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KoSA Drum Camp Celebrates Its 24th Edition in Montreal with a Star-Studded Faculty

KoSA Drum Camp celebrated its 24th edition in Montreal with a Star-Studded Faculty!

KoSA’s founders and directors, Aldo Mazza and Dr. Jolán Kovács, wellcomed percussionists from around Canada and the United States to the 24th edition of its drum and percussion camp in Montreal.

The sold-out event kicked off with Mazza’s classes in Cuban rhythms where he taught and performed on his unique hybrid drumset. This hybrid performance practice mixed African drumming, Cuban drumming, hand percussion of all types, electronic percussion and looping live in performance.

Sergio Bellotti followed with a masterclass on “Musical Coordination Applied to Comping and Soloing.” He motivated students to think musically and stressed the importance of learning repertoire. Later that afternoon, the one and only Steve Gadd casually walked into the KoSA Academy studio. Gadd gave a memorable workshop, up close and personal, covering a topic very dear to him and which seemed to be a common theme at KoSA this year: playing musically on the drums. Participants were deeply engaged as he explained in great detail his personal process and his approach. The KoSA directors then surprised Gadd with a Lifetime Achievement Award for “his incredible talent and highly original approach to session and studio drumming which changed history and placed him in a class of his own.” All class participants then received a complimentary ticket from KoSA to see the Steve Gadd Band at the Montreal International Jazz Festival the following evening.

On Thursday, the KoSA camp welcomed Melissa Lavergne, a highly-regarded Quebec-born musician who is the musical director and co-host of a popular Quebec TV show. Melissa expertly taught the participants djembe rhythms and by the end of the class, organizers says that even the most uninitiated player became comfortable while having fun. Lavergne herself explained that she was a former KoSA student who came to study at the KoSA programs both in Vermont and in Cuba. Now, as a first-time faculty member, she inspired students to keep learning and attend music camps to grow musically. Participants had a chance to “travel” next to India with McGill University professor, Shawn Mativetsky, who explained Indian rhythm concepts on the table with impressive performance demonstrations.

On Friday morning, the day began with a very informative session on specific topics dealing with the music profession such as contracting, and the challenges of new technologies (i.e. streaming, etc.) affecting the music profession. The round-table discussion was headed by Aldo Mazza along with Aldo Nova (renowned Canadian rock artist, and songwriter) as well as two members of the Canadian Federation of Musicians.

Canadian performer and educator, Evan Ritchie also gave a masterclass on the DITI/JamKat by Alternate Mode. The DITI incorporates many “gestures” designed for hand drum playing. Following this informative session, Dan Weiss presented his approach to tabla rhythms applied on the drumset while effortlessly maintaining an incredible funk and jazz sound.

On Saturday, the intense drum education sessions continued with the Chair of Percussion at Toronto’s Humber College, professor Mark Kelso. Kelso’s masterclass was entitled “The Joys of Metronomic Displacement” – a concept of time manipulation that is essential for every musician to learn. The participants then showcased their own passion for drumming on Saturday afternoon in their own concert that was open to the public.

Each evening the classes consisted of playing with the KoSA rhythm section and getting coached on how to improve their performances. All participants had a chance to play daily in the “rhythm section Labs” and receive constructive critique and perform alongside KoSA’s talented rhythm section: John Roney on piano and Solon McDade on bass. Their top-notch performances that afternoon showed how much they had learnt from all these great masters throughout the week.

On the last day, Canadian drummer, author, and clinician Stéphane Chamberland joined the KoSA faculty for the first time and gave a clinic on collapsing rudiments. To end the week, KoSA alumnus faculty Antonio Sanchez gave an interactive hands-on workshop on developing creative ideas when soloing. KoSA also honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for “ his great contribution in the world of jazz drumming and composing.”

A first-time KoSA participant, David Shiller of Toronto summed up his experience by saying, “Being immersed in drums all week and learning from such amazing players and educators gave me at least one year of stuff to work on!”

The KoSA Academy drum camp is sponsored by Sabian, Evans, Yamaha, Promark, Headhunters, Vic Firth, Alfred, Paiste ,LP and Zildjian The KoSA world is continuously in expansion with programs not only in Canada, the USA but also in Cuba ,Europe and in China.

For more information, go to www.kosamusic.com.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.