Blowing on the embers: JAMM marks Jazz Day with online watch party

Lawrence Cosentino

The big lockdown of 2020 has temporarily tamped down the fire of live jazz in Lansing to embers of memory. To behold the flame once more, and offer hope for its return, the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan is taking its annual International Jazz Day bash online.

Friday, May 1, from 7 to 10 p.m., JAMM will stream an all-star jazz concert from Nov. 19 of last year for the first time, with every recipient who has received the group’s lifetime award, from bassists Rodney Whitaker and Gene Rebeck to drummers Randy Gelispie and Jeff Shoup, organist Jim Alfredson, pianists Ron Newman and Jeff Kressler and vocalists Betty Joplin, Betty Baxter and Sunny Wilkinson.

The watch party will help JAMM continue to distribute relief grants to area musicians who are hurting during an unprecedented dry spell.

Most of all, JAMM President Lois Mummaw hopes the party will “remind people what it’s like to be at a live jazz event and give hope that musicians will be able to play for live crowds again.”

Lansing’s thriving jazz scene, from Jazz Tuesdays at Moriarty’s to eruptions of international greatness from MSU’s stellar jazz department, supplied onstage miracles with the regularity of a public utility, building a close-knit, loving community of fans.

“I took it all so much for granted,” Mummaw said. “Now the thought of going out and sitting in a crowded room, or standing in a crowd at an outdoor festival, seems like a hundred years ago.”

In the quarantine era, Lansing area fans are getting their live jazz fix by from on line solo gigs from top musicians like organist Alfredson and guitarist Elden Kelly, but solo gigs only capture a part of the spontaneous give and take of jazz.

The East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival has been canceled this year and the fate of Jazz Fest and Blues Fest is up in the air.

JAMM’s annual Jazz Day bash began in 2013, a year after 2011, UNESCO named April 30 International Jazz Day.

For the last few years, the party was hosted by Gregory’s Soul Food at 2510 N. Martin Luther King Blvd. in north Lansing.

Gregory’s was again slated to host a Jazz Day Party April 24, a happy hour dance party with music from the JAMM Scholarship band, but the quarantine shut it down. JAMM is paying the band anyway, along with Gregory’s $250 rental fee.

This year, Mummaw hoped to connect with Gregory’s by organizing a pickup event to go with Friday’s live streaming event, but the logistics didn’t work out. Suffice it to say that if anyone wants the whole catfish and wings Jazz Day experience, Gregory’s is still open every day for takeout from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The major artists featured in Friday’s streaming concert assembled to pay tribute to the host of WLNZ’s “The Vinyl Side of Midnight,” Mike Stratton. The evening was not only a musical showcase nonpareil, capped by a moving and soulful set by Betty Joplin, but also a celebration of jazz love the likes of which the organization had never seen before.

The stream also contains the dubious spectacle of this writer, making his only public speaking appearance of this millennium or any other.

The virtual tip jar will help JAMM continue to distribute $200 Musician Relief Grants to local musicians who have been sidelined by quarantine. The group has already distributed 19 grants and plans to distribute 12 more, thanks to recent donations.

“The jazz community in Michigan is so generous. It’s amazing,” Mummaw said. “I know $200 doesn’t seem like much, but musicians are hurting so much now and everything helps.”

The grants are named after Joy and Robert Brown, two stalwart fans who supported JAMM for years, well into their 90s, and could be seen at nearly every jazz event in the area for many years. Robert Brown died last October and Joy Brown died in March of this year.

“If JAMM wasn’t around, they’d be the ones writing the relief checks,” Mummaw said. “That’s how supportive they were. They were always interested in the younger musicians.”

JAMM is also putting out the word for local jazz musicians to submit their live streaming gigs to the organizations’s online calendar. Mummaw invited musicians to go the JAMM web site,, and submit their gigs to inform the group’s wider membership, to help tide jazz lovers over until the moon shines on the bandstand again.

