Jazz in Schools was initiated by the Los Angeles Jazz Society in 1988 and provides free jazz education performances by professional musicians in elementary schools during the month of February, Black History Month. The purpose of the project is to introduce young students to jazz as a uniquely American art form and to recognize the important contribution made to American culture by African Americans. The project also addresses the need for the arts in Los Angles public schools. This is especially true in music, and exposure to jazz is almost non-existent. In order to include the entire City of Los Angeles, schools are selected to represent all fifteen City Council districts equally with a focus on schools most in need. The number of school children benefiting from these concerts each year is approximately 23,000.
The program is designed especially for the enjoyment and education of young people. During concerts, students are introduced to the instruments and their capabilities; they see a demonstration of how the musicians relate to each other in the improvisational style of jazz; they are exposed to different forms of jazz and hear how they developed historically; they learn how jazz is related to current forms of pop music and they interact with musicians in clapping, marching and dancing. Students learn about Latin jazz and its relationship with American jazz as introduced by a Spanish-speaking musician and they learn that jazz provides equal opportunity for women from a female member of the group.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Unlike most school music assemblies which are “concert only”, Jazz in Schools seeks to make the concert a learning and fun experience by preparing the students for the concert and by including their active participation. Prior to concerts, a Concert Preparation Package is sent to each school. The package was prepared by the founder of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California and consists of a Teaching Outline on jazz history and a CD representing artists and music presented in the Outline. Students are encouraged to listen to jazz and to consider studying musical instrument.
Goals and objectives were initially established by a committee of music educators, jazz musicians and Jazz Society board members. At the end of each concert, children should:
JAZZ GROUP LEADERS
Jazz in Schools employs three jazz combos of five musicians. All of the musicians are among the finest and most experienced jazz musician/educators in Los Angeles.
Ernie Fields, Jr.: Jazz Hall of Fame artist whose prolific career as a jazz saxophone musician has earned respect as a performer, arranger, conductor and contractor. He has been associated with many great jazz artists such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lionel Richie, Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick. His motion picture credits include “Lady in Red”, “Brewster’s Millions” and “Dirty Dancing.” Some of his associations in television have been with “Rhoda” “Bob Newhart” and “Mary Tyler Moore.” Fields was Contract/Musician for “Black Achievement Awards”, “Tribute to Martin Luther King”, “NBC: NAACP Image Awards” and is currently the Music Contractor for “American Idol.”
Delbert Taylor: Known as “Maestro Taylor”, Delbert Taylor has had a diverse and storied performance and recording career. He has recorded with such notables as Natalie Cole, Gil Scott-Heron and Fred Wesley. He has also produced and performed for such major record labels at Capitol, A&M and CBS Sony.
Dedicated to nurturing the next generation of musicians, Maestro Taylor has taught both choral and instrumental music to children and adults of all ages. Working closely with the Inglewood Unified School District, he arranged, orchestrated music directed and conducted the 100- member, “Just Loving Music Youth Orchestra”.
Charles Owens: Known as a consummate musician’s musician, Charles Owens has worked with Gerald Wilson, Miles Davis Duke Ellington and Buddy rich among others. He is a master woodwind musician who maintains professional proficiency on tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon and English horn. His skilled musicianship and rare ability to produce original sounds on all of these instruments places him in demand as a jazz artist of international repute. Owens is well-known as a teacher who is busy as a faculty member of UC Irvine. He says his greatest passion is teaching young people.
Selection of schools begins shortly after the end of February and the completion of that year’s concerts. Schools are selected based on having received no prior or recent concert. Schools requesting concerts are placed on file and considered based on the above criteria. Requests can be made by contacting the Jazz Society office at 818.994- JAZZ or email@example.com
FUNDING JAZZ IN SCHOOLS
Funding for Jazz in Schools is received through grants from foundations, corporations, and donations made to the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s David L. Abell Jazz Education Fund by benefactors and members.
The primary donors are the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Music Performance Fund.
Donations to the David L. Abell Jazz Education Fund are welcome and can be made by contacting 818.994-JAZZ or firstname.lastname@example.org