Monday, May 2, 2011

Jazz, the Next Generation

The table for tomorrow’s history is being set during the day, each Saturday.

I’ve written about and photographed the Mutual Musicians Foundation at 1823 Highland (here and here). Once the black musicians' union building, today it is a National Historic Landmark known for all night jazz jams. It’s not just Kansas City’s most historic structure, but one of the most historic buildings in jazz history.

But not all of the significant activity there happens overnight.

Each Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m., students receive music lessons from Kansas City’s accomplished jazz musicians. The program, headed by trombonist Osmond Fisher, is free to the students.

That’s right. There is no charge.

The day I was there, student ages spanned from 5 to high school. The band, dubbed Young Jazz Masters, rehearsed for a performance at the Gem Theater, less than a block from the Foundation, as part of the 18th and Vine Festival. That festival, co-produced by the American Jazz Museum and Penn Valley Community College, gave 45 student bands the chance over two days to perform and be critiqued on the Gem stage.

If you’re interested in the Mutual Musicians Foundation Saturday program, either with a student to participate or with a donation to support it, contact the Foundation at 816-471-5212 or Osmond Fisher at 216-256-8332.

For me, it was a treat to hear the Young Jazz Masters practice in a building which has hosted so much jazz history. And it was a delight to cheer them in the student competition.

How much a treat and how delightful? Decide for yourself through the photos below. As always, clicking one should open a larger version of it.

Young Jazz Masters, directed by Osmond Fisher, rehearse inside the Mutual Musicians Foundation

Students practice...

...While enveloped by jazz history

Taking instruction

The horn section starts at age 5 (and can blow)

Appreciating the solo

This horn player is dubious of the photographer

Young Jazz Masters rehearse prior to...

...Taking the stage at the Gem Theater. My prediction: This isn't the last time many of them will be on that stage.

Back at the Foundation. I don't usually post photos of people who mug for the camera, but who can resist a beaming multi-instrumentalist surrounded by history?

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