JAMM Grant Program Helps Mid-Michigan Jazz Musicians Impacted By Coronavirus

Dear Mid-Michigan Jazz Lovers,

We hope this post finds you and your family well. In these times of social distancing and venue closings, a live public space gathering of jazz musicians and their jazz-loving fans is impossible. Because JAMM’s mission is “to preserve and promote the tradition of Live Jazz across Mid-Michigan”, the Board of Directors of the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan has decided to distribute $200 individual grants to Professional Mid-Michigan Jazz Musicians who are struggling financially because of cancelled gigs. These grants do not have to be repaid and any Professional Mid-Michigan Jazz Musician may apply.

To find out more about getting a grant, contact JAMM President at or by text at 517-242-1126 to access the confidential grant application process.

I spoke with Kevin Lavery from WKAR about the grant, you can listen to the interview here.

Peace, Love and Long Live Live Jazz,

Lois Mummaw, JAMM President


To donate in any amount, use the “Donate” button on the homepage – or – checks may be made out and sent to:

PO Box 1792
East Lansing, MI 48826

2019 JAMM Tribute Concert Honors Mike Stratton

JAMM honors Mike Stratton for his significant contribution to jazz in Mid-Michigan on Sunday November 10th; 2-5 pm at UrbanBeat Event Center
Advance ticket sales closed. Tickets available at the door.

Mike Stratton - 2019 JAMM Tribute Honoree

Mike Stratton has been the volunteer producer and host of one of the longest running jazz radio programs in Michigan, The Vinyl Side of Midnight (VSM), which is LIVE every Sunday night from 9 to midnight and repeated Friday evenings 7 to 9 p.m. VSM broadcasts from Lansing Community College (LCC) Radio, 89.7FM, WLNZ, or online at

Attend the JAMM Tribute Concert and hear many of the musicians Mike has interviewed over the years–Rodney Whitaker, Betty Joplin, Randy Gelispie, Jeff Shoup and more!
In conjunction with his role as a DJ, Mike has emceed numerous festivals over the years–East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, Lansing Old Town Jazz and Blues Festivals as well as the Detroit Jazz Festival. He’s had the honor to give several preview lectures at the Wharton Center for the Arts over the past dozen years.

Advance tickets available HERE
$5.00 Student tickets at the door only

JAMM Presents “Matters of the Heart” Jazz Brunch featuring Reggie and Mardra Thomas

JAMM is so fortunate to be able to bring Mardra and Reggie Thomas to perform at JAMM Headquarters on September 22, 2019. Their CD “MATTERS OF THE HEART” is a perfect blend of jazz, soul & pop and was recorded here in Lansing.

Matters of the Heart Jazz Brunch Tickets


“Mardra Thomas has the impeccable phrasing of Nancy Wilson, and also the sharp tang reminiscent of Eartha Kitt. Reggie Thomas’s piano stylings are so subtly supportive, but then blossom into beautifully melodic solo touches and motifs.
Grounded by Rodney Whitaker’s deep woody sound on acoustic bass, there are flourishes via Perry Hughes guitar or Diego Rivera’s sax. The drummer [Montez Coleman] is impeccable.”
-Mike Stratton WLNZ LCC Radio

The “Matters of the Heart” CD can be purchase these locations: , or get your copy on 9/22/19 at the “Matters of the Heart” Jazz Brunch.

JAMM Presents Tom McDermott and Evan Christopher

JAMM has the incredible opportunity to host two New Orleans legends on Monday August 12th. The concerts of duo Tom McDermott (piano) and Evan Christpher (clarinet) are like attending a master class in New Orleans music/musicians– they are both masters of jazz history and their instruments!

Tom McDermott & Evan Christopher Tickets

Two Sets–7:00 & 9:00
JAMM Headquarters
1267 Lakeside Drive East Lansing
$25 (JAMM Members $20)
Both sets $40 (JAMM Members $30)

Buy Tickets Here >>

Tom McDermott is one of New Orleans’ prominent pianists and composers. In his 35 years in Nola, he’s played a wide variety of traditional piano musics: rag, trad jazz, boogie, stride, Brazilian choro, and the New Orleans piano tradition from Louis Moreau Gottschalk thru Jelly Roll Morton and Henry Butler. This spring he received his 7th review in the New York Times, from Jon Pareles: Tom McDermott mastered fearsome Jelly Roll Morton compositions like the aptly-titled Finger Breaker. He is a local luminary who deserves to be better-known.” Listen here.

