This article is copyright 2006 by Antonio J. García and originally was published in the International Association for Jazz Education Jazz Education Journal, Vol. 39, No. 3, December 2006. It is used by permission of the author and, as needed, the publication. Some text variations may occur between the print version and that below. All international rights remain reserved; it is not for further reproduction without written consent.
version of the article is expanded beyond that which appears in the December
IAJE had published this extended online version in recognition of
the public's need for in-depth information on this topic
the first and only time that IAJE published an expanded web version of a print article from its Journal.)
Jazz Education in New Orleans, Post-Katrina
by Antonio J. García
The then-office of Basin Street Records on Canal Street in New Orleans, about two weeks after Katrina and the subsequent flooding.
Photo credit: Will Samuels
The gutted interior of Basin Street Records on Canal Street in New Orleans. Mark Samuels had to let the property go and has since moved operations to his home's also-flooded but now gutted basement.
Photo credit: Will Samuels
This is a different sort of article for me to write, as New Orleans is my native home, where I lived for 25 years. As most of us, I have seen on television the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. As some of us, I have visited New Orleans since that disaster and seen family and friends. Being there amid the utter destruction and then—a few minutes’ drive away—also walking through the active and beautiful parts of a city that still lives is an experience television of course cannot convey.
The status of jazz education in New Orleans is its own story—and in my view, a very interesting one. It is entwined with the wider music-ed system (both public and parochial), affected by the informal mentorship of street musicians, focused by the sound of school marching bands, and utterly enmeshed in the future opportunities and challenges of the city itself.
My goal here is to share with you the many facets that affect jazz education in New Orleans and therefore the future of jazz in New Orleans—and therefore the future of the roots of jazz anywhere. For there are few genres of jazz unaffected by the language formed by New Orleans jazz musicians, not just of last century but also of this one.
I will share residents’ own words with you in an apolitical—yet politically engaging—manner. This tale will not be all gloom and doom: there will be proven avenues of assistance and growth and recommendations for the future. As I write this, I am listening to the live performance of the Treme (pronounced “trah-MAY”) Brass Band at the National Folk Festival in my adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia. The band, a 2006 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Recipient, had members scattered throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana who are still facing the reconstruction of their personal and professional lives. But their sound remains glorious and uplifting, as does the spirit of New Orleans itself.
I hope that through this article I have found a way to provide you, as a member of the global jazz community, added reason to care and to act in any positive direction you can.
Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Monday, August 29, 2005, as a Category 4 hurricane.... The levee breaches flooded up to 80% of the city, with water in some places as high as 25 feet. The storm and flooding took over 1,500 lives and displaced an estimated 700,000 residents.... Nearly 228,000 homes and apartments in New Orleans were flooded, including 39% of all owner-occupied units and 56% of all rental units. Approximately 204,700 housing units in Louisiana either were destroyed or sustained major damage. As of April 2006, 360,000 Louisiana residents remained displaced outside the state. Some 61,900 people were living in FEMA trailers and mobile homes.
Formal K-12 Public Education in New Orleans
When I first started teaching in 1975, there were many band directors who played nightly engagements. They were outstanding educators in many regards because they were outstanding musicians who carried forth their professionalism from the bandstand into their teaching.But music education in Orleans Parish schools has been lacking tremendously the last ten years. Therefore, [public-school formal] jazz education was almost non-existent. Parents hardly ever buy their child an instrument any more and very rarely invest in private lessons; and today’s band directors are too caught up in marching band, neglecting concert band and jazz band.
—Joseph Torregano, Director of Bands, East St. John High School in Reserve, Louisiana.
Truth be told, in the past ten years, the corrupt and dysfunctional public school system had begun to shirk one of its most critical roles—serving as one of our most important cultural incubators (the other major source being our church choirs). The School Board let our Master band directors go, many of whom were part of music-family dynasties, where our traditions had been handed down from father-to-son through generations. Somewhere in the ’80s or ’90s the slide started. Public school music programs were cut back. Music instructors of undetermined qualifications and little accountability were assigned to multiple schools with no fixed band rooms.
—David Freedman, General Manager, community radio station WWOZ-FM.
The big reality is that there’s not too much of a difference between what’s going on with jazz education in New Orleans versus what’s going on with overall education in New Orleans. There’s a major restructuring of the schools; we’re starting over fresh. Nobody would say that the educational system was great before. But the cultural aspect had come from people’s houses and high school band rooms: you could be a kid in New Orleans and be in six different bands. That’s not here anymore. We’re going to feel the effects of this change five or six years from now.
—Irvin Mayfield, Founder and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Inc.
Before the hurricane the Orleans Parish School Board administered 120 schools. This year...five.
—Guy Wood, Music Educator, District VI (New Orleans).
Thousands of schoolchildren across the Gulf Coast were displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The storms hit just before the start of the 2005-2006 school year.... In the areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana affected by Katrina, there were 419 rural schools with nearly 220,000 students, most eligible for federally subsidized meals and about one-third of them African-American....In New Orleans, an issue of concern for many parents of public school children is the post-storm increase in controversial charter schools. Of the 57 schools slated to open in Louisiana’s State Recovery School District this fall, only five are traditional public schools overseen by an accountable and elected school board. The other 53 are charter schools, which receive both federal and state dollars but operate with more autonomy and, some say, little accountability to the local communities they serve.Some education officials are enthusiastic about the trend. Orleans Parish school board president Phyllis Landrieu has called the charter phenomenon “a cause for celebration” that gives students and parents a wide choice of educational options.The government is also embracing charters. Since the storms, Louisiana charter schools have received at least $44 million dollars in federal assistance. Furthermore, state legislation passed last year allowing Louisiana to take control of local school districts also eases restrictions on charter schools, a move that could further damage an already struggling public education system.
With this takeover, the public schools in New Orleans are currently operated under one of four umbrellas: the Louisiana Department of Education (through its Recovery School District); the Orleans Parish School System; the Algiers Charter School Association; and additional, independent schools chartered by either the Orleans Parish School System or the state-run Recovery School District. This did not occur without great controversy:
Less than a month after Katrina devastated New Orleans, the city’s already struggling public education system was dealt a devastating blow by the Louisiana state legislature. In October , state lawmakers voted to take over New Orleans public schools, a process that allowed the Orleans Parish School Board to fire 7,500 school employees from their jobs, including nearly 4,000 teachers. No advance notice was given before the decision was made public; so most of these employees only learned about their terminations through the media....To add insult to injury, under the state-administered Katrina recovery school district, control over many New Orleans public schools was granted to charter organizations. In addition, federal Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that $24 million dollars of federal funds was granted to Louisiana by the Department of Education for the express purpose of supporting charter schools, while traditional public schools received nothing. Parents and teachers alike express grave concerns about the future of public education and what the current push for charter schools means for standards, fairness, and accountability in education.
Some see the move as being a very positive one:
“We see an opportunity to do something incredible” [said] Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.... And she just may be right. Education could be one of the bright spots in New Orleans’ recovery effort, which may even establish a new model for school districts nationally.... But in the first three years or so after the hurricane, K-12 education in New Orleans will be a trailing phenomenon, dependent on how fast the economy and housing are rebuilt.By the end of December , there were approximately 2,000 students in six public schools in Orleans.... By July 31, the last day of the 2006 spring semester, ...the Orleans school district included five schools being operated by the District office and 12 charters, and was accommodating over 6,000 students. Combined with the Algiers Charter Schools and the State Recovery District, there were nearly 12,000 children in 25 public schools in New Orleans.
The rising student numbers did not restrain interest in protesting the manner in which educators and staff had been fired; they filed a lawsuit against the state in September 2006:
Renee F. Smith, an attorney for the school board, said the teachers and staff had to be fired. Otherwise, she said, it would have amounted to the district paying them for work they did not do.... Darryl Kilbert, acting superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools, testified Friday that the Orleans Parish district only employs about one-tenth of the workers it had before Katrina. And, he said, it cannot afford to hire more.
Meanwhile, without even its previous level of infrastructure and most especially without many of its educators, formal jazz education in the K-12 public system has all but disappeared:
Pre-Katrina there were jazz education programs in six public schools.... Post-Katrina, jazz education is non-existent.... The lack of success is truly due to the sad state of education in New Orleans. The educational landscape in New Orleans is probably more difficult to navigate then the surface of the moon. Currently there are public schools, state-run schools, state-charter schools, independent-charter schools, parochial schools, and private schools—all working uncooperatively.For a complete year after Katrina, there was almost no music education in New Orleans area schools. I am afraid that we are seeing the possible loss to an entire generation of the oral traditions of jazz that have been passed down for years, allowing New Orleans music to exist. We could see a generation with no concept of tradition, history, art, or culture. I had accepted the position of Music Coordinator for New Orleans Public Schools with the intent to reorganize and reinstitute music education as an inclusive, interdisciplinary course.
—Brice Miller, the recent Coordinator of Music Programs for New Orleans Public Schools and the Artistic Director/CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Education Foundation.
The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts has long been a beacon for area arts education at the pre-college level. Well-known for such
Wynton Marsalis mixes with NOCCA students at an open rehearsal of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in New Orleans.
Photo credit: Elizabeth McMillan
former students’ names such as Marsalis, Connick, Blanchard, and Harrison, its facility benefited from the wisdom of the city’s founder, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, who in 1718 had the foresight to build the old city of New Orleans on some of the area’s highest ground.
