An entertaining and educational weekend of outstanding jazz that will bring together top professional artists, clinicians and hundreds of college, high school, and junior high musicians for clinics, competitions and great performances.
Kirk Covington is one of the most versatile and dynamic drummers in the world. His crowd-pleasing personality and vocal ability have been a driving force in the success of the world-renowned jazz fusion group Tribal Tech featuring guitarist Scott Henderson, bassist Gary Willis and keyboardist Scott Kinsey.
Covington was born into a musical family in Midland, Texas. The youngest of five children, he was encouraged to begin playing drums at age seven by his brother Kyle, who played the guitar. By age 12, Covington was a full-time “garage band junkie” and at age 15, he was borrowing the family truck and hauling his drum kit to rock ‘n’ roll and country gigs around the region.
Covington was introduced to jazz through his parents, who loved swing and big band. With little formal training, he entered the internationally renowned North Texas State University jazz program. Covington eventually landed the drum chair in the famous Two O’clock Lab Band, a position that also would create many relationships with now-famous players, including a young bassist named Gary Willis. After college, Covington and Willis continued to work together in Condor, one of the most popular jazz fusion bands in the region.
By this time, Covington had developed a naturally powerful and very soulful vocal style that, combined with his ever-growing skills as a drummer and keyboardist, made him one of the most sought-after players in the Dallas area. Encouraged by the success that Willis and other North Texas musical associates found by relocating to Los Angeles, Covington packed up his family and moved there as well.
In early 1991, Tribal Tech was searching for a new drummer who could carry the group into the next decade. The search ended with Willis’ old Texas friend Covington. Covington’s success in Tribal Tech has propelled him into the spotlight as the animated backbone of “Tribal” shows worldwide.
Covington’s inventive drumming has been captured on numerous “Tribal” releases. He also has performed or recorded with noted musicians including Joe Zawinul, Robben Ford, Allan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson and John Humphrey.
John Clayton has been playing bass since he was in elementary school. In 1969, at the age of 16, he enrolled in bassist Ray Brown’s jazz class at UCLA, beginning a close relationship that lasted more than three decades. By age 19, he had become a bassist on Henry Mancini’s television series “The Mancini Generation” and later graduated in 1975 from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music with a degree in bass performance. He went on to tour with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra before taking the position of principal bass with the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 1980-1985.
In 1985, Clayton returned to California to work more on jazz and jazz composition. He soon founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with his saxophonist brother Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton. He and his brother also founded The Clayton Brothers Quintet, which has featured instrumentalists such as Bill Cunliffe and Terrell Stafford. From 1999 through 2001, Clayton served as Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
Clayton has composed and/or arranged for such notable artists as The Count Basie Orchestra, Diana Krall, Whitney Houston, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Ernestine Anderson, Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, Till Bronner, and The Tonight Show Band. His career highlights include arranging “The Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at Super Bowl 1990 (the recording went platinum), playing bass on Paul McCartney’s CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on “Songs of Joy and Peace” and arranging, playing and conducting the 2009 CD “Charles Aznavour With the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.” He has won numerous awards for his work, including a Grammy Award and the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s Composer/Arranger Award.
Clayton has served as the musical director of several jazz festivals, including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival, Santa Fe Jazz Party, Jazz Port Townsend Summer Workshop and Vail Jazz Workshop. He also teaches at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and has served as president of the International Society of Bassists.