May Columns

Plainsong: In the wake of the stunning mid-April news that the International Associated of Jazz Educators (IAJE) was filing for bankruptcy, Sarah M. Minette, current president of IAJE's Minnesota chapter, told our ace reporter, Dick Parker, April 22, "I strongly believe that the members of IAJE, Minnesota and nationwide, are committed to jazz education and many of us plan to continue to pursue an avenue to which we can promote jazz education, whether it is through a state music association such as MMEA (Minnesota Music Educators Association) or at the national level. I believe that too many good educators are involved to not at least continue to spread the wealth of jazz education.

"In the next few weeks, our Midwest (IAJE) chapters will be meeting as executive boards and will be trying to decide where we can go from here. It is unknown at present if the state chapters are considered independent of the national. However, we will be letting our members know of our decisions as soon as we reach them.

"As it stands right now, our chapter is planning on moving forward with our current commitments such as the Mid-Level Honors Jazz Bands as we are financially stable in that respect. With regards to the Shell Lake (Wisconsin) jazz camp, I don't believe that is related to IAJE, so I assume that is still going on. The Jazz Summit in Utah will be canceled, along with next year's (national) convention that was to have been held in Seattle."

Minette, the daughter of respected Wisconsin trad jazz musician Whitey Minette, has substantial jazz credits of her own. A graduate of UW-Eau Claire and an active member in the jazz department, she played saxophone in the acclaimed Jazz 1, directed two student jazz ensembles and has performed with Chris Botti, Christian McBride, Byron Stripling, Ingrid Jensen, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and Five by Design. She's a middle school teacher now and has directed 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands, as well as a before-school jazz band, a percussion ensemble, flute choir, and clarinet choir.

Incoming Minnesota IAJE president and highly regarded trumpeter Kelly Rossum also commented on the IAJE situation, telling Dick Parker, "Jazz education in Minnesota is as strong as it ever was, and in many ways much stronger than in recent years. Right now, I'm just waiting (along with everyone else) to see what transpires in the Kansas (headquarters of IAJE) courts." Rossum teaches at the MacPhail School of Music, Minneapolis.

John Zimmerman, who has served IAJE as the Midwest Division Coordinator responsible for the oversight of seven state chapters, told the RAG™ via e-mail, "Most state chapters are currently smack dab in the middle of their outreach program schedule. All of the chapters that I have been in contact with are planning to continue their mission to promote and support jazz education in their respective states. Their treasuries can support their current level of programming for at least a year or two. I believe some chapters will become independent state entities while others will wait for some for some type of umbrella organization to restructure under." (It's rumored that Mary Jo Papich, who was the president-elect of IAJE's executive board, is working on a proposal to launch a new umbrella organization.)

Zimmerman continued, "The current issue of concern is how the Kansas Bankruptcy Court is going to view chapter affiliation and their corresponding treasury. Some chapters are incorporated and others not, leaving much speculation as to the course of action the court will take. All chapters which are not incorporated have been encouraged to register now as 501c3 corporations."

Zimmerman, a long-time education activist and currently the Performing Arts Department Coordinator for Apple Valley High School in Minnesota, added, "Throughout my many years of service to IAJE, I have met hundreds of dedicated educators who are giving back to an art form that they love. Their talents, energy and expertise will continue to make a difference in jazz education today and tomorrow."

Certainly these three jazz educators belong to that dedicated group. The RAG will have more on IAJE in future issues.

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May 2008 issue | © 2008 The Mississippi Rag

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