Featuring internationally renowned recording artists Sean Jones and Lisa Henry
Washington, DC – With lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and United Airlines, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz will bring its Peer-to-Peer jazz education program to Milwaukee public schools May 9-13, 2022. Combining performance with educational information, these “informances” will be presented by the National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Quintet, comprising five of the country’s most gifted high school music students. They will be featured alongside internationally acclaimed trumpet recording artist Sean Jones, Kansas City jazz and blues vocalist and a former winner of the Institute’s International Jazz Vocals Competition Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. JB Dyas. Each school visit will include an assembly program featuring a musical performance for all students, followed by workshops for each school’s jazz band and choir with the visiting student performers playing alongside and sharing ideas with their Milwaukee counterparts.
“We’ve found that sometimes young people can learn about certain things better from kids their same age, and one of them is jazz,” said jazz great Herbie Hancock, Institute Chairman, NEA Jazz Master, and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “And when you hear how accomplished these musicians are at such a young age, you know their peers are going to listen.”
Besides playing jazz at a level that belies their years, the students will talk with their Wisconsin peers about what jazz is, why it’s important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. They also will discuss the important American values that jazz represents: teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion early in life, being persistent, and believing in yourself. When young people hear this important message from kids their same age, they are often more likely to listen.
The members of the all-star quintet selected nationwide to participate in the Wisconsin tour include alto saxophonist Ebban Dorsey (17) from Baltimore; trombonist Melvin Nimtz (18) from New Orleans; pianist Nathan Tatsuta (15) from Santa Ana, CA; bassist Kenny Haddox (17) from Dallas; and drummer JJ Mazza (17) from Denver. “We’ve really grown a lot by exploring Sean Jones’ music in preparation for the tour,” said Dorsey, who was featured in last year’s peer-to-peer jazz group which presented a jazz informance webinar for the US Department of Education (and has now had over a half million views on YouTube). “His compositions are both a challenge and a joy to play and listen to.”
Immediately following the informances, Jones, Henry, and Dyas will conduct jazz workshops for each host school’s jazz band and choir. The visiting students will play side-by-side with their Wisconsin counterparts, providing tutelage peer to peer. In so doing, they will teach and learn from one another not unlike what Herbie Hancock did with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, and so many other eminent band mates over the past half century. They’ll also learn about each other’s cities and cultures.
“We’re really looking forward to hanging out and playing jazz with the students in a completely different part of the country,” added Nimtz, who was recently selected to this year’s edition of the Carnegie Hall National Youth Jazz Orchestra. “I’ve heard that not unlike my hometown of New Orleans, Milwaukee takes its jazz seriously.” Indeed, the city has produced such distinguished artists as Lynne Arriale, Bunky Green, Woody Herman, Al Jarreau, Brian Lynch, Willie Pickens, and others of that stature.
The weeklong tour will conclude with two performances open to the public on May 13 at Milwaukee’s newest jazz club, Bar Centro (804 E Center St.), where Milwaukee residents and visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of music with Jones and Henry alongside jazz’s future “young lions.” The septet will perform standards, jazz classics, and contemporary jazz, including compositions from Jones’ and Henry’s latest recordings. The shows begin at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm. For further information call 414-455-3751 or visit https://barcentro.com.