Jazzed: The Jazz Workshop Works It

A Conversation With Vicki Dugger

August March
4 min read
The Jazz Workshop Works It
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As jazz continues to make headway in Albuquerque with audiences and local players, you can count on the New Mexico Jazz Workshop to be there. Formed nearly 40 years ago with the mission of improving jazz education and performance in the city of Albuquerque and surrounding areas, NMJW has recently made some changes to its objectives and programming. This past week, Alibi met with NMJW Director Vicki Dugger to discuss how the organization continues to reach out to a town that is hungry for jazz.

Alibi: Vicki, can you tell our readers about your involvement with the Jazz Workshop?

I come from a background of nonprofit management, with over 20 years of experience working with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. An education and performance nonprofit like the NMJW is a wonderful new engagement for me. I feel very honored to come into this position because we’re getting ready to celebrate our 40th birthday. I came to Albuquerque from Oregon and started working as a volunteer at the NMJW. I was asked to take over various aspects of the organization’s operations, was working all the shows too. Eventually, I left that, but then came back as development director. Our former director really wanted to spend more time with her music, and I was ready to step up.

What ideas and vision do you have for the organization?

I want to expand programming as well as education efforts. I want to build collaborative communities. I think that creating new and innovative ways of presenting great music in this city is one of my main objectives. I think we should honor the past but also bring forward those acts that represent the future of jazz. We want to bring people of all ages into the picture. Right now our jazz audience is aging. We want to find ways of reconnecting to our audience and to develop a new audience too.

How do young people figure into this vision?

Musically, in America, nearly everything came out of blues and jazz. Hip-hop and R&B—very popular among the youth—are related to jazz. We want people to know about that connection. For example, we’re sponsoring a beat-boxing class. Our new education coordinator, Elena Maietta, came in with some great ideas. She’s connected to the demographic that we want to interest, and the class is going to be fantastic as a result.

I read you’re also sponsoring a ukulele class later this summer.

We’re doing that class for people who may not be more than hobbyists at this point in their musical lives, but want to expand their horizons. Local multi-instrumentalist and percussionist John Bartlit is teaching it. He’s all over the ukulele lately. He’s incredible.

What other sorts of activities do you have in store for the folks in this city?

We have an awesome performance schedule planned through the summer into the beginning of fall. Our season’s going to close out with
a big show in Madrid on Sept. 27, the Madrid Blues Festival. That’s at the Madrid Ballpark, which has been totally redone. We started that festival back in the day, were gone for about 10 years, and then last September came back with a revitalized version of it. We’re expecting at least 500 listeners and maybe upwards toward 1,000.

That’s the icing on the cake of your summer season. What else can patrons expect?

We met and decided it was time to give the summer series a bit of a makeover. We took out some of our more traditional offerings and replaced them with innovative new takes on jazz, like
Ladies and Gents Singin’ and Swingin’ in the Club, a show that presents singers like Marietta Benevento, Carla Van Blake and Helene Yvonne Roybal in a club-like atmosphere. We’re having fun; it’s a progressive summer season for all.
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