MCCC Holds Week-Long Jam Session at James Kerney Campus ‘Jazz Institute’


West Windsor, N.J. – Music filled the streets of Trenton on Friday, Aug. 2, as Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Summer Jazz Institute hosted a concert at the James Kerney Campus (JKC). The concert was the culmination of a week’s worth of practice for students at the institute, led by Music Professor Scott Hornick and MCCC Music Faculty Jeanine Haden, Jim Holton and Joe Falcey.

Now in its second year, institute attendees, which include high school and college musicians, trained in an instrumental and vocal curriculum, including jazz theory, ear training, ensembles and improvisation throughout the week. Jazz musician Terell Stafford also joined students and faculty, hosting a master class that touched on everything from practice to performance.

A 1988 graduate of the University of Maryland, Stafford earned his masters of music from Rutgers University in 1993. His musical support system includes Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Watson – the former gave Stafford the opportunity to play and teach and the Lincoln Center, while the latter granted him entrance to the group Horizon. Currently, Stafford serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University.

The students appreciated Stafford’s perspective and jumped at the chance to ask him questions, to which Stafford offered insight into the mindset and habits that has driven his 30-year career in music.

“Practice doesn’t have to mean suffering,” Stafford told the students. “Find the routine that works for you,” he said, noting that he uses a three-part sequence that highlights technique maintenance, growth and musical exploration.

“We strived to give these students a comprehensive jazz education during this week,” Hornick said. “But sometimes the best things you can do are to talk, and play jazz,” adding that each day at the Institute ends with the students partaking in a jam session.

Friday’s concert was the jazz institute’s ultimate jam session, with the students, faculty, and Stafford teaming up to for an open air concert at JKC. Notes from standards like “Bye Bye Blackbird” rang throughout the campus, which was also hosting the JKC Gallery’s reception for the MCCC student and alumni photographic portraiture show, “A Figure Makes a Portrait.”

Students and faculty lauded the institute’s success in its second year. “We had students from a variety of levels take something away this week,” Hornick said. “They are extremely excited to use what they’ve learned back at their own schools and campuses.”

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Terell Stafford (left) with MCCC Music Professor Scott Hornick.

A pair of Jazz Institute attendees practicing for the Friday, Aug. 2 concert.

Vocalists serenading the crowd during the Jazz Institute's concert.

Stafford provided the students hands-on training throughout the week.