Evan Christopher combines virtuosity, immaculate taste, and enthusiasm with a commitment to exploring the full range of possibilities in the New Orleans clarinet tradition.His highly personal brand of “contemporary, early jazz” strives to extend the legacies of early Creole clarinet heroes such as Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard and Omer Simeon. Listen here.

JAMM Spring 2019 Fundraiser – Randy Napoleon and Melissa Morgan

JAMM PRESENTS our Spring Fundraiser Concert featuring Jazz Guitarist, Randy Napoleon and Jazz Singer, Melissa Morgan. Get your advance tickets HERE for either the 7:00 or 9:00 show on Saturday April 20th. Act now to make sure you get a seat for this once-in-a-blue-moon pairing of the “soulful and smart” jazz guitar professor and the “interesting, sassy, and sexy” rising star singer.

JAMM Spring 2019 Fundraiser Poster

JAMM’s Archives: Your Help Needed

We’re working on a project that will take a bit of time to complete, so stay tuned!

We are assembling all audio and when available, all video of past JAMM Tributes and other events. We have quite an archive thanks to the work of JAMM Volunteers!

So far, what we appear to be in need of, if you have them, are photographs from some of the Tributes. If you have any, please email a note to, to let us know. Don’t just send photos, please. If you have videos as well, write to let us know.

The main Tribute events we need materials for are:
Sandy Izenson and Patti Richards, especially photos. We have audio for both.

It’s great fun to listen to some of these, after all these years! Here’s a teaser for you, from The Second Annual JAMM Tribute to the late Patti Richards. Singing here, Betty Joplin, who was friends with Patti and shares a bit about that here as well.

Patti Richards Tribute

Freddy Cole JAMM Benefit a HUGE Success!

Freddy Cole at JAMM Fundraiser

Freddy Cole JAMM Benefit Concert was a huge success! JAMM added $725 to our coffers and made many new friends!

Lionel Frederick Cole was born the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole’s five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy’s senior) were all musicians taught by their mother.

Though Freddy was born in Chicago, he is now a 35-year native son and international celebrity of Atlanta. Freddy moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson.

He got a Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of Earl Bostic’s band that also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson. It was back in New York that Freddy successfully laid the groundwork for a career that continues to flourish to this day.

He developed a vast repertoire of songs in Manhattan bistros and concurrently began to supplement his live performances with television and radio commercial work. Freddy recorded several albums for European and English companies during the 1970s that helped him develop a loyal overseas following. Cole believes that becoming an international favorite made him “widen my scope a little bit.”

He developed a stand-up act, a better rapport with audiences, and learned to sing in other languages.

“It made me much more a performer.”

A resident of Atlanta since 1972, he currently leads a quartet on piano and vocals with guitarist Randy Napoleon, bassist Elias Bailey, and drummer Quentin Baxter, that regularly tours the US, Europe, the Far East, South America and South Africa.

Freddy has been a recording artist since 1952, when his first single, “The Joke’s on Me,” was released on an obscure Chicago-based label.While there are certain unmistakable similarities in timbre to his brother Nat, his voice is raspier, smokier, jazzier even. In truth, his phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than that of his brother, and his timing swings even more. His vocals – suave, elegant, formidable, sometimes spoken and articulate – make him the most respected lyrical storyteller in jazz.

Cole’s career continues to ascend as he has moved into the front ranks of America’s homegrown art form with a style and musical sophistication all his own.

Freddy Cole, brother of Nat King Cole, to appear at JAMM Fundraiser!

Freddy Cole, shown here with well-known jazz guitarist and educator, Randy Napoleon.


International recording artist Freddy Cole will pay a special visit to East Lansing soon! He sings as well as plays the piano, upright bass and guitar. His successful career has spanned five decades and is still flourishing today.

