Monday, January 7, 2013

Jazz Education Network

I am writing this post as I fly home to Connecticut from the Jazz Education Network conference in Atlanta.  The conference theme was "Networking The Jazz Community... Local to Global", and networking I did.  Although I attended many performances and clinics, I decided beforehand that I wanted to emphasize relational building activities, rather than merely running from event to event.  From the moment I stepped into the hotel conference center (on Friday morning), I was fully immersed in conversations with educators, university administrators, publishers, authors, musicians, arrangers, festival promoters, old friends... and new ones too.  It was exhilarating to say the least.

I lead (and contributed to) a panel discussion about jazz blogging with George Colligan ( and David Valdez (  We titled the presentation, "Blogging With A Purpose ---- Educating and Building the Jazz Audience Base." In one hour we disseminated a lot of useful information and even I walked away having learned some new things.

From the scheduled conference offerings, the following stood out as being exceptional:

University Big Band Performances:

  • University of Northern Colorado Jazz Lab Band 1 - Dana Landry, director
  • University of Southern Mississippi Jazz Lab Band 1 - Larry Panella, director
  • University of Miami Frost Concert Jazz Band - Dante Luciani, director

Professional Performances:

The Mike Pope/Jim White/Stefan Karlsson Trio was truly fantastic.  Because the three musicians are longtime friends, they demonstrated an uncanny degree of comfort in their musical report/risk-taking together.  Technically impressive, super musical and fun.


  • Effective Tools for Composing/Arranging Using Finale.  Socrates Garcia, clinician.
Although I consider myself an experienced/expert user of the Finale music software notation program, I learned a number of valuable, time-saving shortcuts (which I will put into practice this week as I finish up a chart!)  This clinic was pure gold.
  • Get Your Groove On! Michael Mossman, clinician
Mike is a former teacher and ongoing mentor of mine.  I admire the confidence he justifiably exudes, stemming from his comprehensive knowledge and experience as an arranger and seasoned New York City musician.
  • Jazz Composition and Arranging in the Digital Age.  Michael Abene and Richard Sussman, clinicians
In addition to being great musicians, these guys know how to laugh and have a good time.  I appreciate that!
  • Teaching Jazz History as a Perceptual Learning Experience.  Mark Gridley, clinician
Of the jazz history texts I have perused, Mark Gridley's is my favorite.  It provides a solid overview without getting too bogged down in details.  I agree with his goal of teaching lifelong listening and jazz appreciation skills.  It was a kick to meet him.

The logo of the Jazz Education Network.  JEN.

Panel Discussions:

  • From the Classroom to the Bandstand:
Bob Mintzer, John Clayton, Don Braden and Javon Jackson shared tips pertaining to the assemblage of a successful performance career.

Although I'm feeling a degree of physical exhaustion, my two days at the JEN conference in Atlanta have recharged my creative batteries.  I have ideas abound, including a performance project to propose at next year's conference in Dallas.  Maybe I'll see you there!

... posing with one of my musical heroes, jazz arranger, Michael Abene.
... posing with the great jazz arranger, Michael Abene.


  1. Is it as big as IAJE conferences were?

    1. Almost.

      Maybe I chose better clinics to attend, but I found the emphasis to be more on education than "selling product". In this way it was better than what I experienced at IAJE.

  2. I was searching for info and images of the Southern Miss Jazz Station, a converted firestation that up until the recent tornado that hit Hattiesburg, Mississippi was the home of our program, and came across your blog. We are honored that you highlighted our performance at JEN to be one of the exceptional collegiate big bands. That performance was a big deal for us as the screening process as well as the politics of the previous organization - IAJE, never really opened the door for us. Our state unit was meager at best, and was never going to measure up to the standards they were putting forth because music education and the organizations and affiliations associated with it are rather out of synch in this state, and will not likely change in my lifetime. Thanks again for coming to hear us, and then making mention of us in your blog. Our design is to play music we can play well - to play musically, to enjoy the process of learning and sharing music, and thereby, connect with our audience the joy we have doing what we do. God bless and thank you. Please check out the Southern Miss Jazz Lab Bands page on Facebook for more of our recent dealings with the tornado.

    Larry Panella
    USM Jazz Studies


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