“Fortunately NOCCA is very healthy at the moment,” assures Michael Pellera, NOCCA’s Jazz Department Chair. “We are back to our pre-Katrina numbers. Of course we did not have a fall semester in 2005, and we operated at a satellite site in the spring at about half of our pre-Katrina numbers. Some students participated online and returned for an intensive, five-week summer program.” But, says NOCCA Chair Michael Rihner, there are notable downsides to the fiscal and musical foundations of this institution long known for its diversity in musical instruction:
NOCCA’s budget was slashed by the State for a while. Though it has come back to a good degree, we lost funding for our part-time faculty teaching private lessons. So now students have to come up with their own means to pay for outside lessons (though there are a few grants).Equally challenging is the pool of qualified teachers: there are not as many available. So we have a difficult time identifying and recommending instructors to students in some specific areas. Many musicians who used to live here have nowhere to live in town and so have not returned.Katrina has definitely affected our student demographics and thus our students’ musical background. For example, thirty to forty percent of NOCCA’s students used to be from the inner city of New Orleans, bringing a background of the city’s famed street-sound into our institution. That has greatly declined, and the student body has a more suburban feeling. Forty percent of our freshman class used to be African American: now it’s five to ten percent.That’s a significant change, and it affects the musical landscape for the students. We always had a mix of students from the “Treme Brass Band” tradition; now we have very few brass students and a high number of white, middle-class guitar students.
The New Orleans parochial school system, which educated 40 percent of New Orleans’ students, was also devastated. Although Catholic schools have reopened in some of the highest and driest neighborhoods and some damaged schools elsewhere are reopening, it is not clear whether or when all the flooded schools will open. But because the archdiocese includes all the parishes in New Orleans, not just Orleans Parish, many of the students in the hardest-hit schools were reassigned to other schools outside the central city.... Overall, 79 percent of Catholic school students have returned to class.
The Catholic administrative system was better suited to meet the challenge of the displaced students, as the pre-Katrina needs of Baton Rouge and New Orleans had already resided under one roof. And the Catholic music programs had often been better funded than their secular counterparts. “Students responded very well to being back in music, establishing some normalcy in their lives. The ones that came to Baton Rouge from New Orleans were absorbed at no charge,” explained Sister Mary Hilary, O.P. As the Director of Instrumental Music for the New Orleans and Baton Rouge Dioceses, she is responsible for the 35 schools in the two regions. “But our biggest challenge is replacing the students’ personal instruments lost to Katrina.”
Has the influx of students and families from New Orleans affected music education in Baton Rouge? “I do not see a difference,” states Duane LeBlanc, the Director of Bands at Catholic High School. “Baton Rouge has had a strong history of jazz education for many years. I do, however, see a difference in the community and have noticed an increase in opportunities to be exposed to jazz.”
That’s because of the additional New Orleans musicians evacuated there. One of those displaced musicians is jazz educator and avant-garde champion Kidd Jordan, father of musicians Kent, Marlon, Stephanie, and Rachel. He is no longer teaching at his longtime post in New Orleans at Southern University, now lives in Baton Rouge, and has had only one performing engagement in New Orleans and taught at only one jazz camp there since Katrina.
Universities in the New Orleans area have generally had the benefit of more substantial financial holdings—plus more storm-dedicated alumni gifts—than the typical middle- or high-school.
“Loyola University had a slightly smaller freshman class in jazz studies (and other music majors) but not as small as we had feared,” summarized John Mahoney, the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Loyola University. “Tulane is supporting Irvin Mayfield’s New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Xavier is coming back under the leadership of Dr. Tim Turner.”
“There has been an unbelievable amount of devastation. Much of the city is still in ruins, but jazz music and jazz education are alive and well. There are many great musicians still living here and a lot of great young students coming up,” suggested Edward Petersen, Associate Chair and the Coordinator of Jazz Studies for the Department of Music at the University of New Orleans. “Jazz education is in a healthier state now than it was before Katrina because more people recognize not only the cultural value of jazz but also the economic value. As more people realize that music is one of New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s most valuable exports, the state and private organizations (especially the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation) are providing a higher level of support.”
Informal Jazz Education
Brass and Street Bands
In my opinion, there aren’t any specific differences in the culture of learning the jazz tradition informally on the streets now versus pre-Katrina. Even before the catastrophe left in wake of Katrina, street musicians had been experiencing resistance from legislation being implemented by certain city council members, mainly because of complaints from residents who live in the apartments located near Jackson Square. I believe that now musicians, particularly ones who don’t play quieter instruments, such as the acoustic guitar, are forbidden to perform outdoors near the Square. What happened to the good old days? In spite of it all, fortunately there are still venues around town, specifically in areas where tourists and locals would venture, to listen to some good live music....
—Leroy Jones, trumpeter/composer, Leroy Jones Quintet, Harry Connick, Jr. Orchestra/Big Band.
The culture of learning the jazz tradition informally on the street now is completely non-existent! The City Council passed an ordinance post-Katrina with no community input barring live music on Royal Street (now open to traffic versus its pre-Katrina pedestrian-mall state) and other French Quarter streets. There is little or no live music in front of St. Louis Cathedral, and the city-sponsored live brass bands on Decatur Street near Aunt Sallie’s have not resumed.I learned to play jazz on Royal Street, in front of St. Louis Cathedral and playing second-lines. For the most part, these outlets have been silenced. Even the community second-lines have decreased to almost nothing due to the city raising permit fees to almost $3,700, much more than the grassroots Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs can afford. Many musicians have not returned to New Orleans for this reason as well as the increased cost of living in New Orleans.
Playing on the street is a sort of bleak scene. Most of the regular players aren’t living here any more. I used to be able to call a band and get an answer the same day as to their availability. Now I have to wait several days while they contact their members in different cities. When I booked artists for the 2006 Jazz Fest, it cost my budget four times its usual and took a lot more time to accomplish it.
—Gregory Davis, Educational Programs Director and Jazz Coordinator, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The true traditional music of New Orleans jazz is vastly becoming an “endangered species” in the African American community in which it was developed and nurtured.
I received small grants from the Idea Village and from Desire NOLA. To hell with the SBA (Small Business Association) and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). I welcome all the help I can get. I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
—Mark Samuels, President, Basin Street Records.
We have lost some of our paid staff; and, most ominously for a volunteer-operated community radio station, we have lost a substantial number of our volunteers. Prior to the flood, WWOZ had over 450 people who volunteered their services in one way or another; [now] WWOZ’s volunteer base is hovering around 100!
The availability isn’t close to what it used to be. You can’t learn the jazz tradition informally on the street when the street is full of debris and yours is the only family living on the block. Elder musicians, the educators, are having a particularly hard time relocating to New Orleans: the scarcity of health-care options and the physical demands of rebuilding have kept many of them in exile. Fewer churches are functioning post-Katrina. The flood devastated the family and neighborhood networks that had fostered the transmission of jazz culture between generations.
—Jordan Hirsch, Administrator, New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund.
The population with the least economic privilege—including many musicians—will be much slower to come back.
Until we get tourists back, there is very little work for musicians.
—John Shoup, Manager, Dukes of Dixieland.
“The Lion’s Den” took on a lot of water: eight feet. Rebuilding it is not a priority of ours at this time because we still don’t have our home in a livable state.
—Irma Thomas, vocalist, owner of the club “The Lion’s Den.”
The words “marching band” bring very different images to mind to a New Orleanian or Louisianan than to most others; and even in that region, contrasting genres abound.
The typical image prompted in most of the United States and beyond might well be of an ensemble that projects the military tradition: lines and rows as sharply carved as a bed-cover in the barracks, right-angle turns as crisp as a well-oiled machine, bodies as rigid as a regiment, musical tone-qualities modeled after a military or concert band, and drum cadences taken directly from John Philip Sousa. Such bands draw the admiration of many in and out of the music-education ranks, while others see them as a distraction from other musical pursuits the students could be learning.
This is simply not the marching band in the majority of New Orleans, where its look and sound is so greatly influenced by—and carries forward the tradition of—African music and dance. Its lines and rows flow in a coordinated but un-militaristic manner. Its right-angle turns convey a dance step, as does every move of the bandmembers’ bodies. Its tone qualities are carried down from the brass-band street tradition.
