Counselor’s Skills Make Jazz Workshop a Success

The Summer Jazz Workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill would not be nearly as educational or be able to run as efficiently without counselor Rebecca Clemens’ revered organizational skills.

Clemens, 22, most commonly known as “Becca,” is a 2014 alumnus of the university entering her fifth year as head counselor for the workshop.

“Dr. Anderson approached me as a freshman in the jazz program to be a counselor because they did not have a girl,” Clemens said, referencing the workshop’s director Stephen Anderson. “After graduating and getting my educational licensure last year, I still wanted to be here. It’s a fun gig.”

A bass trombone player since the age of 10, Clemens remembers being in 7th grade and deciding that she wanted to pursue music as a career.

“I love spending time with the campers because they remind me of why I started playing in the first place,” Clemens said. “Usually I find them late at night holding little jam sessions with each other because they can’t get enough. It’s awesome to see their enthusiasm.”

In the first four years of the workshop, there were only two counselors, Clemens and Ryan Raven, a trumpet player and 2012 Music alumnus of UNC.

“Becca is one of those people that knows how to solve a problem even when the answer is not readily available,” Raven said.

Jim Ketch, a UNC music professor and former instructor to Clemens, echoed Raven’s sentiments.

“What sets Becca apart is her attitude and personality. She has good people skills,” Ketch said. “She is autonomous and intuitive. She anticipates problems, which makes her reliable. In basketball terms, she’d be the point guard.”

Scott Sawyer Q&A

1. Who is Scott Sawyer? Sawyer was born in Chicago. He was introduced to jazz and other music at an early age via his father’s record collection. In the beginning, it was the music of Jimi Hendrix and other rock and blues musicians that inspired Scott to seriously pursue music. Scott Sawyer loves to display his musical diversity, from his blues & rock roots, and also continuing to explore the jazz tradition & beyond. 

2. What type of music does he play? Sawyer plays Jazz. He was exposed to a variety of Southern roots music and blues, through collaborations with a number of NC-based musicians when he started, but Jazz-fusion and straight-ahead jazz eventually became a focal point.

3. Where has he performed? Sawyer has performed at major festivals, concert halls, in the US and outside the US. Some of the places he has visited are Asia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East, including Monterey Jazz Festival (CA), Herbst Jazz Festival (Austria), St. Lucia Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz, 2002 Silde Jazz (Norway); Ottawa Jazz Festival; Detroit Jazz Festival, Berlin Chamber Music Hall (Germany);  the Blue Note (NYC); Joe’s Pub (NYC); Catalina Jazz Club (LA)

Siden note- In the last year he has performed all around NC, with Durham and Chapel Hill being his main destinations.

4. Has he received any recognition for his work? Sawyer’s latest album “Dreamers” was released in November 2013 and in the 2014 Grammys he got 3 nominations. To listen and purchase his albums, they are available in iTunes.

5. Who does he collaborate with and what does he do now? He plays in quartets, In 1985, Sawyer toured Central America, as a member of the Jon Metzger Quartet. Through the years, Sawyer has performed and recorded with jazz singer Nnenna Freelon. Sawyer has also worked with Charlie Byrd, David Murray,  Marie-Christine Mouis, Willie Pickens, Ed Thigpen, Bob Cranshaw, Dave Finucane, Keith Ganz, Oteil Burbridge, Melissa Reaves, Tony Williamson, Kate McGarry, Bruce Piephoff, Ghezzi, Lois Deloatch-Gomes, Jon Lucien, Bill Anschell, Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos.

Sawyer is an Adjunct Teaching Instructor at East Carolina University, He’s also Lecturer of Jazz Guitar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and instructs group classes at the Durham Jazz Workshop.


Local Jazz Band’s New Tracks a Hit at UNC

As Dave Finucane gracefully presses the keys on his tenor saxophone during a low tempo progression, Stephen Anderson is attentive to his every note. He counters it with his own melody on the piano and the crowd erupts into applause mid-song at the expertise of his solo.

That same crowd reaction was common throughout the night during 360 Jazz Initiative’s concert in Kenan Music Building at UNC-Chapel Hill Monday night. It was the first of five concerts taking place at the university during the week of June 15-19 as part of the UNC Summer Jazz Workshop, culminating in a completely student-led combos showcase on Friday.

The concert was performed to celebrate the release of the initiative’s first Summit Records CD, “Distracted Society.”

Anderson, an associate professor in the music department at UNC, founded the workshop seven years ago to provide a highly immersed jazz program to students ranging from middle school age to college age. Anderson has served as the director since and is also the pianist for the initiative.

“Making these songs was some of the most challenging work I have done,” Anderson said.

The rest of the band is composed of Jim Ketch, John Parker, Scott Sawyer, Jason Foureman, Dan Davis, and Juan Alamo who play the trumpet, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, respectively.

“Fish Wars,” a song about the everlasting UNC-Duke rivalry, was met with a prolonged standing ovation as it capped off the night.


To learn more about 360 Jazz Initiative’s music go to