Samba Meets Jazz Workshops return to Europe.

Written by | News, Workshops

The Samba Meets Jazz Workshops, directed by Brazilian-born, multi-Grammy Nominee Nilson Matta (bassist for, Trio da Paz and Luis Bonfa) will be returning to Europe this April for the first time after the pandemic. Following the success of previous years workshops in Europe. The coming workshops will take place in the Belgium city of Ghent from April 17 to 21 at Paulushuis and once again will be under the direction of bassist Nilson Matta.

The workshop offers a 5-day Vocal, Instrumental and Tap Dance workshop for adults of all levels and musical backgrounds. Samba Meets Jazz Workshops have been organizing international workshops for the past 12 years. Spring 2017 marked their inaugural program in Europe (Ferrara, Italy) after 5 years of programs in Brazil and the United States. Since then their European programs have included workshop programs in Ferrara, Lisbon, Portugal and Sicily and have drawn students from all over Europe, the United States and beyond.

The Samba Meets Jazz Workshops are based in the U.S and are one of the very few programs worldwide that specializes in integrating Brazilian music studies with jazz. The workshops artistic director, Brazilian bassist Nilson Matta is known as a true force in the evolution of Brazilian jazz in the United States and has played, performed and recorded with Brazilian icons including João Gilberto, Hermeto Pascoal and Luis Bonfa, not to mention his longstanding engagements with jazz luminaries Joe Henderson, Don Pullen, Kenny Barron, and YoYoMa (Obrigado Brazil).

Working directly with Matta, instrumental and vocal participants will learn authentic rhythms, harmonies and phrasing of the various styles of Brazilian music – from the well-known bossa nova and samba to baião and more. SMJ Executive Director, Alice Schiller stated: “Whether your a vocalist or instrumentalist, whether your new to Brazilian music or seeking to enhance repertoire and skills, this is a unique opportunity to learn directly from the source.” One of the unique aspects of the workshops to held in Ghent is the addition of Tap Dance. Led by internationally renowned Brazilian tap dancer / educator / choreographer Felipe Galganni, the program is a unique opportunity to learn Brazilian rhythms, execute them in tapping, and apply these to Brazilian tap repertoire choreographed by Galganni. Participants will experience live accompaniment by SMJ’s instrumental faculty, and have option to join instrumentals in Batucada (Brazilian Carnival percussion) sessions. Detailed information on the tap program can be found here.

Instrumental participants will interact directly with each of our faculty members in the context of classes in the topics listed below. With a maximum of 2 combo ensembles, participants are assured of personalized attention and guidance. The program includes:

  • Daily ensembles in both Jazz and Brazilian music
  • The Power of Rhythm
  • Harmony & Improvisation
  • Brazilian & Afro-Cuban Rhythms, Styles & Phrasing
  • Arranging
  • Encounters with Faculty – Special Topics/Presentations
  • Faculty-led jams (yes … faculty join in!)
  • End-of-Week Student Performance

In addition. the schedule is designed to provide participants ample opportunity to explore cultural sites during the day and to enjoy Ghent’s fine cuisine and nightlife.

For those not familier with Ghent, the city is a port city in northwest Belgium, at the confluence of two rivers – the Leie and Scheldt During the Middle Ages, it was a prominent city-state. Today it’s a university town and cultural hub. Its pedestrianized center is known for medieval architecture such as 12th-century Gravensteen Castle and the Graslei and Korenlai docks, a row of guildhalls beside the Leie River harbor. The historical ports are recognized as the most beautiful spot in the city. After a mandatory boat ride and getting the best picture of the former port, you can discover Belgium’s beer and indulge in Belgian’s chocolate culture in one of the many cafe patios!

Most of the tourist attractions such as the Christmas market, the Gravensteen castle and St Bravo’s Cathedral are mostly concentrated in the city centre. The city streets are highly accessible, and the best way to tour the city is on foot through the impressive sidewalks from where you can admire the city’s medieval architecture and enjoy the fresh sea breeze.

Joining Matta as part of the faculty will be the renown Belgium guitarist, composer, vocalist and educator Jeanfrançois Prins. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Brussels. Prins moved to New York City in 1993 where he quickly became a part of the cities contemporary jazz scene. During his career, Prins has been performed and recorded with artists such as Toots Thielmans, Lee Konitz, Ivan Lins, Eddie Gomez, Judy Niemack, Quincy Jones. In addition to his performing and recording career Jeanfrançois has also been active as a composer for film and TV including the soundtrack for the short film Coriolis, for the Discovery network. In early 1999, the French-speaking Belgian television (RTBF) produced a special documentary feature about his international career, both as a musician and educator: Brussels – Berlin – New York – Jeanfrançois Prins. It was aired on the worldwide French language channel TV5 in the summer of 1999.

Also on the faculty for the program in Ghent will be Belgium based Saxophone player John Snauwaert. During his career John has traveled extensively and performed with jazz masters as Lowell Fulson, Isaac Hurley, Gene Bertoncini, Bob Mover, Gary Smulyan, Nilson Matta, Dick Oats, Roni Ben-Hur, Jeff Gardner.

Adding an extra dimension to the team this year in Ghent is Brazilian Tap Dance and choreographer Felipe Galganni. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Galganni started his training in dance and theatre at the age of 10. Mentored by Heather Cornell (Manhattan Tap), Felipe moved to New York City in 2010 to further his education in tap. Since then he has had the honour of working with such great names as Tony Waag, Max Pollak (Rumba Tap), Chikako Iwahori, Lynn Schwab, Ray Hesselink, Michelle Dorrance and Derick K. Grant. Felipe has performed at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Joseph Papp’s Public Theater (Joe’s Pub), The NY Summer Stage, The Citigroup Alvin Ailey Theater, The Cotton Club, The Metropolitan Room, The Bronx Museum, The New York City Center, Lavo NYC, Arlington Club, and others. As a Team Leader of New York’s Tap City festival, Felipe was interviewed by NBC Channel 4 in 2014. In 2018 he was awarded the prestigious Machado de Assis medal for his work fusing tap dance with bossa nova and other Brazilian rhythms.

The Samba Meets Jazz innovative tap dance program merges the study of traditional Jazz with Brazilian and Latin jazz. Tap dance is an expression of rhythm, articulation, melodic interpretation and phrasing. With this in mind, tap participants will have a unique opportunity to further foster their skills by interacting and working with members of Samba Meets Jazz’ music faculty.

This innovative program is a unique opportunity to learn Brazilian rhythms, execute them in tapping, and apply these to Brazilian tap repertoire choreographed by Galganni. Participants will experience live accompaniment by SMJ’s instrumental faculty, and have option to join instrumentals in Batucada (Brazilian Canirval percussion) sessions. Participation in a performance at the end of our week is optional. Participants should have basic tap dancing skills under their belt.

Samba Meets Jazz Workshops, now in its 12th year, is committed to making its programs accessible to all who have a passion for the music. Special rates have been set for European participants and college students, educators and working musicians are eligible for discounts.

Full details on the complete faculty for the instrumental and vocal program and prices can be found on the Samba Meets Jazz Workshop website here. For more information on the tap program click here.

Editors Note: Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a feature interview with Nilson Matta on this platform.

Last modified: February 28, 2023