And perhaps most significantly, its drum cadences are most often based in 3-2 clave, taken directly from the Afro-Cuban traditions of Latin folk music and jazz. There probably isn’t a well-known melody—pop, jazz, classical, or folk—that hasn’t been performed and transformed in New Orleans as a funkier rendition over the legendary streetbeat of that city. And because of this, not only have the vast majority of school-kids in The Crescent City over the last century grown up playing music over that streetbeat, virtually every child and adult in the city has heard and danced to that sound every Mardi Gras season, live and via the radio, if not every week during football season’s band halftime shows, basketball pep band performances, and more. In my opinion and that of many historians, that streetbeat and its overlay of musical ideas are a primary reason why so many jazz musicians of all styles have come out of New Orleans—and why so many genres of music have roots in New Orleans history:
New Orleans has never lost its connection to West Africa. Before the Civil War, slaves in New Orleans were allowed to congregate on Sundays in Congo Square (located in what is now Armstrong Park). There they would drum and dance according to their African traditions. Another institution that historically provided cultural continuity was our school system—both public and parochial.For more than 100 years, our high school marching bands have long been recognized as some of the most outstanding in the country. How could they not be—infused as they were with the complex African rhythms filtering across the generations from Congo Square!...New Orleans’ cultural identity is its essence. It is the culture of our people that distinguishes us from any other American city. In pre-Katrina New Orleans, to be in a marching band was more prized than to be on the football team....One of the truthiest truisms for me is that Katrina is an accelerant for all the trends that were in place before August 2005. The public school system was already abandoning its unique role as a fundamental carrier of our cultural traditions.... [Now] each charter school is, in essence, its own school board, setting its own curricula and making its own business decisions regarding staffing and allocation of resources.The bottom line for all charter schools is whether their students pass standardized LEAP and SASE tests in sufficient numbers to justify the state renewing their charters to operate. In such an environment...extra-curricula activities may be seen as just that—“extra”—and easily abandoned, the better to concentrate all resources on “meat and potato” courses that assure higher test scores....How close are we coming to losing the mechanism by which future generations identify themselves and our city through our unique musical traditions? Without a future, our heritage may no longer exist as a living tradition—becoming instead just a postcard for tourists and a commodity for export....
A lot of people outside of New Orleans don’t understand how important even the school marching band is to jazz education. Sure, marching can be overdone in the balance of musical instruction. But I wouldn’t trade my time in the Jesuit High School Marching Band for anything: it was an introduction to the music and beats that are indigenous to the New Orleans sound. But now, post-Katrina, entire music programs (much less marching bands) have been wiped out across the city. There are no places for so many kids to experience firsthand how to create the streetbeat sound, and the children displaced to other cities may never experience it again.
To illustrate the wide-ranging influence and importance of how the New Orleans marching band tradition has educated so many students of all cultural backgrounds about the fundamentals of New Orleans musical style, I often show people a particular video-clip of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. A marching band from a New Orleans suburban, private, religious-based, all-boys high school makes its way down the street. Suddenly its two drum majors, one African American and one white, break out into choreographed dance steps. Seconds later, the entire, mostly white band also dances steps as it performs its music. Here is freedom from judgment about one’s motives for dancing, even in a suburban, private, religious-based, all-boys school marching band: you dance.
Such expression and risk-taking is fundamental to improvisation and to jazz. The New Orleans marching band style has for generations been at the root of passing that spirit of exploration to every resident of the region, no matter the individual’s cultural background.
Mold covers the instruments that had been left behind on high counters by trumpeter Leroy Jones.
Photo credit: Katja Toivola
Jones' music room.
Photo credit: Katja Toivola
The affordability of housing (owned or rented) in a given city is a crucial ingredient for its police, nurses, firefighters, teachers, artists, and certainly for its jazz musicians. It is here where the fate of Katrina’s path tore most deeply into New Orleans’ musical heart:
Like most cities across the country, New Orleans already had an affordable housing shortage before Katrina...and a low homeownership rate: only 47%, compared to 67% nationally.... African American and low-income families in New Orleans had far lower rates of homeownership than whites and higher-income families....[This] has since erupted into a major crisis...disproportionately borne by the region’s poorest residents: a full 20% of the 82,000 rental units that Katrina damaged or destroyed in Louisiana were affordable to extremely low-income households. The large loss of habitable rental space has caused sharp rent increases in many damaged areas....The Brookings Institute [showed that] fair market rents in New Orleans are now at their highest levels, surpassing pre-Katrina rent prices: an efficiency apartment that rented for $463 in 2004 now rents for $725; a one-bedroom that was $531 is now $803.Despite this severe shortage of affordable housing, of the entire $11.5 billion Community Development Bloc Grant allocation for Louisiana, just $920 million is targeted towards rental housing for extremely low- and very-low-income people.
Recent and Future Solutions
The challenges of formal and informal education and of the very existence of affordable housing have surfaced in New Orleans on a scale if not unprecedented in the U.S., then certainly unprecedented for its sudden and sharp increase, as this level of natural disaster is unique in America. To humanity’s credit, people have stepped forward at every level to assist, from the single individual to a national effort.
A Random Sampling
Immediately following Katrina, the Higher Ground Foundation provided assistance to grassroots organizations such as my New Orleans Jazz Education Foundation. This allowed me to provide performance and economic support for local musicians through educational programs. I could send professional musicians to perform not only in local classrooms but also in classrooms in other states where evacuees were.The Jazz Foundation of America has implemented a Jazz/Blues in the Schools program in several states, all which employ musicians affected by Katrina and present cultural-enrichment performances in schools throughout the communities free of charge. And since October 2005 I have traveled as an independent ambassador of New Orleans music.
The most positive assistance I’ve received post-Katrina has been from the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.
—Leroy Jones, trumpeter/composer, Leroy Jones Quintet, Harry Connick, Jr. Orchestra/Big Band.
Ed Kvet, our Dean of Music and Fine Arts, managed to pay our invaluable adjunct faculty during the Katrina semester, despite our suspended operations. One father of a former Summer Camp student sent us a check for $5,000 to help our program survive! Bloomington North High (IN) sent us the profits from a Jazz Band Concert they hosted. SUNY Potsdam’s student-run Madstop Records sent us a share of the profits from a fundraiser they held.
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, a non-profit, is dedicated to providing jazz education to students in this city; and the Tipitina’s Foundation has done a phenomenal job at putting instruments into the hands of just about all of the music programs at the high-school level. The Satchmo Summer Jazz Camp has been around for several years and is also an important entity.
Two new efforts that have cropped up since the storm are Rhythmic Roots and Save our Brass. Rhythmic Roots is a community music project presented by our organization in cooperation with WWOZ radio that invites the community to an interactive musical experience focused on New Orleans musical traditions. Save our Brass has partnered some elder statesmen of the brass band tradition with younger players in an effort to perpetuate the style and rhythms of the traditional songs.
—D. Santiago, Backbeat Foundation.
The Contemporary Arts Center has made their performing artists available to NOCCA free of charge and will do so in the future. The caliber of the artists has truly been world-class, and they have been inspirational to our students. These artists include McCoy Tyner, Chico Hamilton, and Edward Simon. Bonnie Raitt also played at the school and spoke at length to the students when she was in town for a House of Blues performance and sent CDs for all 80 of the music students.
We at WWOZ have been blessed through this incredible test, blessed with support of our radio colleagues: 36 public radio stations sent us money—unsolicited! The Corporation for Public Broadcasters sent us money. Louisiana Public Radio, as well. The Development Exchange provided support. Vendors and consultants...waived fees and continue to work with us on a pro-bono basis. And of course, our listeners, not just locally but around the country and the world, came through for us in our Spring Membership Drive, almost doubling our most successful previous membership campaign.
AAt the JFA's "Great Night in Harlem" at the Apollo Theatre: Jarrett Lillien (President of E*TRADE Financial), Mrs. Joyce Dinkins (wife of former NYC mayor David Dinkins), Danny Glover (actor and JFA board member), Agnes Varis, and Dick Parsons (generous donors).
Photo credit: Jazz Foundation of America
For 17 years the Jazz Foundation of America has been an organization at the forefront of providing emergency assistance and long-term support to veteran jazz and blues musicians across the country. “Our small staff normally handles 500 cases a year,” says Wendy Oxenhorn, the organization’s tireless Executive Director and advocate. “Since Katrina, we’ve assisted 1,100 New Orleans emergency cases—plus 600 non-Katrina elderly musicians in crisis that we would typically serve. We have received active assistance from such celebrities as Danny Glover, Bill Cosby, Elvis Costello, Quincy Jones, Bonnie Raitt, and Chevy Chase.” The JFA has focused on three specific needs: housing, employment, and instruments.
“Days after the flood, because of the ongoing efforts and contributions of Jarrett Lilien, President of E*Trade Financial, the JFA was able to establish New Orleans’ first post-Katrina Emergency Housing Fund for musicians: housing, relocating, and saving hundreds of New Orleans musicians and their families from homelessness and mortgage foreclosure in nearly 20 states. To date, the Jazz Foundation has not lost one musician to foreclosure, eviction, or homelessness. All who came for help were saved.
“Through the beautiful heart of “Saint Agnes” Varis of Agvar Chemicals, Inc., the Jazz Foundation created the first performance-employment program, which has grown into an $800,000 solution. This Agnes Varis Jazz Foundation in the Schools Program was also made possible with the help of Richard Parsons and the good people at Time Warner, Inc., actor/producer Fisher Stevens, and the rock band Pearl Jam. To date, this program has already given 3,100 individual employment opportunities. It has put several hundred displaced musicians back to work, with a minimum of $200 per gig, bringing free performances to thousands of children in schools and the elderly in nursing homes in over eight states where the musicians have been forced to settle.
Displaced kids dance to music provided by displaced artists at JFA Agnes Varis/Jazz Foundation in the Schools program.
Photo credit: Jazz Foundation of America
“The program is run and coordinated by the New Orleans musicians themselves. Alvin Batiste, Brice Miller, Davell Crawford, Jonathan Bloom, Steven Foster, and Bill Summers—all established educators in New Orleans for many years—are all coordinators of the program in the various states they have landed. Recording sessions are being planned to give musicians a CD they can sell to help increase income at club and festival gigs.
