Jazz for Young People
I’m working with my friends at Jazz at Lincoln Center on a ten volume set of teacher’s guides to Jazz for Young People. These books and digital downloads will serve as an introduction to jazz music to thousands of students in music classrooms and in community jazz education courses. Lesson plans are by the music educator Sharon Burch and there’s audio and video recordings by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and classic recordings by jazz giants from history. Starting with Volume 1, this book introduces the music of New Orleans and Jelly Roll Morton. Volumes 2 - 10 will take students through the Swing Era, Bebop, Cool Jazz and Afro-Cuban Jazz.
At first, the idea was to design one cover that could be used for all ten volumes, but in a crafty negotiating ploy, I offered to design 10 covers for the same price as one. I enjoy thinking that the first thing some kids will ever see or hear about Jelly Roll Morton will be my drawing of him playing a piano that’s also a building.
Wynton Marsalis 50th Birthday
It doesn’t happen every day that you meet one of your heroes. When that meeting turns into a friendship and then a collaboration, you know you’ve been blessed.
Wynton and I met almost twenty years ago, for a poster project that we both signed. Since then I designed a poster for The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that depicted him in his Crescent City hometown, we’ve worked together on two books, and I spent a week out on the road with him and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra making sketchbook drawings.
Wynton has won a Pulitzer, nine Grammys and numerous other citations and honors, he has been an inspiration to many, many musicians and people who are making their way in the world as artists. Whenever we meet, he always acknowledges the accomplishment of survival with the words “So, we’re still out here.”
I’ve admired so much about him, the way he leads fifteen of the greatest jazz musicians of any era in the JALC Orchestra, the way he sits with young musicians who bring their instruments to a concert hoping for advice from the maestro, and his thoughtful writing and lectures on the important place that jazz music holds in our history and culture. I’ve seen him working on a symphony in a hotel room with no piano, and I’ve seen him stay late after a gig talking to fans until it’s just him and the guy locking the place up.
Tuesday is Wynton’s 50th birthday. There has been a week-long series of concerts at JALC’s Rose Theater featuring special guests and some serious swing. I wish I was there acknowledging the accomplishment.
Here's a preview of our second book for Candlewick Press, our first book, Jazz ABZ is still in print, (turns out kids love books with Coleman Hawkins in them.) The new book is a picture book for young readers about sounds titled Squeak, Rumble, Whomp Whomp Whomp! We're trying to get it finished while we're still on this earth. It's scheduled for Fall 2012.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra 2
Buchanan’s wedding reception in The Great Gatsby. The street’s named for hometown hero
Muhammad Ali. Our next stop was a 10-hour drive into the Deep South, Meridian MS. The band rides in a charter bus but Wynton likes to get an early start and arrive a few hours before everyone else. Early meant 4:00 am. Meet downstairs, load the SUV and hit the road. I slept in my clothes to make sure I wasn’t the last one downstairs.
has the ability to solve any problem the road may offer before it becomes a problem. The car is always stocked with whatever we need, and the travel from town to town is so smooth that I
forget how many miles we’re clocking during the week. Production manager Ernie Gregory also rides with us, Ernie’s been around jazz his whole life and he has the stories to prove it.
covered with dead catfish.
We’re not far from the spot where three civil rights workers were murdered in the summer of 1964. A lot has changed in America since then, but traveling through the South this week I feel a not-so-subtle level of racism still looming here. We spot a number of Confederate flags, there’s even one tucked away backstage in the historic Opera House when we arrive.