In the wake with former jazz student Annie Booth | music college
Jazz pianist, conductor and composer/arranger Annie Booth (BM ’11, MM ’20) has been an active presence in the Colorado jazz community for many years, and has been named one of “Denver’s Top Ten Jazz Musicians(Westword) last August. For her, studying and serving as a graduate teaching assistant at our College of Music was a period of professional growth that prepared her for a multifaceted musical career.
“My experiences at CU Boulder, both undergraduate and graduate, have been invaluable,” says Booth. “I was part of the Concert Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Combos, which helped shape my career in different ways. In undergrad, I became comfortable playing in these settings and learned to act professionally. At the graduate level, I did a lot of composing for the band, so it was a great opportunity not only to have my music played by the ensemble, but also to gain the experience of conducting my own pieces.
Today, Booth is on the faculty of the Lamont School of Music and has many ongoing projects. She was recently selected as a commissioned composer for the 2022 Reno Jazz Festival, and leads and writes for the 18-piece Annie Booth Big Band. On June 24, she released “Alpenglow” – her album with the Annie Booth Sextet (watch for a single/preview this fall!) – and she is due to release another album in February 2023: “Flowers of Evil” – with College of Music faculty and alumni* – is a song cycle of eight poems by Charles Baudelaire which Booth set to music.
“I have the greatest respect for every person who chooses the path of professional musician,” she says. “It took a lot of versatility, flexibility, hard work, focus and intention on who I want to surround myself with. People who have helped me, whether it’s musicians I’ve hired to be part of my projects or of the mentors who have guided and pushed me, are very important.
“Finding out how to do it is an ongoing journey. There is no blueprint because the world and this career space is constantly changing. »
Also a passionate educator, Booth created the SheBop Young Women in Jazz Workshop in conjunction with the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, Colorado’s premier jazz camp for young women. As an extension of her pedagogy-focused master’s thesis, her mission is to create a strong, empowered community of Front Range women who express themselves through jazz music.
“Because jazz music is individualistic, everyone has their own voice,” says Booth. “It is a priority for me to communicate this message to my students, encouraging them to find freedom in their personal expression.
“Everyone is going to go their own way and do things differently. It is important that students use their teachers’ tools to help them make their voices heard at their own pace.
In addition to his workshop, Booth regularly offers jam sessions – these local Girls jams are open to girls and women of all ages and abilities.
In summary, Booth offers this career advice:
“Ask yourself, what serves me best in my path? There’s a fine line between saying ‘yes’ to exposure and being overwhelmed by opportunities. I’ve been trapped in m too engaging and I’ve learned to say ‘no’ to things that don’t serve my career goals.”
“Don’t get stuck in the way things have been done before. There are so many opportunities for us to share our music and collaborate with others. Keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for opportunities. That said, be sure to choose opportunities that serve your greater mission in music.
“Surround yourself with like-minded people. It can be hard to find that community, but researching jam sessions, open mics, community bands, etc. will help you find your group of people who will support you. you, be the best you can be and let people know who you are!Often it comes down to who knows you rather than who you know.
*Booth’s piece and his upcoming studio album, “Flowers of Evil”, features jazz teacher John Gunther (sax and clarinets) and associate professor of jazz studies Brad Goode (trumpet). The album also features a cast of alumni, including Dru Heller (MM ’15), Anisha Rush (BM ’16), Matt Smiley (DMA ’22), Rosalee Walsh (BM ’22) and Brian Woodbury (DMA ‘ 21).