We hope to hear a song or two from his latest CD, honoring his late brother, the wonderful Nat King Cole. The title is “He Was the King.”

MSU Professor and jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon helped make all this happen. He tours regularly with Mr. Cole and will be playing, as well. at this show.










This special event is on Wednesday, August 22nd 7-8:30 pm. Tickets for the first show sold out so quickly that a second show has been added, starting at 9 pm. Use the same link below if interested in attending that show. Student tickets are being offered for this second show only at a cost of $10 each.

1267 Lakeside Drive, East Lansing

Tickets: $35
Student Tickets, 9pm show only: $10

Purchase tickets here.

Proceeds from this special show will benefit the Sandy Izenson JAMM Scholarship Fund, given each year to a high school student to pursue their jazz studies after graduation.

Member and Donor Responses Tremendous!

Voting ends at midnight July 30. Input and replies from members and donors has been truly wonderful and exciting. As of the 29th, we literally have no idea who the choice will be.

How cool is that? It’s an indication of the vast range of knowledge among our members, and a great appreciation for the jazz community all around them.

The winner will be announced live at the JAMM Scholarship Group’s
Lansing Jazz Festival performance on Saturday, Aug. 4th at 4:30.
See full schedule and details at link above.
One last time, these are the finalists:

Gary Allen-nominated for his contributions to jazz, his mastery of guitar and for the lives he’s influenced. Through the love of his art, and his affable, inclusive personality, Gary is generous with his music and his encouragement. He is a seasoned master jazz musician and a good friend to many. A Founding Member of JAMM, he has been a Stockbridge, MI resident for the past several years, Gary has played all over the country and in Europe in bands big and small, and has rubbed shoulders or played with such jazz masters as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Paul Gonsalves, Ira Sullivan, David Sanborn and more. For a series he created at the Stockbridge Public Library, where residents appreciate him very much, Gary has discussed episodes of his own life in music as well as selected aspects, eras and artists of jazz and blues. A portion of every session has been devoted to Gary playing a few tunes for an appreciative audience on his 1952 Gibson electric guitar.

Jeff Shoup-nominated for founding the series, “Jazz Tuesdays at Moriarty’s Pub” and his weekly stewardship of stellar jazz musicians featured each week. Besides being an MSU Jazz Studies graduate and a great jazz drummer, Jeff has spent countless hours supporting JAMM by working with the Board to host the JAMM Member Mixer on the Second Tuesday in January, organizing the 2013 JAMM Tribute Honoree Concert for his mentor and teacher Randy Gelispie, and, as artistic director of Lansing JazzFest, making sure that the JAMM Scholarship Band and the current JAMM Tribute Honoree get a gig each year.

Mike Stratton-nominated for his extraordinary support of the jazz community in Mid-Michigan and beyond. A Founding Member of JAMM, Mike has given of his time emceeing at jazz festivals for many years. He has been educating audiences on radio, a voluntary role, on LCC Radio for 21-plus years on a weekly basis on LCC Radio, with his Vinyl Side of Midnight program. Live on Sunday nights, the show has a vast listenership in mid-Michigan and beyond. Thanks to the Internet and the rebroadcast of his show on, Mike gives exposure to countless mid-Michigan musicians through interviews on his show and playing of their music. He’s a lifelong student of jazz, always aware of who has a new CD or is doing something groundbreaking. The love and knowledge of jazz history in Mike’s heart and mind are almost enviable!

Thank you very much to all of you who submitted nominations for the 2019 JAMM Tribute Honoree. As a result of a blind, weighted vote, the current JAMM Board and Past JAMM Tribute Honorees have whittled that list of names sent in down to these three deserving individuals:

Gary Allen, Jeff Shoup, and Mike Stratton
Congratulations to all three of you!


If you are a 2018 JAMM Member or Donor, you will be receiving an email shortly to vote for your top choice to be 2019’s JAMM Tribute Honoree. The celebration will be held in November. Details forthcoming.

If you are not sure you are a paid and up-to-date member, email to find out. To become a member or to renew a past membership, visit Simple, easy process.