This weekend I cleaned out the dim passageways behind this blog. Many unfinished posts were strewn about and , no longer pertinent, went to the trash. But like cleaning out the basement or garage I came upon some good stuff worth salvaging.
In this case it is a link to an older but still timely newspaper article in The New York Times about the rising jazz scene in Seattle. The article is important as counterpoint to recent criticism of institutionalized jazz education, and because it underscores the major role of high school and college jazz programs in creating and sustaining a lively jazz scene.
What’s happening in Seattle bodes well for the future of Madison’s own rising jazz scene where high school and college youth are the focus of a variety of Madison jazz programs.
- Plans are in the works for the Madison Metropolitan School District Fine Arts Office to host a Professional Development Day for K-12 teachers, delivered in partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The goal of this program is to increase the presence of jazz in general music classes and improve the quality of instruction in these classes and in school band programs.
- Madison Jazz Jam, a forum where youth can become involved in jazz, is surging in popularity and packing the Fountain, a new jazz venue on State Street.
- Madison Music Collective is on a roll with its concert series and most of these have an educational component or outreach to youth.
- The new UW Jazz Studies Professor, Johannes Wallmann, appears to have all the skills and energy to build a thriving jazz program at the university, something he did at Cal State East Bay in four years time.
Other ingredients are necessary for a thriving jazz scene, but the Seattle experience shows the importance of a strong base at the high school and college level (here’s that link again – it’s a very well-done NY Times piece). The initiatives outlined above will help build that base and ensure a strong, sustainable future for jazz in Madison.