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Jazz in the Schools ties into Black History Month

Two New York-based jazz musicians will present workshops on black spirituals and gospels, connecting the Jazz in the Schools program to Black History Month. Jazz in the Schools is an educational and outreach activity offered in partnership by the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) project and the Guelph Jazz Festival.

African-American recording artist Dean Bowman and Canadian-born, award-winning jazz pianist D.D. Jackson are the visiting musicians at this year’s event, which takes place February 8–10 and includes a concert for the public as well as interactive workshops with area students.

On February 10, they will participate in a discussion group with members of ICASP's University of Guelph reading group and the public, 10:30-noon in room 132 of the MacKinnon Building. Topics will include spirituality in music and the roots of that spirituality in the freedom struggles of African American culture.

Ajay Heble, ICASP project director and artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival, says the Festival has been thinking of featuring spirituals and gospel music during Black History Month for some time. “Given that both Jackson and Bowman’s musical background has been largely informed by black spirituals and gospels, their performance promises to be deeply moving and rousing.”

Jazz in the Schools begins Sunday, Feb. 8 with a public concert at 7 p.m. at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, featuring Bowman and Jackson. The workshops take place Feb. 9 and 10 in a local elementary school and with the Creative Music Ensemble at the University of Guelph and the Guelph Youth Jazz Ensemble. Participants will work directly with the musicians to combine the musical genres of improvisation, spirituals, and gospel.

Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis