James and Julian: A Unique Collaboration

If you were lucky enough to see them, best friends, James McFarland and Julian Van Dyke, often painted next to the main stage at the East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival. Crowds would gather to listen to the tremendous music, while watching the two men compose their colorful images.

Tragically, James passed away in 2017 from a sudden illness, leaving a space that can never be filled, for those who knew and loved him. Julian, a locally known artist of paintings and murals, has agreed upon a special work to be offered this year, as a symbol of their many collaborations.

Not only will Julian will be painting on a stage in the Albert Street parking lot (behind the Peanut Barrel), but a piece he and James did together in 2011, entitled “Joint Effort,” will be up for auction near that stage. This piece has been graciously donated by James’ daughters, Michelle Humes and Jessica Graham.

You will be able to bid at the event, if you wish. All proceeds go toward the festival itself.

“Joint Effort”, shown here, is 66 inches square. It is unframed and on canvas, and painted and signed by both artists.

Apart from his interest and work with water for healing, he was a studied artist and a musician in his own right. He was also a great fan of jazz music and The Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan. His family, who took over his Lansing based Hotwater Works, gave proceeds from some of his paintings to JAMM earlier this year, during a memorial birthday event held at the store in Lansing.

The festival staff and volunteers are so very grateful to the family for contributing this wonderful creation and beautiful memory of a unique friendship.

We all know the pain of losing someone very special. The jazz community in this area still feels this loss, especially at events like Summer Solstice, held just blocks from where James lived in East Lansing. He was always there, bringing his usual joyful presence and creativity.

Despite our sadness, we are grateful that his daughters Michelle and Jessica, and their spouses and children, are now part of our wonderful jazz family.

 

JAMM Members Do More Than Play Music!

There are at least three connections with Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan members to a special show on June 1 in Lansing, and only one is playing music!

UrbanBeat Event Center in Old Town Lansing

First, the venue, UrbanBeat Event Center, is owned by Terry Terry, a JAMM Founding Member and current 2018 member. He tells us he’s been wanting to use this space for years, as a jazz club, and other kinds of performances. Now, that’s a reality!

Connection number two on this is Elden Kelly, who will be performing with Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet on this evening, along with Carolyn Koebel, Igor Houwat, and Henrik Karapetyan. Elden is also a JAMM Founding Member and a local favorite among many members, as a guitarist, vocalist, composer and teacher.

The third connection is Candice Wilmore, JAMM’s current Secretary and the owner of a small company called Big Barn Productions. Some may recall the jazz shows she first started producing in the big red barn on Jolly and Okemos Roads, a few years ago. Big Barn is working on this June 1 show in the areas of public relations and promotion.

About this event, Candice says, “Whatever your concepts are of jazz, blues, funk or folk music, toss ’em out and come hear these unique and seriously talented players. You won’t be sorry.”

Dave Sharp, jazz bassist

If you don’t know about Dave Sharp, the group’s leader, he was born in Detroit, Michigan where he was inspired by the city’s deep musical heritage. While studying at the University of Michigan, Sharp became deeply devoted to the study of jazz and improvisation. This led to a move to San Francisco where Dave studied with legendary bassist Herbie Lewis (McCoy Tyner, Cannonball Adderley, Les McCann) at the New College of California.

While living in San Francisco, Sharp performed in art spaces and venues like Cafe Du Nord and the Fillmore, and served as bassist and composer for the modern jazz ensemble the Spheres of Influence. After a brief tour of Japan, Sharp returned home to the Ann Arbor area of Michigan, where he continues to compose, record, engineer, teach and perform live.

Click here for ticket information:
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3432500

 

JAMM Members to Perform at East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival!

Photo by Alexus McClane

Be sure to check out some of our outright favorite jazz performers and JAMM members and supporters, at the 2018 East Lansing Jazz Festival, June 22-23.

Friday at the Main Stage, named after JAMM Founding Members Al and Beth Cafagna, will be songbird and former JAMM Tribute Honoree Sunny Wilkinson. She’ll be there from 6pm – 7pm, so you’ll want to be sure to head over, find out where the festival will be parking us all (major construction as you likely know), and where the stages will be, so you can find a seat in in time to hear Ms. Sunny’s incomparable voice and fantastic song stylings. We hope to hear from her latest CD, “INTO THE LIGHT.” Do an online search to read reviews and learn more.

Sunny’s “favorite pianist” and husband, Ron Newman, also a Tribute Honoree and JAMM Founding Member, will be at the helm on the same stage, 9:30-11:00, directing the Lansing Symphony Big Band w/Benny Bennack, At the age of 27, Pittsburgh-born Benack III has been hailed by Nate Chinen of the New York Times as “a charismatic young trumpeter who maintains an earnest sideline as a singer”. As a dual-threat, he’s quickly established himself as one of the most versatile and virtuosic voices of his generation. 

