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 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.

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.


Minutes from JAMM Member Meeting, February 28, 2018

This annual meeting is open to any currently paid JAMM member and was announced in the weekly newsletter and on Facebook for one month prior to the meeting. The agenda, listed below, was also emailed to members as part of the invitation to attend:

Election of officers

Budget review

Treasurer’s Report

Presentation of $5000 Gift (tax/CD)–$4000 General Fund/$1000 Website Update

Presentation on Website Update

2018 event planning:

International Jazz Day Happy Hour Dance Party

JAMM Volunteers @ SSJF and LJF

2019 JAMM Tribute Honoree

2018 JAMM Scholarship Recipient

Old Business

New Business

Election of officers:
Lois Mummaw, president, opened the meeting at 6:30 PM. The first order of business was to find a secretary to take notes and compile them to send to members and post online. Candice Wilmore volunteered, so she and is now officially secretary and in this position on the JAMM board, until the next elections.

At large board member, D.J.Carleton will remain as At Large Board Member during in that position for 2018. In addition, Al Cafagna and Carolyn Ojala were elected to serve as At Large Board Members for 2018 in that capacity as well. Paulette Hatchett will remain Vice President. Lois will remain President, with Candice Wilmore assisting as “co-president,” since Lois top priority, for now, is taking care of herself and handling health issues. Carolyn Ojala volunteered to be added to bank account, and to assist Gregg Hill (who will remain as Treasurer) if and when needed.

JAMM thanked outgoing Board Member, Dave Cheyne for his many years of service to JAMM. We will miss seeing him at Jazz and JAMM events in the Lansing area. We wish him luck and hope he will visit often. He’ll be living in the Grand Rapids area, so he won’t be lacking in jazz events!

Budget review and Treasurer’s Report:
Gregg Hill, treasurer, reported that JAMM’s current bank balance is $4,000 and that there is another $1500 in our Paypal account. The main reason we are in such a good position has to do with something many of you may be facing soon, as you reach a certain age and have the options Gregg explained to us, posted, in text, here. Please consider JAMM, if you do find yourself in a position to donate to a non-profit rather than pay have some of your savings in taxes:

Note from Gregg Hill:
“At age 70 and a half, there is a mandatory IRA withdrawal.You are allowed to deposit your withdrawal into a 501c3 (JAMM is a 501c3) with no Federal tax consequences. I have copies of the table available. I have taken advantage of this provision to fund $5,000 to JAMM. We have had a longstanding need to organize our archives, so I have earmarked $1,000 of that amount for that purpose. We have a wealth of material that needs to be organized and the results of this project should be fulfilling for anyone who has participated in JAMM over the years.”

All in attendance offered thanks, and a round of applause for this gesture from Gregg. It is certainly needed and will be used wisely!

Gregg went on to report that JAMM’s expenses for the Tribute in November 2017 were $1500. Since we charge a $25 General Admission, this is a break even on the balance sheet. The Annual Tribute is JAMM’s signature event and is not considered a Fundraiser.

JAMM’s highest expense every year is the Annual Tribute Concert. In 2017, the gross expenses from the Jeff Kressler Tribute exceeded ticket sales by $1430.00.

The JAMM mixer in January, 2018, at Moriarty’s was a success, and generated income from renewing members, new members and a small amount from the purchase of merchandise (like t-shirts and mugs). Total raised was $900.

There was a discussion about donating JAMM funds in memory of Mike Eyia, Jr., the son of Mike Eyia, a founding member of JAMM and dear friend. Mike Jr. passed away in Februrary. No details were finalized at that time.

Presentation on Website Update:
Candice handed out a short list of plans to update the JAMM website,

A) Create “Galleries” for still photos from past events

B) Videos: Place in more easily accessible and visible places on our site.

C) Freshen headlines and current posts on website itself, more often.

D) Create more visible and attracting ways to generate ongoing donations and new memberships

2018 Event Planning:
International Jazz Day Happy Hour Dance Party: Updates are forthcoming, as no definite plans were made other than unanimous vote to have a “Dance Party” on April 27. Jazz Day is officially April 30. We are currently looking for a venue for this party, which would likely start at 5pm and end at 8pm. The JAMM Scholarship Band would be the core performers. Charlie Wilson, of band 496 West, was invited to play with this band, and also invited to bring a favorite vocalist he’s worked with. Lois extended this invitation via Laverne, Charlie’s wife. As of these minutes, no confirmation, other than members of Scholarship Band and Doug Fritch, who leads and organizes them.

JAMM Volunteers at Summer Solstice Jazz Festival in East Lansing and Lansing Jazzfest:
Lois proposed that instead of JAMM having an information table or a JAMM Van, as we did at SSJF last year, that we, instead, offer our JAMM volunteers as the bucket brigade at each festival. (Lois and Carolyn alone collected $2,000 at LJF last year!)

The hope is that organizers of each festival will accept this offer. If that happens, JAMM will purchase printed aprons for each “Bucket Brigade” volunteer (who do not have to be JAMM members, btw). The aprons will have text indicating that JAMM loves and supports the festival. There will be a pocket on apron for volunteer to carry JAMM business cards and hand out to the audience.

Also regarding SSJF and LJF, JAMM voted to increase our contribution to each festival by $250. This year, JAMM will be contributing $750 to SSJF and $750 to LJF

2019 JAMM Tribute Honoree:
This discussion will be moved to another time, starting with Board Members

2018 JAMM Scholarship Recipient:
Two recipients have been identified and announcements about this will be made soon. It was voted unanimously to offer two scholarships this year, @$500 each, so total of $1,000 from JAMM budget. The reasoning for this decision is that Doug Fritch, JAMM volunteer leader of this band, told us the band needs a drummer. The other recipient is a horn player, nominated as is traditional, by 2018 JAMM Tribute Honoree, Jeff Kressler. JAMM will go back to offering just one Scholarship in 2019.

Old Business:

New Business:
It was suggested that JAMM become more active in sending letters or emails to new members, donors and other reasons to thank an individual or organization. Since we do not have an official “correspondence” volunteer, details on how this will be done are an ongoing discussion and as always, JAMM members will be informed as this project unfolds. If you are interested in volunteering for this role, and have some experience, please email