Vail Jazz welcomes new programming direction for 2023 festival

John Clayton, director of the Vail Jazz Workshop, will assume the role of interim artistic director.
Vail Jazz/Courtesy photo

Vail Jazz is pleased to announce the 29th Annual Vail Jazz Festival will return to Vail July 11 through Sept. 4, 2023, under the artistic direction of John Clayton with the support of Drew Zaremba. Vail Jazz is poised to thrive in 2023 with renowned artistic and educational leadership, and a strong commitment to carry on the legacies of the late Howard Stone, Tony Gulizia, and Jeff Clayton.

Effective immediately, John Clayton will assume the role of Interim artistic director, bringing nationally acclaimed musical entertainment to the 29th Annual Vail Jazz Festival and Vail Jazz Party, while continuing to lead the Vail Jazz Workshop. Annual Festival programming will continue under Clayton’s direction, while he helps guide Vail Jazz in securing a long-term successor to this role.

Clayton has directed the Vail Jazz Workshop since its inception in 1996. He remains a major creative and educational force for more than 300 workshop graduates and extends his devotion to music education instructing at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. The Grammy winner, who is also an eight-time Grammy nominee, serves as president of the International Bassists Society and Artistic Director of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival and Centrum Jazz Workshop.

“John has been the bedrock of our workshop program, consistently elevating and expanding our curriculum fostering the next generation of artists,” said Amanda Blevins, the executive director of Vail Jazz. “We are honored to have him embrace this role with a celebrated artistic roster that will continue to demonstrate the endless progression of the jazz art form”.

Effective immediately, Colorado musician Drew Zaremba will join the team supporting Clayton and his artistic vision as the new regional artistic director. Zaremba is an accomplished recording artist, arranger, composer, music educator, and frequent Vail Jazz Festival performer. He is also the aartistic director of the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra and faculty member of the award-winning UNC jazz studies department instructing jazz composition.

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“Drew is passionate and talented, and I say this having firsthand knowledge, as he is a former student of mine,” said John Clayton. “I’m excited about the traditional yet youthful approach he will bring to Vail Jazz community programming.”

For more information about the Vail Jazz Foundation and Festival, please visit or contact Jamie Cox (

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