to the painful decision to cancel the 2020 Stanford Jazz Festival, concerts of which were scheduled to be held on the campus of Stanford University, between June 20 and August 1.

We know this news will be as much of a disappointment to our ticket buyers and performers as it is to all of us here at Stanford Jazz Workshop, as we’ve been looking forward to immersing ourselves into music this summer with all of our friends. We will of course miss the joy, inspiration and revitalization that comes with the direct connection to our jazz community, though our primary concern now is the health and safety of our students and their families, our faculty, and our staff. We also want to ensure that we as a community do our part to halt the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 disease.

We are painfully aware of the negative impact this unprecedented action will have on the SJW community, particularly:

  • The 10,000+ patrons who look forward to being thrilled by the unique live performances at the Stanford Jazz Festival
  • The 700+ developing jazz musicians who count on SJW’s summer jazz immersion programs for inspiration, guidance, and community
  • The 100+ faculty artists who depend on SJW’s summer programs for community, growth, and income
  • All in our extended SJW family around the world

Ticket purchases will be refunded

We will issue a full refund for any tickets purchased, to any of the four concerts already on sale. Please allow up to 5 business days for the refund to reflect on your online credit card bank account. If you do not see your refund by Thursday, April 16, please contact the Stanford Ticket Office by emailing [email protected]. The entire Stanford Ticket Office staff is working remotely while sheltering at home, and we’re managing our operations as best we can. Thanks in advance for your patience.

You can help SJW to continue our important work with a donation

The response necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is devastating for arts organizations, and SJW is no exception. We want to assure you that, though our summer programs are canceled for now, our dedicated and caring staff is here and doing all they can to make sure that our important education and performance programs will be available to you again as soon as possible. We look forward to staying connected with you through social media and our e-newsletter.

If you would like to support our continuing work, you may waive your refund and convert your ticket purchase into a donation. To do so, simply reply to the notification email you received and indicate you’d like to donate your ticket purchase to SJW.

Alternatively, if you have capacity to contribute and help us to keep our operations going during this difficult time, please click on the link below:

We look forward to staying connected with you through social media and our e-newsletter.

We urge everyone to keep informed about this changing situation by visiting the following web sites regularly:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
California Department of Public Health
Santa Clara County Public Health Department
San Mateo County Department of Health

If you have any questions or concerns about our programs or our response to the threat of the spread of COVID-19 disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or by calling 650-736-0324. We want you all to stay safe and healthy during this difficult situation.  That is our primary goal, now and always, at SJW.  Please take care of yourselves, of your friends and families, and our communities.

SJW suspends after-school program; summer programs will proceed

Stanford Jazz Workshop’s highest priority is the health and safety of our students, their families, our patrons, and our faculty and staff. We have been closely monitoring the guidelines and protocols for protecting communities from the COVID-19 disease published by the Centers for Disease Control, Stanford University, county Health Departments, and the State of California. As of today (March 12, 2020) we are taking the following actions:

School- Year/After School programs

All after-school programs have been suspended, effective from March 12th through April 17th. We will reevaluate the situation prior to that date and will provide an update at that time. We will attempt to reschedule these cancelled sessions, if feasible, and may also explore online options for continuing. We will keep you apprised regarding these possibilities, as well as refunds for cancelled sessions, in the coming days.

Summer Programs

At this time, all summer educational programs are scheduled to proceed as planned. Registration is open for Giant Steps Day Camp, Jazz Camp, and Jazz Institute. Tickets for the Stanford Jazz Festival will be available soon.

If the CDC, other government agency, or Stanford University recommends cancelation of these programs, we will follow their guidance. There is no deadline, at this point, by which that will be definitively confirmed. If programs are cancelled, all participants will receive a full and complete refund. If you are currently registered for a summer program, we encourage you to remain registered to reserve your spot. However, given the circumstances, if you wish to cancel your registration due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus, we will waive all cancelation fees for cancelations received by April 17th. We will make further assessments regarding summer programs prior to that date.

It’s important to emphasize that, as far as we know, none of our students, faculty, or staff have confirmed cases of the virus. Confronting the challenges of a public health emergency like this can create discomfort and anxiety. We will continue to provide updates and guidance as soon and as often as possible via email and on our website.

We are in regular contact with organizations providing our facilities in order to align with policies governing their use during this uncertain time, including:

• Stanford University
• College of San Mateo
• San Mateo Unified High School District
• Sequoia Unified High School District
• Menlo Park City Schools
• The Harker School

As we get updates from our partners, we will inform our participants and their families, patrons, and staff of any changes to procedures and protocols that we must follow.

We urge everyone to keep informed about this changing situation by visiting the following web sites regularly:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
California Department of Public Health
Santa Clara County Public Health Department
San Mateo County Department of Health

If you have any questions or concerns about our programs or our response to the threat of the spread of COVID-19 disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or by calling 650-736-0324. We want you all to stay safe and healthy during this difficult situation.  That is our primary goal, now and always, at SJW.  Please take care of yourselves, of your friends and families, and our communities.