“Through the huge hearts at Music & Arts Center, Yamaha, and New York’s Beethoven Pianos, the Jazz Foundation secured over $250,000 worth of new, top-shelf instruments for New Orleans’ most beloved senior and junior jazz and blues artists, including the Treme Brass Band, Rebirth Brass Band, The Hot 8, Davell Crawford, Shannon Powell, Dr. Michael White, Fats Domino, Henry Butler, Cyril Neville, Derwin Perkins, and 95 year-old Lionel Ferbos.
JFA Executive Director Wendy Oxenhorn (center) celebrates delivering new instruments to displaced musicians, including Red Morgan (sax, sitting), Terrell Battiste (trumpet, on porch), and James Andrews (trumpet, far right).
Photo credit: Dr. Max Prince au Schaumburg-Lippe of Salzburg
“The Jazz Foundation acknowledges special thanks and love to all we worked with in this effort. What we cannot do alone, we can do together: Arabi Wrecking Crew (musicians helping to rebuild each others’ homes), Baton Rouge Foundation, MusiCares, Derek Gordon and Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Higher Ground, New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund, Tipitina’s Foundation, Actor’s Fund, Society of Singers, Preservation Hall, and all the others who are working as we are to help keep the musicians ‘afloat.’ We give special thanks to Delta Air Lines for making a few real miracles possible.”
For years I had heard of Wendy’s round-the-clock efforts to assist musicians, and now I can report first-hand that she was accessible and on-task at literally any hour I attempted to reach her. It is no wonder that acclaimed author and music commentator Nat Hentoff has called Ms. Oxenhorn “the most determined, resilient, and selfless person I have ever known.” Her vision for New Orleans’ future is very clear: “If low-income housing is not created for artists and for the poor, the very garden that grew this city of music will be at risk of extinction; and New Orleans will become a cardboard city without a soul.”
The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic
Mentioned above, the NOMC is a 501(c)3 non-profit under the Foundation for the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, co-sponsored by the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. Its mission is to provide for the health-care needs of musicians and their families.
“We all know that the unofficial toll of the storm is rising higher as we suffer the post-Katrina suicides, heart attacks, and strokes of seemingly healthy friends. Mental health advocates project that 260,000 Louisiana residents will develop post-traumatic stress syndrome.”
French-American Cultural Exchange
Even if I had never researched it, I would have expected the Jazz Foundation of America to make heroic efforts in order to assist afflicted New Orleans musicians: it fits its noble mission. But I was completely surprised to learn of the level of organized relief assembled in short order by the country of France, which one might assume would have many other priorities a half a globe away.
Tom McDermott (piano) and Evan Christopher (clarinet).
Photo credit: Scott Saltzman (2003)
“Our immediate goal was to find means to provide lodging, per diem, and some work in France for as many musician storm-victims as possible,” explains Emmanuel Morlet, the Artistic Attaché and Director of the Music Office of the French Embassy Cultural Services (based in New York City). “We began raising funds from public and private sources in France and elsewhere, including from festival promoter George Wein. We recognized that we could only support individuals, not families; but we did raise sufficient money to begin the program in January 2006. We started with Paris, which hosted four musicians: Leah Chase (vocalist), Evan Christopher (clarinet), Tom McDermott (piano), and David Torkanowsky (piano). Each performed concerts and gave master classes; and some artists then got additional gigs from these connections, including from the recording labels we had contacted.
“Our next avenue was to ask the various Cultural Centers in the Regions of France (beyond Paris) if they would also be interested in finding a way to host displaced musicians from Louisiana. Approximately 15 said yes; so we began planning. Among the musicians hosted was trumpeter Charlie Miller, who visited the Abbey of Ardennes in Calvados, where he performed at Jazz sous les Pommiers (Jazz under the Apple Trees).
“The Embassy also established grants that French festivals could apply for to assist in bringing Louisiana artists to their venues. Through this program, the eight members of the Mahogany Brass Band performed multiple times (including at Festival de Haute Garonne) and presented educational workshops. Twenty-six musicians performed at Festival de Perigueux, including Greg Stafford and Evan Christopher. Jimmy Thibodeaux performed at the Festival de Cognac and the Saulieu Festival. October 2006 brought the Hot Eight Brass Band to Festival de France Conte.
“All in all, we have some 60 displaced musicians doing residencies. I have seen many of them arrive in a very weary state, then observed them virtually brought back to life by these opportunities to perform for, teach, and interact with the public. We plan to continue this residency plan into the future.”
The Tipitina’s Foundation purchased over $250,000 in instruments from Jupiter Band Instruments, Inc. through the dealer New Orleans Music Exchange. On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, $500,000 of new instruments were handed over to the students during the [Instruments A-Comin’] celebration.... This year the instruments were donated to the 11 New Orleans schools that will have a functioning music program in the 2006-2007 school year....The Tipitina’s Foundation raises money for the program each spring with an annual benefit concert during the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Jimmy Glickman, owner of the New Orleans Music Exchange, has participated in the program since it began five years ago and purchases the instruments following wish-lists provided by the schools. Glickman also donates stands, drumsticks, and other music accessories to help build the music programs.
“You don’t have a musical culture unless you’re bringing the younger generation up along the way. For a whole year, it didn’t happen at all,” outlines Bill Taylor, a Director of Tipitina’s Foundation. “After the storm, a lot of instruments were donated. But many didn’t function well and were hard for us to deal with. The Foundation buys new instruments wholesale locally, as inexpensively as possible.”
“I really appreciate the work of the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and the Preservation Hall Fund, but they assist mostly with professional musicians. We focus on the students. You need the older ‘legends’ who created the music, the middle-aged musicians who perform it, and the younger generation to pick it up.”
Sponsors for these efforts included Popeye’s, Starz TV, and Bruce Springsteen. Tipitina’s Internship Program (T.I.P.) also resumed in September under the artistic direction of Donald Harrison, Jr. Also starting in September were weekly Sunday afternoon music workshops, free and open to any music student.
The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (also known as The Recording Academy) is known for the GRAMMY® Awards but has also created a variety of educational and human-services programs—including The GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares®, both established in 1989. The GRAMMY Foundation® seeks to cultivate the understanding, appreciation, and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture; MusiCares® provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.
By August 2006 the MusiCares® Hurricane Relief Fund had provided more than $3.5 million in financial assistance for basic needs to approximately 3,500 individuals directly affected by the disasters. Longer-term, deeper requirements met have included rent, relocation costs, and funds for medical care that had been postponed.
MusiCares® is also a lead partner of “Music Rising,” an initiative that has replaced the instruments of more than 2,000 displaced musicians located in more than 34 states. The number of musicians affected by the hurricanes is estimated to be as high as 7,000; each week new clients emerge who need assistance. MusiCares® was joined by Gibson Guitar, the Guitar Center Music Foundation, U2’s The Edge, and producer Bob Ezrin in this campaign.
“Grants are still available to New Orleans residents and across the United States via MusiCares®,” offers David Sears, Senior Director of Education Programs for the Grammy Foundation. “Donations are of course not coming in as regularly as they were immediately after Katrina. We don’t accept musical instruments from the public, as the cost of fixing them up can be prohibitive. Instead, we use donated funds to purchase them from wholesalers and retailers.”
The GRAMMY Foundation® initiated a special grant cycle to archive and preserve recorded sound collections of the Gulf Coast, announcing in August that $250,000 in grants had been awarded to 10 recipients, with another $650,000 in funds planned for granting next year.
The Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz EnsemblesSM program rewards top high school instrumentalists and singers with a week of music-making, often with GRAMMY Award-winning guest artists. “Because some of the NOCCA students were displaced, we made extra efforts to locate them and give them access to auditioning for the Grammy Jazz Ensemble, sometimes by extending the application deadline a bit.” For example, described Sears. “One student was not displaced, but his fellow students in the rhythm section were; so we arranged for professional rhythm players to play with him on his audition recording.”
The GRAMMY Signature SchoolsSM program (presented by 7 UP, with assistance from MENC: The National Association for Music Education) honors top public high school music programs. But it also recognizes that many schools struggle to maintain any music classes, much less a full curriculum. So it offers the Enterprise Award for needs-based applicants. “We certainly hope that affected Gulf Coast schools will consider applying for that Award,” encourages Sears.
Jazz at Lincoln Center announced in February that its Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Fund, administered through the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, had awarded 214 grants totaling $2.8 million for musicians and music industry-related enterprises from the Greater New Orleans area that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. These funds had been raised from ticket sales to the benefit concert produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center that had included a live national telethon on PBS/Live From Lincoln Center on September 17, 2005. Combined with an online eBay auction, a Blue Note CD, and other independent fundraising efforts by individuals and organizations all over the world, the event raised nearly $3 million for the fund. Some of the broad range of donors include the Jazz All-Stars at New Jersey State Prison; Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy; Guadalajara Jazz Festival, Mexico; festivals throughout Canada; American and Canadian Universities, High Schools, and Elementary Schools; Japanese Embassy; Festival de Jazz de Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; Rhode Island Hurricane Relief Festival; Turkish Government; Monterey Jazz Festival, California; Twins Jazz Club, Washington, DC; and Early Childhood Puppet Theatre, Ltd.
