JAMM Tribute Concert honoring Jeff Shoup
Details to be announced.
Details to be announced.
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!
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 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
“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
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!