The summer school aims to provide an intimate environment for practical music making and education in the jazz genre. Improvisation, jazz harmony, an exploration of various jazz idioms, and group performance will be the main areas covered. At the end of the week there will be the opportunity to perform to a live audience from the local community. We provide course materials and a download of musical examples.


The main concept behind the Dordogne Jazz Summer School is to combine the fun of a jazz course with a sun packed holiday. The area is of outstanding natural beauty with excellent local wine and cuisine at affordable prices. We strongly recommend that you don't miss out on at a least a little exploration of the region. Check out our links page for some ideas. Or download the pdf guide Things to do in Lot

Tutors Andrea Vicari, Jon Bratoeff, Yazz Ahmed, Duncan Eagles, Ian Bumstead

No beginners please. No Vocalists - (see vocal course). You need to have been on the first week or a similar course before, or have a good grounding in the basics from another source. Please give details of your training and experience when applying. Places will be limited so priority will be given to people who book for both weeks and to more advanced players - and of course those who book early. Please be aware that we have no control over applicants self-assement of their own ability. Which is why we call it "intensive" as opposed to "advanced" week. So there may be some students who are a little out of their depth. We divide the course up into groups according to ability to ameliorate this but it will always be mixed ability. On the other hand if you feel at all nervous that you might be out of your depth - you won't be alone.

We generally have a theme each day which acts as a prism with which to view the day's tunes and how to improvise on them….

The 2022 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Horace Silver Day Breaking the Mould ! Reinterpretation & creative approaches Rhythm day Joni Mitchell day Roy Haynes at 90

The 2021 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Chick Corea Day Playing by ear. A day without music ! Group composition Show tunes day African Jazz

The 2020 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
The art of developing a solo, narrative & techniques Be Bop - repertoire, language. 100 yrs ago Charlie Parker was born Focus on rhythm - How to really get that swing, how to groove and use rhythm as an improvisational tool. 100 YEARS of Brubeck and Peggy Lee Jazz that don’t swing ! (Music not swing e.g. funk, rock, latin, anything else!)

The 2019 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Reinventing the Standard Wayne Shorter Day Beyond Be-Bop Rediscovering Show themes Celebrating the music of female jazz composers

The 2018 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Fusion Day ‘Developing a compositional approach to soloing.” Celebrating Early Jazz
The Art of Playing Countermelodies.
The Lost Repertoire of Jazz. Joe Henderson Day

The 2017 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday 

Monk Day

‘World music day’ how this has affected jazz and core language ‘Back to swing with a focus on Charlie Parker’ ‘Jazz as a 21st art form and the new music emerging’ ‘How jazz has drawn on classical music and vice versa. How to incorporate some of these ideas into your improvising.’

In 2016 the themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
‘1980’s in transition’ 
The era of fusion jazz 
& extended composition.
‘Miles at 90’
His legacy
‘Riff Based Standards’ 
Repertoire and 
improvisational use.
‘Protest Music “
In light of the Brexit vote 
a celebration of  protest music!
‘European jazz” movement away from the American songbook.

In 2015 themes were
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday 
The Tools of improvisation ‘The art of playing Ballads’ ‘Getting a band to gel' rehearsal techniques working with singers. ‘Ornette Coleman and harmolodics.'  ‘Behind the lead sheet’
Looking at jazz standards and how to interpret a lead sheet.

Friday leads up to a grand final concert and groups revise and rehearse what they’ve studied during the week.
This year’s programme won’t be finalised until nearer the time.

A basic ability to play one's instrument is required and music reading would be helpful but not essential. The styles of jazz will include standards, bebop, modal, latin and contemporary. We divide the tutor groups into six levels according to ability initially according to what you write on the booking form.  There are "Option Groups" such as BIG BAND / SALSA BAND / SOUL BAND / MINGUS BAND / SUPER SAX / MONK BAND etc. which break up the day .

Tutors: Mark Lockheart, Andrea Vicari, Nic France, Jon Bratoeff, Jez Franks, Andy Baker


Tuition on individual instruments is not available due to pressure of time. It's only a week's course. There will however be the opportunity for students to attend master-classes by a guest tutor and to receive tuition in small groups on their own instrument.
10.00 Improvisation workshop e.g. Pentatonics.
Learning of the blues scales and it's relationship to the pentatonic family of scales; using pentatonics over chord sequences; pentataonic based harmonies and their wider use in jazz; chord make-up & voicings; swing rhythm vs. 'straight eights' (rock rhythm); and listening and analyzing performances from famous jazz artists who use this tool - such as McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea etc
11.30 Coffee break

12.00 Group music making/small bands. This will involve putting into practice concepts studied that morning. e.g. Learning some blues tunes, rehearsing the numbers, constructive criticism of improvisation and the ensemble. Studying the role of each instrument within the particular style.

1.00 Lunch in the Chateau de Monteton restaurant

2.30 Different each day
Previous years have included activities such as MASTER CLASSES / BIG BAND / SALSA BAND / SOUL BAND / MINGUS BAND / SUPER SAX /MONK BAND etc. example:
Saxophone Masterclass led by (for example) Mark Lockheart

A performance of some well known standards by the tutors' band with particular emphasis on the role of the saxophonist in jazz. Areas covered will include how harmony and melody are best interpreted on the instrument; improvisation, scales and patterns. Practical issues will also be covered such as breathing, embouchure, intonation and creating a good tone. All students will be encouraged to attend and ask questions. Particularly confident saxophone students will be invited to play with the tutors.

4.00 Free Time Left open for individuals to choose their own pursuits. These could include individual practice time; extra tuition in the areas covered that day; small group rehearsals for the evenings jam; classes in particular areas requested by students, or simply enjoying the area and relaxing with a glass of wine.

6.00 Aperitif Jam
An informal session in which students can try out what they've learned (and maybe teach us a thing or two !) in a relaxed 'Jazz Club' atmosphere accompanied by fine wines of the region. Music will be drawn mainly from the standard jazz repertoire. This is also a chance for students to suggest music they would like to play, and for tutors to learn the strengths and weaknesses of course members in order to better structure lessons to their needs.

7.00 Tutor led performances Each tutor leads their workshop group in performing the pieces they've learned that day.

8.00-9.30 Dinner in the Chateau de Monteton restaurant or terrace. Often accompanied by tutor performances , dinner jazz sets and enthusiastic students who just can't stop playing !

9.30 Late night jam session
Play all night (if you like) in the Cave . In past years students jammed far into the early hours with short breaks for drinks in the bar and a quick game of "Kinito", the local dice game. This session is unsupervised and students take responsibility for organising their own bands and music. NB the "Cave" where the jam sessions will be held is in the basement of a different tower to the sleeping accommodation, (and behind several feet of mediaeval masonry), so those students wanting an early night will be free to do so undisturbed.
Dordogne Jazz Summer School  +44 20 8764 6478 mob +44 79 4192 7257