The Rebuild the Soul of America (RSOA) Charitable Trust is an independent, not-for-profit entity with projected assets (as of September 2006) of $2 million. Among its founding trustees are Wynton Marsalis, IAJE Executive Director Bill McFarlin, Michael Kazanjian (Kazanjian Bros., Inc. and the Kazanjian Foundation), and entertainment veterans Daniel Carlin (Chair Emeritus of The Recording Academy) and Lisa Marie Hoggs (Celebrate Jazz! founder). All after-tax profits from ticket sales and related net profits from TV, DVD, and CD deals from the Rebuild The Soul of America concert at the New Orleans Arena will benefit the RSOA Charitable Trust.
That August 2006 concert featured Stevie Wonder; Earth, Wind, & Fire; the Wynton Marsalis Septet; New Orleans Social Club; Yolanda Adams; Kirk Franklin; Kim Burrell; and Mary Mary. At the same time, renowned chef Emeril Lagasse and Wynton welcomed back 4,000 children to New Orleans with a culinary music experience, “Cooking with Music.” Also announced was the “Ambassador of Swing Talent Search,” in which Marsalis will search for the best undiscovered jazz talent in the Gulf Coast region: the thirteen-episode series begins in January.
Emeril Lagasse cooks while Wynton Marsalis and friends set the mood for "Cooking with Music."
Photo credit: Hisa Ayano
Emeril Lagasse welcomes students back to school at "Cooking with Music."
Photo credit: Hisa Ayano
Why the “Soul of America”? Marsalis had alluded to his view almost a year earlier, just a month after Katrina. “In the history of New Orleans lies much of the originality of American culture. Yet, what investment is our nation making in the arts, in cultivating our understanding of who we are? ...Unfortunately for us, and more so for our children, cultural issues in arts education continue to occupy a position of little significance on the nation’s political agenda. What could possibly be more important than who you are: your humanity, your soul? ...Because the city of New Orleans is always discussed in cultural terms, perhaps the rebuilding affords us the opportunity to raise our social consciousness through a more substantial commitment to the arts.”
Through the review of grant proposals in the areas of cultural and integrated arts, the Trust will support projects in New Orleans in the fiscal years of 2007 and 2008 focusing on four key areas specific to Rebuilding the Cultural Economy in America: Supporting Civic Life, Informing the Public, Supporting Musicians, and Supporting Integrated Arts.
Bring New Orleans Back Commission
Most of the targeted areas for RSOA grant funding are in line with Wynton Marsalis’ role as the Co-Chairman of the Cultural Committee of the Mayor’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission, whose other members represent architecture, artists, the economy, communications, festivals, restaurants, and local business and civic groups.
The committee’s three-year plan is to “rebuild our talent pool of artists, cultural groups, and cultural entrepreneurs; support community-based cultural traditions and repair and develop cultural facilities; market New Orleans as a world-class cultural capital; teach our arts and cultural traditions to our young people; and attract new investment from national and international sources.”
Mindful that money talks, it noted the relatively small amount of money that Louisiana and New Orleans had invested in 2003 in the “nonprofit cultural economy of the City”—and the return many times over of that money to City coffers by the jobs and spending generated. It also detailed the positive economic effect of the “city’s for-profit creative industries.” But it lamented how low New Orleans’ investment in such creative endeavors was compared to other cities studied.
Armed with the data that “commitment to our future culture is business in New Orleans,” the Committee intends to pursue every possible avenue of funding in order to bring the city back—and better. “The Bring New Orleans Back Commission interviewed more than 1,200 persons and found that arts education was highly valued by the vast majority of the students, teachers, and clients,” stated Richard A. Baker, Jr., the Fine Arts Program Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Education. “The population remaining in New Orleans, and scattered, values the arts both as economic and social influences necessary to make the area a better place to live.”
New Orleans Jazz Treasures
The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) recognized that many of the most important collections of jazz objects were destroyed or damaged by Katrina. Closed due to damage are The Louisiana State Museum (housing a jazz collection), the New Orleans Public Library City Archives, Southern University at New Orleans Center for African and African American Studies, Dillard University Archives and Special Collections, and Sisters of the Holy Family Collections.
With the assistance of a grant awarded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation, NOJO’s New Orleans Jazz Treasures program engages scholars, collectors, students, musicians, and more in mapping out for posterity the invaluable cultural wealth generated by the city’s jazz tradition. It will establish a baseline for what existed before the storm, reveal what remains, and point to the areas in need of conservation and—where possible—replacement.
“Louisiana is serious about jump-starting its recording industry, with an investment-based tax incentive...,” points out George Petersen of Mix magazine. “Modeled after the highly successful motion-picture incentives in many states, the music program rebates 10 to 20 percent back on money spent in the state for production expenses, such as studio fees, session players, engineers, hotels, catering, media, etc. The minimum expense to qualify is $15,000 over the course of a year—not necessarily on one project...as long as the work was done within the state.”
The first priority is affordable housing. If there are to be no teachers or students living in New Orleans, this is a moot question. Viable residential neighborhoods (Central City, Treme, Seventh Ward) must be repopulated via rent-subsidies and grants for home repairs.Beyond affordable housing, funding for music programs in public schools is crucial. Funding should come from everywhere: public and private.
The city needs affordable housing and jobs to provide the economic base for the population that has left so that it can return. Music education has always been under-funded in the public schools. Pay for decent teachers, instruments, and repaired and updated facilities are all needed.
The New Orleans Saints receive tens of millions of dollars from the state. It is an important economic driver for our city. But the music education of our children (and the education of our children) is more important. Our city, state, and federal government need to do more to fund these programs.
In order for (Greater) New Orleans to regain its full footing in jazz education, it’s definitely in need of funding. Education in general is in need of funding. If the funding is there, the items will be there. Then we can work on attitude and awareness. If we can get the musicians and the educators back to the city, that would be a positive start.
I would say to everyone reading this: “If you’d like to come here and build some affordable housing, please do!”
What is needed most is truthful, sincere, and honest leadership and advocacy. Support is needed: financial, resource, and mentorship....When I was hired as Coordinator of Music for New Orleans Public Schools, I asked about the music budget and was told ZERO. I used my own contacts and got donations of more than $500,000 of instruments; 1,200 full band uniforms; and two full sets of K-6 grade music books; plus wrote a music program “blueprint,” all in my first 60 days! But for the district to provide zero-funding for more music education: that goes against any possibility of a self-motivated rebuilding effort. If money is donated to the school district, there is very little chance it will find its way to music programs.
The crux of the problem is money, cash. Without tourists, the venues cannot afford to pay a decent rate for the bands. The bands can’t eat by playing for the door in New Orleans; so they are all on the move trying to gig outside of New Orleans. The cost of living in New Orleans has increased significantly, especially for renters.
Jazz instruction is very much private-lesson-driven. New Orleans had more mentors here than most places did. NOJO is trying to provide support on an individual basis rather than through large institutions. We say, let’s give funding to the musicians who can themselves figure out how they can best work to improve the community. These cultural leaders have done this for years. Let’s hire this cat and have him go into the schools; he’s been doing it for thirty years. Let’s fund a way to bring kids together to play with these mentors who’ve been doing it for decades. This has to be part of the solution—not only funding large institutions to solve our jazz-education concerns.We can’t approach this problem with a formula. Let’s face it: this is uncharted territory, post-Katrina. And New Orleans is unconventional to begin with. Jazz is unconventional. New Orleans is used to that.
Early in 2006 Phyllis Landrieu, one of our Public School Board members, took the initiative to form an ad hoc group calling itself the New Orleans Music Commission. It consisted of School Board members and staff, state music education officials, university and high-school professors, and several representatives of cultural organizations such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Foundation, Tipitina’s Foundation, and WWOZ.After months of intensive work, the Music Curriculum subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Gary Allen Wood (President/CEO of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) issued a report: 2010: What Vibrant Music Programs Will Look Like. The report called for a recommitment to the teaching of music fundamentals to all our school children.Among the report’s many recommendations was one that identified the need for a New Orleans music curriculum.... In my opinion we need to develop an Advocate-General position for music-in-the-schools with a view towards assuring the continuity of our New Orleans’ music traditions. Our effort would not be limited to one school but seek to place music programs in all schools—public, Catholic, and charter—placing band directors who are recognized as “tradition-bearers” and implementing a “New Orleans” music curriculum.
The devastated Lower Ninth Ward, formerly home to musicians such as Peter Badie.
Photo credit: New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
Clearly the affordable-housing challenges are mammoth ones that will take equally gigantic efforts from many entities in order to solve them. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and others have offered concrete recommendations, such as “preserving existing federal housing resources by repairing and reopening—rather than demolishing—habitable public housing and replacing all destroyed units.” And one organization has taken the lead in action for musicians’ housing.
The Musicians’ Village
When New Orleans native pianist/singer Harry Connick, Jr. agreed to be honorary chair of Habitat for Humanity’s “Operation Home Delivery” to assist the rebuilding effort, jazz saxophonist and fellow New Orleans native Branford Marsalis agreed to be honorary chair of the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity efforts. They, and Marsalis patriarch Ellis Marsalis, have brought heightened visibility to a plan to restore homes for displaced New Orleans musicians: The Musicians’ Village.
Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide by building decent, affordable houses that are sold to those in need at no profit through no-interest loans.... New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) was founded in 1983 and has constructed over one hundred homes in the New Orleans Metro area.... The Musicians’ Village, conceived by Harry and Branford, will consist of 81 Habitat-constructed homes for displaced New Orleans musicians. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, dedicated to the education and development of homeowners and others who will live nearby.... Construction began in early March, marking the first large-scale rebuilding plans in New Orleans.
“As of late September, 26 musicians have been approved for housing in the Musicians’ Village,” updates Jim Pate, the Executive Director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, which serves a five-parish area. “Over 60 more have already cleared the credit-check process or otherwise advanced significantly. This represents an upturn in numbers that stems from several primary causes, including assistance for the musicians by members of ELLA (Entertainment Law Legal Assistance) and other, pro bono, lawyers.
Badie's new home is now a Habitat House on this block.
Photo credit: New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
“I remain confident that the core area of the Musicians’ Village will be populated 40-50% by musicians and their families. This area includes 75 single-family homes, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, and the six senior-friendly duplexes. But that’s not the limit of what we can offer. There are 304 lots in the immediately surrounding area of the Upper Ninth Ward that are available for purchase by Habitat. This translates into space for 350-400 more homes. Factoring that in, I will estimate that some 30% of the overall footprint will be musicians’ homes.
“And if we fill that up, we do not intend to turn musicians away for lack of space. We are now buying yet more houses and lots adjacent to this area and also in the Treme community.
“All of these locales have been certified for rebuilding, and the living area of our houses is built a good two feet above the newly required height to avoid future flood damage.”
“As needed as this home-ownership program is, it’s only one piece of the puzzle,” offers Pate. “Another piece took effect in September and will have a major effect within six months: the Louisiana Recovery Assistance Program offers significant incentives to rental owners to maintain affordable rates at the lower end of the housing spectrum, even within higher-level developments.
“Another needed puzzle-piece is to find a way to bring back the rental owners who used to live in a neighborhood and then rent out several homes nearby. Such owners are frustrated by the high cost of building materials and the inordinate time it takes standing in line to get them. I believe part of the answer may be to establish a ‘building-materials bank’ along the model of a ‘food bank’: create a co-op of entities willing to group their buying power together in order to obtain lower costs.
“Habitat is also meeting with other organizations to explore the potential of creating two specific kinds of housing for musicians: ‘gig housing’ and ‘transitional housing.’ The former would parallel the business model of extended-stay hotels. The transitional home would be a locale where some displaced musicians might be able to live while working in the city to establish their qualifications as a Habitat applicant.
“Among the city’s biggest needs right now is an accelerated distribution of currently blighted properties. There are some 27,000 such lots in the New Orleans area; and only about 2,500 have been distributed for rebuilding. But now that the LRA buyouts are beginning, acceleration should occur. Habitat needs those lots. We have the funds to buy five times the number of houses that we currently have, if we had the land. It’s important that a significant percentage of new housing be affordable.”
Lending a Hand
“The most crucial need for Habitat right now is volunteers,” states Pate. “The volunteers to date have been unbelievable, immeasurable, and have as a team accomplished more than all the governmental entities put together. However, their numbers now fluctuate greatly, as the post-Katrina rebuilding process is not foremost in the news these days. I know we can count on a steady stream during summers and ‘alternative’ spring breaks, when so many college students come here to assist. But during the rest of the year, the varying numbers of volunteers of course wreaks havoc on our construction schedules.
“In our five-parish service-area alone, we could use 1000 more volunteers on any given day, 500 of those in the Musicians’ Village area alone: we could put them all to work. And the Gulf Coast Habitat affiliates could use another 1000 volunteers each day. So we welcome all volunteers!”
Wynton Marsalis leads a "second line" for New Orleans returning school children at "Cooking with Music."
Photo credit: Hiso Ayano
By this point in your reading, you have hopefully found numerous reasons to act. A month after Katrina, Wynton Marsalis spoke at the National Press Club Luncheon as to why the nation and the world should care about the future of his hometown:
New Orleans is the most unique of American cities because it is the only city in the world that created its own full culture—architecture, music, and festive ceremonies. It’s of singular importance to the United States of America because it was the original melting pot with a mixture of Spanish, French, British, West African, and American people living in the same city. The collision of these cultures created jazz, and jazz is important because it’s the only art form that embodies the fundamental principles of American democracy. That’s why it swept the country and the world, representing the best of the United States....The city needs to, and the state needs to, extend its resources to bring the cultural components of New Orleans—the neighborhood components—back. And also the high-art culture, because in New Orleans, they both work together.... I played with a funk band; I played with the Fairview Baptist Church marching band; and I played with the New Orleans Symphony. That means I could play Beethoven’s music; and I could play “Oh, It Ain’t My Fault”; and I could play “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker.” Now that gives you a certain understanding. And you see very different people in all of those venues; but you see the same people there, too....New Orleanians are blues people. We are resilient; so we are sure that our city will come back. This tragedy, however, provides an opportunity for the American people to demonstrate to ourselves and to the world that we are one nation determined to overcome our legacies of injustices based on race and class. At this time all New Orleanians need the nation to unite in a deafening crescendo of affirmation to silence that desperate cry that is this disaster. We’re only as civilized as our level of hospitality. Let’s demonstrate to the world that what actually makes America the most powerful nation on earth is not guns, pornography, and material wealth but transcendent and abiding soul, something perhaps we have lost a grip on, and this catastrophe gives us a great opportunity to handle up on.
Branford Marsalis served as guest editor for the September 2006 issue of DownBeat, a special edition largely dedicated to an exploration of New Orleans roots. I urge you to find a copy and read it. I spent over half my life in The Crescent City but still learned a lot from this edition about why the city is so important to jazz—to music—and why it should be restored.
The post-Katrina exodus of musicians from New Orleans is surely the largest since Storyville closed in 1917. That exodus of far fewer musicians some 90 years ago accelerated the spread of jazz nationwide, and perhaps great musical gifts will come out of this tragedy as well. You can bet that doctoral theses will still explore the topic a century from now. But in the meantime, we should do all we can to employ the talents of these artists, either where they have migrated or by creating opportunities for them to return to their native home.
A critical process for any rebuilding of the U.S. Gulf Coast post-Katrina is the full restoration of its arts and cultural sector. The region boasts one of the richest cultural legacies anywhere, internationally recognized for its music, literature, cuisine, and dynamic heritage. The rich history of the Gulf is reflected in the arts and culture of its ethnically and linguistically diverse population....
The National Jazz Center
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, and the Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board announced on May 30, 2006 plans to create a 20-acre performance-arts park that is to be anchored by a new National Jazz Center. The plans were created by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne and also call for an outdoor auditorium, new city government buildings, a new civil courts building, a major redevelopment of the Hyatt Regency site, and an open-air Jazz Park. The National Jazz Center will house the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) as well as performance space, studios, classrooms, a library, and offices.
“The new National Jazz Center can be a focal point for rebuilding our talent pool of jazz musicians as well as other artists, cultural troupes, and entrepreneurs that the Cultural Committee of the Mayor’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission found to be a critical component of rebuilding the City,” says Wynton Marsalis. “This project will complement and enhance New Orleans’ vibrant Jazz Culture.”
The Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board is composed of leaders in architecture, urban planning, real estate, economics, business, and the arts from New Orleans and worldwide and includes Marsalis and Irvin Mayfield, NOJO Founder and Artistic Director.
“When it comes to rebuilding, the infrastructure of the National Jazz Center is another approach that works: investors,” emphasizes Mayfield. “We have people who are invested—financially, emotionally, civically—in seeing this thing built, regardless of the demands of the marketplace. Because the bottom has dropped out of the marketplace. New Orleans is at 50% of what it used to be. But 50% of New Orleans is better than 100% of a lot of places.
“I’m optimistic about the Center; but at the end of the day, it’s the economics that will make it happen. The developers and city are behind it, but a lot of the money has to come through the federal government and then the state government.”
The water-line on the van demonstrates the intensity of the post-Katrina flood in New Orleans.
Photo credit: Jesuit High School
A Call to Action: Stay Engaged
“All this stuff is so connected: education, jazz education, the state of jazz in New Orleans. Any folks who don’t think they should be engaged in the political process need only take a look at what’s going on right now,” says Mayfield. “I see millions of dollars coming in at the state level; but I’m very concerned as to whether we’re going to see this money come in locally for our needs—a stated, big portion of which is for education and jazz education.
“People in New Orleans understand that we’re at risk for losing jazz. The country needs to understand that this is their music, America’s music. It would be as if Washington, D.C. burned the original Constitution, saying, ‘We don’t need this one; we have a lot of copies; we’ve got it in our heads.’
“This is not a small issue about a bunch of jazz purists who love jazz; no, it’s a lot bigger than that. Americans have to stay engaged with this challenge. Because believe me, a lot of funding checks are coming this way—but we need to stay engaged to ensure that this money is going where we all said it would go. I’m looking at these federal dollars that are supposedly coming into the State of Louisiana, that the State is then saying it doesn’t have, that the federal government is saying the State does have. That’s the time for me to wear my hat as Cultural Ambassador for New Orleans.
