March 6, 2015
The Madison Jazz Society (MJS) closes its year-long 30th anniversary celebration with a concert on March 29 presenting the Four Other Brothers from Illinois, at the Coliseum Bar in downtown Madison.
Continuing their organizational efforts to keep jazz alive the MJS anniversary celebration features the musical artistry of jazz ensemble, the Four Other Brothers. The group consists of Randy Reyman, John Cooper, Todd Kelly, and Andrew Cheetham. “The Four Other Brothers are all professors at Illinois universities who perform with an exceptional three-piece rhythm section,” said MJS president, Linda Marty Schmitz, in a recent press release regarding the event. “Their performances are an exciting mix of standards, as well as historically interesting pieces which feature the musical styles of significant jazz icons of the past.”
Joining the brothers will be local artists Johannes Wallman, John Christensen, and Tom Marko. MJS’s press release claims the regional collaboration between Illinois and local talent showcases the ‘level of musicianship, the variety and interest of the music played and the demonstration of each participant’s abilities and approach to the trumpet and jazz.’
Founded in 1984, the Madison Jazz Society remains a non-profit organization of volunteers committed to the sustainability of the Madison jazz community. Their mission is manifested in their efforts over the past three decades in organizing concerts celebrating America’s indigenous musical art form. The society also functions as an educational advocate and informational hub for jazz enthusiasts, providing grants to both the students of the craft and the local institutions providing their educational programs. The importance of celebrating and recognizing jazz as an original American art form is evident in former President Bush’s public order codifying into law, the month of April as jazz appreciation month. While jazz’s contributions to American culture, have achieved consensus, skepticisms remains over claims to the originator of the form. However, the role of African American’s in the creation of an American art form is undeniable.
Jazz is a truly democratic medium, rooted in ideals that enable it to exist in a state of flux, adapting to suit the needs of individuals, the group, and the audience. Freedom and equality are achieved through individual improvisation within the context of group collaboration, enabling diversity, as no two performances are exactly alike. The characteristics of jazz, in essence, parallel that of the melting pot society in which it emerged. Jazz is like the cultural mouthpiece to the historical consciousness of the collective American mind, diverse yet united in a rhetorical commitment to freedom and equality, individual improvisation within the sum of group expression, allowing for the inclusion of diversity into the on-going negotiation of its identity as a distinctive American art form. The role of jazz in defining American culture, highlights the role of the African American community in forging a platform for all to join in the experience and creation of a music for the people, by the people.
Like jazz itself, the importance of keeping jazz alive is a collaborative effort born out of the struggle to secure sufficient philanthropic support in opening the community to national artists. As a founding partner of the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, MJS works in tandem with fellow members to cultivate a vibrant, growing, and well-educated jazz community. Detailed information on joining this community and more information on MJS’s 30th anniversary celebration on March 29th, can be found at www.madisonjazz.com or by calling 608-850-5400.