The Music in the Schools assemblies are part of a larger vision of Redlands Bowl Performing Arts through its Eighty-Eight Keys for Youth Initiative, which encompasses a number of youth music outreach projects.
HIGHLAND >> Good music is subjective.
And on Monday, JazzReach wanted to spread that message through the music of Duke Ellington during three assemblies held at Beattie Middle School.
The Metta Quintet, the nonprofit’s resident ensemble, shared the life of Ellington and his 50-year career through renditions of some of the artist’s best known hits and a PowerPoint presentation in the school’s multi-purpose room.
Assemblies were opened to all Beattie students, some of whom were seen clapping along as the group performed a pre-selected set list, including “Daybreak Express” and “Jump for Joy.”
“Duke Ellington, basically, was known to have said, ‘There are two kinds of music: good or bad.’ What that means is that it is up to you to decide which is good and bad,” said Hans Schuman, founder and artistic director of JazzReach. “We play this music on the premise that we believe it is not only good but great, and we hope if we play it with enough conviction, power and soul, it will translate and (the students) will walk away feeling like Duke Ellington’s music was soulful, deep and resonate.”
JazzReach’s return to the Redlands Unified School District — they performed a similar show in town last year titled, “Yes, Indeed,” which celebrated the great American blues tradition — was made possible by the Redlands Bowl Performing Arts and a grant from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation through The Community Foundation, serving Inland Southern California, according to the RBPA. The stop here is part of the Quintet’s current four-week tour, which concludes in Tucson, Arizona in the coming days. They continue their local tour with stops at Clement Middle School Tuesday and Moore Middle School on Wednesday.
“We are so fortunate to have JazzReach performing a tribute to the great Duke Ellington at our area middle schools in honor of Black History Month,” said Beverly Noerr, executive director of the Redlands Bowl. “These musicians are some of the best in the country and the kids have been on the edge of their seats the entire time.”
Curtiss Allen Jr. agreed. Beattie’s instrumental music director and performing arts chair called the group’s visit a “phenomenal opportunity” for the school’s student population.
“For our kids to see the music of Duke Ellington played live may be the only opportunity they will get,” he said. “We are so appreciative to Valerie Peister (RBPA’s director of programming and community engagement) and the Redlands Bowl for reaching out and providing this opportunity to us.”
Established in 1994, JazzReach has dedicated itself “to the promotion, performance, creation and teaching of jazz music,” according to the nonprofit’s website. It was developed “in response to the overwhelming need for the supplementary arts programming,” it continued.
To learn more, go to www.jazzreach.org.
JazzReach Program Teaches History of the Blues to Clement Middle School Students, Redlands Daily Facts 1/21/16