“This is the American people’s money. So if you are a jazz fan, now is the time to engage in a revolution for jazz. I had thought that the worst time was when so many major record labels killed their jazz departments a few years ago. But this is a whole ’nother kind of war, trying to explain to people how important this culture is. You can find jazz across the country, from Arizona to Wisconsin to New York. But people should understand that when New Orleans loses its battle for jazz, everyone loses everywhere else, too.”
The Battle for New Orleans
The next decade of New Orleans music-making will affect the future generations of all kinds of music, just as it always has—not just influencing jazz. The streetbeat and jazz sounds of New Orleans are part of the roots of the jazz, rock, pop, hip-hop, and dance musics heard around the world. New Orleans has always been a place where virtually all genres of music were performed simultaneously. You could go there to hear opera or the classics; or traditional New Orleans jazz, swing band, bebop, modern, avant-garde; or rhythm and blues; or zydeco, cajun, bluegrass, and other folk; or metal, rock, or house music. You could not only hear it there, you could learn it there. It was all present; it was all alive; it was not a museum piece. That existence has been threatened and is perhaps now half its former self, and that will have an effect on the musical world around it.
This city is not done. Its residents are not done. If you’ve visited there since Katrina, you know that most New Orleanians are not citizens for the status quo: they do not take many things for granted anymore. They have effected significant changes in the city in a short period of time, and they are ready for more.
Be a tourist: the city is open for business. Go hear the music and eat the food; drink a little. Buy some records there; make a record there. Then tour some of the destruction. Lend a hand and build, if you can. Call your senator or congressman with your opinion. Make a donation of time or money. It’s an investment in the future history of jazz—because the people entrusted with its cultural origins are not done contributing, either.
“I’m engaged: my dad would not want me to do anything else,” proclaims Irvin Mayfield, who lost his father to the floodwaters of Katrina. With determination in his voice, he reiterates his stance: “I am going to fight this to the bitter end, kicking and screaming until that National Jazz Center is built and until any kid who wants to learn jazz in New Orleans can.”
NEW ORLEANS, POST-KATRINA, AT A GLANCE
Total federal funds dispersed so far to rebuild homes: $0[A]
Arts and Culture
MISSISSIPPI & BEYOND, POST-KATRINA, AT A GLANCE
Though this article focuses on New Orleans, the devastation extended far beyond, including to the land of blues: neighboring Mississippi.
Arts and Culture
Mississippi Arts Commission Executive Director Malcolm White said that art is often the stepchild in recovery efforts. “Our greatest concern is that art will be considered something extra,” White said. “We believe it is essential, a major component of the DNA of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” [L]
A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
The scale of a disaster such as the Gulf Coast hurricanes is difficult for anyone to fathom. The following statistics may offer some perspective.
End Notes for Sidebars
[C] Kromm, p. 27.
[D] Reece, Jason; Smedley, Brian D.; and Washington, Tracie L. (editors). Housing in New Orleans: One Year After Katrina. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Gulf Coast Advocacy Center, The Opportunity Agenda, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Published August 2006 at <www.opportunityagenda.org/site/c.mwL5KkN0LvH/b.2028631/k.72E0/PostKatrina_Housing_Report.htm>, p.3.
[E] Kromm, p. 43.
[F] Kromm, p. 59.
[G] Kromm, p. 69.
[H] Kromm, p. 15.
[I] Kromm, p. 27.
[J] Kromm, p. 43.
[K] Kromm, p. 69.
[L] Kromm, p. 70.
[M] Kromm, p. 83.
 For the author’s own reflections immediately after visiting New Orleans, read his article, “The Forgotten City,” STYLE Weekly, Richmond, Virginia, March 22, 2006, also published at <www.styleweekly.com/article.asp?idarticle=12027>.
 Reece, Jason; Smedley, Brian D.; and Washington, Tracie L. (editors). Housing in New Orleans: One Year After Katrina. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Gulf Coast Advocacy Center, The Opportunity Agenda, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Published at <www.opportunityagenda.org/site/c.mwL5KkN0LvH/b.2028631/k.72E0/PostKatrina_Housing_Report.htm>, p. 6.
 Joseph Torregano is a clarinetist/saxophonist who was formerly Director of Bands at Francis Gregory Junior High School within the New Orleans Public School system and currently holds the same post at East St. John High School in Reserve, Louisiana. Interviewed 10/2/06.
 Freedman, David. “Where We Are 11 Months After.” Published July 24, 2006 at <www.wwoz.org/blog/blog_df8.php>. Freedman is General Manager of community radio station WWOZ-FM in New Orleans. Efforts to interview Mr. Freedman directly were unsuccessful.
 Irvin Mayfield is Founder and Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Inc. (NOJO), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to celebrating and advancing jazz’s role in American culture and New Orleans’ role in jazz. He also serves as Cultural Ambassador for the City of New Orleans. Visit <www.thenojo.com> and <www.irvinmayfield.com>. Interviewed 10/6/06.
 Wood, Guy. “News from District VI.” The Louisiana Musician. Published by the Louisiana Music Educators Association, September 2006, p. 15.
 Efforts to contact Ms. Landrieu for an updated report were not successful.
 Kromm, Chris (editor). “One Year After Katrina: The State of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.” Southern Exposure, Volume 34, No. 2. Durham, NC: Institute for Southern Studies, August 2006, p. 43. The sub-organization sponsoring this report, Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, was launched in October 2005 and “aims to promote a more democratic and accountable reconstruction in the South.” For print copies, visit <http://southernstudies.org/support.asp>.
 Details are available at <www.nops.k12.la.us> and <www.algierscharterschools.org/acsa.htm>.
 Kromm, p. 45.
 Hill, Paul T. and Hannaway, Jane. The Future of Public Education in New Orleans. Urban Institute. Published January 2006, excerpt published at <www.urban.org/Publications/900913.html>. “The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration.”
 Phyllis Landrieu, President of the School Board of the New Orleans Public Schools. Published August 2006 at <www.nops.k12.la.us/content/homepage/documents/2006_board/president.htm>.
 Associated Press. “Attorneys Argue New Orleans School Employees' Rights in Lawsuit.” September 8, 2006. As published at <www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/uptotheminute.cfm?recid=6205>.
 Brice Miller was the relatively recent Coordinator of Music Programs for New Orleans Public Schools until he resigned September 27, 2006. He is Artistic Director/CEO of the New Orleans Jazz Education Foundation, Mississippi Coordinator of the Jazz Foundation of America, and Proprietor/Event Coordinator of Brice Miller Productions. Previous to Katrina, he was in the NOJEF post but also the Jazz Studies Coordinator for New Orleans Public Schools and the Program Coordinator for the University of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Quintet. Visit <www.bricemillerproductions.com> and <www.myspace/bricemillermusic.com>. Interviewed 9/28/06.
 Visit <www.nocca.com>. Interviewed 10/3/06.
 Interviewed 10/3/06.
 Interviewed 9/25/06.
 Interviewed 9/19/06.
 Interviewed 9/17/06.
 Visit <http://mfa.loyno.edu>. Interviewed 9/19/06. Efforts to contact Dr. Turner directly were unsuccessful.
 Visit <www.music.uno.edu>, <www.jazz-ed.net>, and <www.thrascher.com>. Interviewed 9/19/06.
 Visit <www.satchmo.com/leroyjones>. Interviewed 9/23/06.
 Efforts to obtain a copy of this ordinance were unsuccessful.
 Gregory Davis is the Educational Programs Director and the Jazz Coordinator for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as well as the liaison between the NOJHF and Festival Productions. In these roles he books all of the brass bands, Social and Pleasure Clubs, and Mardi Gras Indians appearances at the Fest, plus college, university, and high school ensembles and other special events. His own company, “Blodie Entertainment,” currently books entertainment for Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans and many other private functions. A co-founder of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band who still records and tours with the band as time permits, he teaches within the Music Industry Program at Loyola University. Visit <www.nojhf.org>. Interviewed 9/20-9/22/06.
 Visit <www.BasinStreetRecords.com>. Interviewed 9/17/06.
 Interviewed 9/25/06.
 John Shoup has been manager of the Dukes of Dixieland for 32 years. Visit <www.dukesofdixieland.com>. Interviewed 9/18/06.
 Irma Thomas, known as the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” is a living legend of blues song and was owner of the club “The Lion’s Den.” Interviewed 9/17/06.
 Reece, p. 9.
 Reece, p. 3.
 Reece, p. 14.
 Visit <www.neworleansmusiciansclinic.org>, <http://arabiwreckingkrewe.net> (a temporary site for <www.arabiwreckingkrewe.com>, which is under reconstruction).
 D. Santiago is affiliated with the Backbeat Foundation, a Louisiana non-profit corporation whose mission is to foster support of the rich New Orleans cultural heritage by providing assistance to local musicians through both music programming and grant assistance. Visit <www.backbeatfoundation.org> and <www.rhythmicrootsmusic.com>. Interviewed 10/4/06.
 Efforts to contact the Contemporary Arts Center were unsuccessful.
 Interviewed 9/19/06.
 Hentoff, Nat. “Another Great Night in Harlem: Bringing Life Back to the Living.” The Village Voice, 9/25/03. Published at <www.villagevoice.com/news/0340,hentoff,47380,6.html>.
 From <www.neworleansmusiciansclinic.org>.
 NOMC Rhythms Newsletter, New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Music Clinic, Edition 8, Fall 2006.
