1987, the United States Congress declared jazz "a rare and
national treasure." Yet, the art form remains on the fringe
of the national consciousness and is woefully underfunded in many
school music programs.
to this shortfall, a New York City-based program, JazzReach, was
established in 1994 by musician H. Benjamin Schuman and aspires
to provide communities with cultural supplements to introduce young
people to jazz and foster a greater appreciation and awareness of
director of jazz studies at The University of Southern Miss, is
bringing the nationally recognized program to Hattiesburg, along
with its new resident jazz ensemble, Metta Quintet. In addition
to a three-day residency for educational activities, the ensemble
will give a public main stage concert at 7:30 p.m. April 1 in Bennett
makes this group so unique is that they are great players who have
devoted themselves to the mission of educating students," Panella
said. "Many of the students they perform for don't play an
instrument, but are reached through creative multimedia presentations
that involve narrations, video, and live performance."
explained that most jazz education efforts are focused on students
who are learning to play an instrument. JazzReach not only reaches
those students, but their mission is larger and more encompassing.
"They (JazzReach) are out to build audiences as well. There
is nothing like this organization that I know of to promote the
vitality of jazz music and to claim its rightful place in American
and world culture," Panella said.
some of New York City's fastest rising jazz artists, Metta Quintet
reflects JazzReach's ever-broadening artistic scope and aspirations
to serve wider, more diverse audiences. The ensemble gives the program
a vehicle for the promotion, creation and performance of all new
works that aim to challenge convention and explore the jazz experience.
people have never heard of these musicians before, but if you've
ever listened to the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Lincoln Center
Jazz Orchestra, or any of the other great groups based in New York
City, you've probably heard them playing in those groups,"
Panella said of the group.
at Southern Miss will include matinee performances for area school
children, workshops for Southern Miss jazz students, and two evening
performances. The April 1 concert at will be the first performance.
General admission is $6 and free for Southern Miss students, faculty
call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or (800)
844-8425, or order online at www.usm.edu/tickets.
concert will be held at 7 p.m. April 2 at the Advanced Education
Center Auditorium on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long
Beach as part of the Ambassador Series. For information, call (228)