Jimmy Heath 1926 – 2020

Tour the 2019 Stanford Jazz Festival with Jim Nadel

SJW adopts the We Have Voice Code of Conduct for the Performing Arts

SJW is proud to partner with faculty artist Linda May Han Oh and the We Have Voice Collective to adopt their recently-released Code of Conduct for the Performing Arts, to create equitable and safer workplaces in the performing arts. SJW has always worked to make all artists, educators, students, employees, and jazz fans feel welcome, valued, and safe, and we feel strongly about supporting this initiative. You can find out more about the details of this positive step by reading the Code of Conduct here.

Learn more about the We Have Voice Collective in this article in the New York Times.

Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, thanks for the music!


By Jim Nadel, Artistic Director and Founder, Stanford Jazz Workshop

Downbeat has its 5 stars, Rotten Tomatoes has its percentages, but my favorite rating system is the SF Chronicle’s Little Man who can be seen in any one of five stages of attention and engagement: from jumping out of his seat while applauding, to the empty chair – presumably because the Little Man has walked out.

Over the decades at Stanford Jazz Festival, I’ve seen it all. Because of the nature of our interactive community where resident artists might hang out for a week and perform in fresh and inspiring combinations, we get more than our fair share of peak performances with the accompanying audience jaw dropping, exhilarated or even ecstatic states. Only once however, do I recall seeing people literally jumping out of their seats in amazement.

Over the course of twenty years at SJW, Ndugu Chancler’s virtuosity was ever present but only ever displayed when in service of the music. When he played with Ruth Davies at SJW’s annual Blues Night, he always gave exactly what the groove needed to feel great, move forward, and inspire the other musicians and the audience. When he performed with Victor Wooten and Geoff Keezer, or Patrice Rushen and Alphonso Johnson, the music grew more open and interactive, and Ndugu played brilliantly in the context of those ever-changing musical conversations.

At the same time, in SJW classrooms or when hanging out at the Coffee House, he was a beloved and inspiring teacher and over the years had a hugely positive influence on hundreds of SJW drummers and thousands of young musicians. Ndugu was from the tough-love school of teaching, and it worked so well for him because it was clear that the underlying love was always there. His honesty and direct, straightforward, no-nonsense nature resonated with young drummers. Combined with his deep musical knowledge, rhythmic wisdom, and excellent communication skills, he was able during his life to give a tremendous amount to a great many people.

Ndugu first came to SJW in the summer of 1997, a year in which we also featured Joe Williams and Louis Bellson, the Ray Brown Trio, Lou Levy, and many other artists. I remember that Charles Brown was the Blues Night guest that year.

A couple of moments from that early time that say it all.

Ndugu was playing drums in a faculty concert for students and community members. While trading fours, he first gave the audience a glimpse of his creative energy and advanced musical consciousness. When he opened up a little, even for just four bars, the music immediately felt elevated.

Later, during a solo drum feature, Ndugu started out simply and wove an engaging musical story that quickly drew people in and then kept them on the edge of their seats. The rhythm grew progressively more thrilling until everyone in the room was lost in the delight of the moment. And at that already joyful moment, it was as if a psychic booster fired and something truly miraculous happened as Ndugu took the entire room to a higher level of ecstacy. It may have been an added layer of polyrhythm coupled with virtuosic control of dynamics, tension, and release, but regardless, the room erupted in amazement with a physical response. Everyone felt it and several people around me involuntarily jumped out of their chairs!

The next day there was a lot of talk about this wonderful performance, and word got out that Ndugu had been invited to sit in at the Latin jazz concert scheduled for that evening on hand percussion, not on drum kit. There was a lot of interest in hearing this master of the drum set play hand percussion, and most of the student body showed up that night to check it out.

As the first song began, eyes were on Ndugu even though this night he’d have a more peripheral role. He picked up a cowbell, and I know a lot of people were thinking, “Get ready, because we’re about to hear some incredible cowbell playing like nobody’s ever heard!” As the song got going, Ndugu stood there listening, bell and drum stick ready in hand. He continued listening as the bars went by and the arrangement revealed itself a bit. Finally after about 32 bars, he played one single eighth-note on an upbeat, and that was it. Eight bars later he played it again, another single note. He was adding something to the rhythmic mix, but no more than what he felt would help.

Every note Ndugu ever played was in service of the music. He astonished us regularly with his musicianship, though he never let ego or technique for technique’s sake get in the way. This was who he was, in terms of music education. Observing his musicianship always provided a great lesson for everyone, whether in the classroom or in concert, regardless of whether he was taking the lead or adding subtle support.

Ndugu was an extraordinary man with a great spirit, and he made an immeasurable contribution to SJW. We and the world of music miss him.

Ndugu, thanks for the music!