At the MSU Outreach and Engagement Stage, our own JAMM Scholarship Band will open the festival, playing from 4pm – 5pm. Ian Levine will be sitting in on drums with Doug Fritch, on guitar, and also leading the band, all prior recipients of the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan’s Sandy Izenson Scholarship. The Education Stage is going to be located this year on Albert St, close to the intersection of Division.

Closing it out at this same stage on Friday is one of Lansing’s favorite sons, and great JAMM supporter and member, Phil Denny. He’ll be hitting at 9:30 and ending about 11pm, if the audience will let him stop playing! (Well, they’ll have to or the police will enforce the noise ordinance!) The funk comes out strong with this guy and so does the audience participation, so be sure to come over and see what’s goin’ on!

 

Whitaker, seen here, with students during 2017 summer sessions.

The MSU Big Band Symposium Orchestra, is a fantastic project started by another JAMM Founder and Director of MSU Jazz Studies, the preeminent Professor Rodney Whitaker. Two groups will perform, one at 3:00-4:00 and another, 4:30-5:30. You won’t want to miss these great kids, who come from across the country in June to study with MSU staff and students.

Orchestra Ritmo, Saturday at the Founder’s Stage, will go from 9:30-11:00 and finish out this wonderful festival. As many of you know, Mike Eyia is the leader of this stellar ensemble and has been a JAMM member, respected musician and great friend, for many years.

Meet 2018 JAMM Scholarship Recipient Justin Mason.

Julienne and Keith Mason, enjoying son Justin’s first performance with the JAMM Scholarship Band at Gregory’s Soul Food on Jazz Day.

Meet Justin Mason.

He is a junior at Okemos High School and one of two recipients of JAMM’s Sandy Izerson Scholarship Award, given in 2018. The Sandy Izerson Scholarship is given annually.

Justin has been playing trombone for seven years, since 5th grade, adding jazz to his interests in 7th grade, when eligible to join the school’s jazz band.

Justin states “The first experience that I can recall that really got me into
playing jazz was when I heard “Brooklyn” by the Youngblood Brass
Band.” The Youngblood Brass is a New Orleans-inspired brass group from
Wisconsin. “Brooklyn” written by Nat Macintosh, the sousaphone
player in the group, features multiple written trombone solos played by Matt
Hanzelka.

“It wasn’t long before I was absolutely obsessed, and recruited a
group of my friends to try and play the tune for our school’s 8th
grade talent show, though this didn’t exactly pan out.”

Justin said he didn’t actually start improvising until the next year, when he
joined the high school Jazz Ensemble, and began to discover more of
the jazz greats.

He states, “I slowly moved away from the harsher, older style of New Orleans
playing, and moved into the more “refined” styles exemplified in swing
and bebop. I started listening to Tommy Dorsey’s transcendent ballad
playing, echoed in the contemporary playing of Bill Watrous, and Carl
Fonanta, whose legacy is continued by Bob McChesney today. Other
favorites include Andy Martin, Wycliffe Gordon, and of course, JJ
Johnson.”

Cleary, Justin has a deep connection, not only to jazz, but to the trombone.
He made his first appearance with the JAMM Scholarship Band April 27 at
this year’s annual JAMM International Jazz Day event, The International Jazz
Day Dance Party, held at Gregory’s Soul Food in Lansing.

The audience was comprised of JAMM supporters and others
attending one of our events for the first time. It was great to present Justin as
the newest member of our musical family. His parents came as well, and
brought friends, so it was a very special event for the Masons, and for JAMM!

James McFarland Family Donates Sale of Art to JAMM

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James daughter Michelle Humes, left, gives check to JAMM Secretary Candice Wilmore

On March 24, 2018 a tribute to the Founder of Hotwater Works, Inc., James McFarland, was held on what would have been his 70th birthday and 40 years in business! He died suddenly last year, and it has been a very difficult time for so many, most of all his children.
 
His daughters, Michelle and Jessica, and their spouses, who have taken over the business, organized and presented this wonderful event. There was live music and a great hot tub sale.
 
James was a brilliant artist, in many mediums, but especially as a painter. He studied art at Michigan State University. When he died, so many JAMM members lost not only a great supporter, but more importantly, an irreplaceable, dear friend.
 
On the day of this tribute, his family decided to hold a Silent Art Auction of some of his works. During that sale, they raised $525, all designated as a donation to JAMM.
 
Since there were a few pieces not sold that day, the family will keep them at the store for a few weeks so that anyone interested can come in, look around and if desired, purchase a painting, with the proceeds also going to JAMM. Shown below here are the pieces still available.
 
The store is located at 2116 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI. Phone is 517-364-8827. You are most welcome to stop in during business hours or call first to make an appointment or ask about details on pieces shown below.
 

JAMM’s Board of Directors and other members who knew James are deeply touched and grateful for this donation. James’ presence is so sorely missed, but his family is keeping his dreams and work alive in wonderful ways.

We all miss him greatly, and we thank Michelle, Jessica and their families for this fantastic support of JAMM.

(Pieces still available as of 4/14/18)