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!

An Update from JAMM’s President

You may be wondering why JAMM is honoring Betty Baxter as the 2016 JAMM Tribute Honoree on November 8th of 2015. (read more) Beginning in 2010, the first six JAMM Tributes were held either in January or February.  All of these Tribute Concerts were very successful but there were always concerns about the weather and, in recent years, concerns about overlapping with other jazz events.

Last year, our JAMM Tribute to Betty Joplin overlapped with an LCC concert featuring Thornetta Davis and also, later that evening, a Wharton Center performance from a touring “Hot Club” jazz group. JAMM made the decision last spring to “shake up” our event schedule to make it possible for more people to attend our annual JAMM Tribute Concert AND allow JAMM to promote our Honoree the entire year!  To this end, JAMM flip-flopped our Annual Mixer/Membership Drive usually held in November with our Annual Tribute Concert. This will also give us a chance to draw our Annual Sandy Izenson Scholarship Recipient earlier as well.

JAMM will be accepting nominations at this year’s Tribute for a current high school freshman, sophomore, or junior who is active in playing or singing jazz.  The nominee’s names will be put in a hat and the winner will be drawn at the Annual JAMM Mixer/Membership Drive featuring Betty Baxter now being held on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at Moriarty’s Pub in Lansing. This will give the JAMM Scholarship Group more time to practice before their gigs at JAMM’s International Jazz Day Party on April 30th (also featuring Betty Baxter), East Lansing’s Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in June and Lansing JazzFest in August.

So, get your tickets ASAP for the 7th Annual JAMM Tribute Concert to Betty Baxter–our 2016 Honoree!