 Efforts to contact these musicians directly were unsuccessful.
 Interviewed 9/27/06. Persons interested in making financial contributions to the 501(c) non-profit “FACE” (French-American Cultural Exchange) so as to bring more New Orleans musicians to France to perform and teach in residencies should visit <www.facecouncil.org>.
 From Jupiter Band Instruments press release, 9/13/06.
 Interviewed 9/21/06. Efforts to contact the Preservation Hall Fund directly were unsuccessful.
 Efforts to contact Donald Harrison directly were unsuccessful.
 From <www.tipitinas.com/foundation/newsletter/200608/>.
 David Sears has specific responsibilities for the Grammy Jazz Ensembles and Grammy Signature Schools. Interviewed 9/27/06.
 Marsalis, Wynton. “Advocate Insider.” Arts and Culture Advocate, Volume 5, Number 2. Philadelphia, PA: Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Winter 2005, p. 10. The article summarizes his address at the National Press Club Luncheon on October 20, 2005. Published at <www.philaculture.org/about/archive/Winter_05.pdf>.
 From <www.rsoatrust.org/about_us.html>.
 Report of the Cultural Committee, Mayor’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission. New Orleans, LA: January 17, 2006, p. 25.
 Report of the Cultural Committee, p. 6.
 Report of the Cultural Committee, p. 10.
 Report of the Cultural Committee, p. 11.
 Interviewed 10/4/06.
 From <www.thenojo.com/news/story.cfm?ID=4>, published 06/14/2006.
 Petersen, George. “Life Goes On.” Mix, Vol. 30, No. 9. Overland Park, KS: PRISM Business Media, September 2006, p. 10.
 Reece, p. 4.
 From <http://legallee.typepad.com/noahhohd/musicians_village/index.html>.
 Visit <www.habitat-nola.org> regarding the New Orleans area and <www.habitat.org> regarding the greater Gulf Coast region. Interviewed 10/10/06.
 Kromm, p. 69.
 From <http://184.108.40.206/news/story.cfm?ID=17>, published 05/30/06.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Antonio J. García is a Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he directs the Jazz Orchestra I; instructs Applied Jazz Trombone, Small Jazz Ensemble, Music Industry, and various jazz courses; founded a B.A. Music Business Emphasis (for which he initially served as Coordinator); and directs the Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band. An alumnus of the Eastman School of Music and of Loyola University of the South, he has received commissions for jazz, symphonic, chamber, film, and solo works—instrumental and vocal—including grants from Meet The Composer, The Commission Project, The Thelonious Monk Institute, and regional arts councils. His music has aired internationally and has been performed by such artists as Sheila Jordan, Arturo Sandoval, Jim Pugh, Denis DiBlasio, James Moody, and Nick Brignola. Composition/arrangement honors include IAJE (jazz band), ASCAP (orchestral), and Billboard Magazine (pop songwriting). His works have been published by Kjos Music, Hal Leonard, Kendor Music, Doug Beach Music, ejazzlines, Walrus, UNC Jazz Press, Three-Two Music Publications, and his own garciamusic.com, with five recorded on CDs by Rob Parton’s JazzTech Big Band (Sea Breeze and ROPA JAZZ). His scores for independent films have screened across the U.S. and in Italy, Macedonia, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, India, Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Israel, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
A Bach/Selmer trombone clinician, Mr. García serves as the jazz clinician for The Conn-Selmer Institute. He has freelanced as trombonist, bass trombonist, or pianist with over 70 nationally renowned artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, and Phil Collins—and has performed at the Montreux, Nice, North Sea, Pori (Finland), New Orleans, and Chicago Jazz Festivals. He has produced recordings or broadcasts of such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Jim Pugh, Dave Taylor, Susannah McCorkle, Sir Roland Hanna, and the JazzTech Big Band and is the bass trombonist on Phil Collins’ CD “A Hot Night in Paris” (Atlantic) and DVD “Phil Collins: Finally...The First Farewell Tour” (Warner Music). An avid scat-singer, he has performed vocally with jazz bands, jazz choirs, and computer-generated sounds. He is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). A New Orleans native, he also performed there with such local artists as Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Irma Thomas, and Al Hirt.
Mr. García is a Research Faculty member at The University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa) and the Associate Jazz Editor of the International Trombone Association Journal. He serves as a Network Expert (for Improvisation Materials) for the Jazz Education Network and has served as President’s Advisory Council member and Editorial Advisory Board member. His newest book, Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading (Meredith Music), explores avenues for creating structures that correspond to course objectives. His book Cutting the Changes: Jazz Improvisation via Key Centers (Kjos Music) offers musicians of all ages the opportunity to improvise over standard tunes using just their major scales. He is Co-Editor and Contributing Author of Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study (published by NAfME) and authored a chapter within The Jazzer’s Cookbook (published by Meredith Music). Within the International Association for Jazz Education he served as Editor of the Jazz Education Journal, President of IAJE-IL, International Co-Chair for Curriculum and for Vocal/Instrumental Integration, and Chicago Host Coordinator for the 1997 Conference. He served on the Illinois Coalition for Music Education coordinating committee, worked with the Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to develop standards for multi-cultural music education, and received a curricular grant from the Council for Basic Education. He has also served as Director of IMEA’s All-State Jazz Choir and Combo and of similar ensembles outside of Illinois. He is the recipient of the Illinois Music Educators Association’s 2001 Distinguished Service Award.
Regarding Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading, Darius Brubeck says, "How one grades turns out to be a contentious philosophical problem with a surprisingly wide spectrum of responses. García has produced a lucidly written, probing, analytical, and ultimately practical resource for professional jazz educators, replete with valuable ideas, advice, and copious references." Jamey Aebersold offers, "This book should be mandatory reading for all graduating music ed students." Janis Stockhouse states, "Groundbreaking. The comprehensive amount of material García has gathered from leaders in jazz education is impressive in itself. Plus, the veteran educator then presents his own synthesis of the material into a method of teaching and evaluating jazz improvisation that is fresh, practical, and inspiring!" And Dr. Ron McCurdy suggests, "This method will aid in the quality of teaching and learning of jazz improvisation worldwide."
About Cutting the Changes, saxophonist David Liebman states, “This book is perfect for the beginning to intermediate improviser who may be daunted by the multitude of chord changes found in most standard material. Here is a path through the technical chord-change jungle.” Says vocalist Sunny Wilkinson, “The concept is simple, the explanation detailed, the rewards immediate. It’s very singer-friendly.” Adds jazz-education legend Jamey Aebersold, “Tony’s wealth of jazz knowledge allows you to understand and apply his concepts without having to know a lot of theory and harmony. Cutting the Changes allows music educators to present jazz improvisation to many students who would normally be scared of trying.”
Of his jazz curricular work, Standard of Excellence states: “Antonio García has developed a series of Scope and Sequence of Instruction charts to provide a structure that will ensure academic integrity in jazz education.” Wynton Marsalis emphasizes: “Eight key categories meet the challenge of teaching what is historically an oral and aural tradition. All are important ingredients in the recipe.” The Chicago Tribune has highlighted García’s “splendid solos...virtuosity and musicianship...ingenious scoring...shrewd arrangements...exotic orchestral colors, witty riffs, and gloriously uninhibited splashes of dissonance...translucent textures and elegant voicing” and cited him as “a nationally noted jazz artist/educator...one of the most prominent young music educators in the country.” Down Beat has recognized his “knowing solo work on trombone” and “first-class writing of special interest.” The Jazz Report has written about the “talented trombonist,” and Cadence noted his “hauntingly lovely” composing as well as CD production “recommended without any qualifications whatsoever.” Phil Collins has said simply, “He can be in my band whenever he wants.” García is also the subject of an extensive interview within Bonanza: Insights and Wisdom from Professional Jazz Trombonists (Advance Music), profiled along with such artists as Bill Watrous, Mike Davis, Bill Reichenbach, Wayne Andre, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Jim Pugh, and Ed Neumeister.
The Secretary of the Board of The Midwest Clinic, Mr. García has adjudicated festivals and presented clinics in Canada, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, and South Africa, including creativity workshops for Motorola, Inc.’s international management executives. The partnership he created between VCU Jazz and the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal merited the 2013 VCU Community Engagement Award for Research. He has served as adjudicator for the International Trombone Association’s Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, and Rath Jazz Trombone Scholarship competitions and the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition and has been asked to serve on Arts Midwest’s “Midwest Jazz Masters” panel and the Virginia Commission for the Arts “Artist Fellowship in Music Composition” panel. He has been repeatedly published in Down Beat; JAZZed; Jazz Improv; Music, Inc.; The International Musician; The Instrumentalist; and the journals of NAfME, IAJE, ITA, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Percussive Arts Society, Arts Midwest, Illinois Music Educators Association, and Illinois Association of School Boards. Previous to VCU, he served as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Combos at Northwestern University, where he taught jazz and integrated arts, was Jazz Coordinator for the National High School Music Institute, and for four years directed the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Formerly the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, he was selected by students and faculty there as the recipient of a 1992 “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” award and nominated as its candidate for 1992 CASE “U.S. Professor of the Year” (one of 434 nationwide). He was recipient of the VCU School of the Arts’ 2015 Faculty Award of Excellence for his teaching, research, and service. Visit his web site at <www.garciamusic.com>.
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