Jazz House Kids Turns 15! Star-Studded Concert + Gala, October 24 at NJPAC

Jazz House Kids, Montclair’s nationally recognized arts organization with a mission to transform young lives through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship, is celebrating its 15th anniversary in style with a star-studded gala concert and dinner at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, October 24, 2017.

The evening will feature rising singer-songwriter and 2016 GRAMMY nominee Andra Day, six-time GRAMMY-winning sax legend David Sanborn, GRAMMY-nominated “Queen of Percussion” Sheila E., NEA Jazz Master and nine-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist Kenny Barron, and virtuoso bassist, composer and bandleader Christian McBride. McBride, artistic chair of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, serves as the evening’s musical director.

Hosted by actor Gina Gershon, musical highlights include the debut of the Jazz House Alumni Big Band, a group of talented JAZZ HOUSE KiDS graduates who have continued honing their musicianship through college and beyond. JAZZ HOUSE KiDS’ mission will come to life as current students hit the stage: keyboardist Matthew Whitaker, a recent winner on “Showtime at the Apollo;” Jazz House Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles; and the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Music Club from the John F. Kennedy School in Newark all will perform.

The evening will feature special tributes to two jazz luminary honorees: legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes and visionary jazz keyboardist McCoy Tyner. The JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Community Champion award will be presented to Montclair residents Janet Shapiro and Phillip Bryd for their longstanding support of the organization’s Give an Instrument program. Two annual student awards also will be announced: the James Moody Jazz Scholarship for New Jersey and the RS Berkeley Musician of Distinction Award.

Tickets to the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Turns 15 celebration can be purchased with a package that includes a pre-concert cocktail reception at 5:30pm hosted by the 15th Anniversary Jazz Orchestra Circle, and a post-concert dinner party with a live auction in NJPAC’s dazzling lobby. For more information, visit www.jazzhousekids.org or call 973-744-2273. Individual, concert-only tickets are available through NJPAC.


JAZZ HOUSE KiDS: Swinging Doors Open for 15 Years

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS returns to its roots in Newark with its stylish, all-star celebration on October 24. The building blocks for the nonprofit organization were formed in the Brick City 15 years ago, against the backdrop of NJPAC and with the help of two key organizations, Prudential and WBGO. According to Melissa Walker, President & Founder of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, “It is especially gratifying to come full circle and celebrate turning 15 and a shared mission with New Jersey’s preeminent Jazz House, NJPAC.” A jazz vocalist, Walker was asked in 2002 by WBGO to conduct a one-time workshop for a group of students and their parents from Newark Public Schools to introduce them to jazz music. “We strapped on imaginary tool belts together and built a ‘jazz house’ – the roof beams and walls raised by adding musicians and instruments one by one,” said Walker. “As a jazz vocalist, the music infused my heart and soul, and the concept of a rich gathering place of musical talent and shared promise resonated with me. A real Jazz House was born.”

Today, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS is dedicated to closing the gap in the arts by giving students an “artistic edge” and helping students cultivate the talent, discipline, skills and principles they need to play, sing, and appreciate America’s original musical art form. The four pillars of the organization’s work – music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship – foster tomorrow’s community leaders and global citizens.

Walker and her husband, Christian McBride, are seeing the legacy of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS’ work through its alumni, many of whom are taking their places as the rising new generation of jazz musicians and engaged citizens. “We are proud that 100% of our students at the Jazz House graduate from high school and go on to college,” Walker said.

Jazz House alumni currently attend or have graduated from top schools including the Berklee College of Music, Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers and The Juilliard School. For the many students who do not major in music, it is often their advanced training at the Jazz House that makes them so attractive to prospective colleges. Many students have earned significant merit scholarships – more than $1.5 million since 2014.

Each year, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS works with thousands of students in the schools, at its Jazz House facility in Montclair, and in the community. The organization provides access to music education with more than 1,000 hours of annual classroom instruction in underserved school districts, and offers 20 instrumental and vocal jazz classes at the Jazz House for ages two through adult. JAZZ HOUSE KiDS also places instruments in the hands of young people who want to play but can’t afford instruments.

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS brings music into the community through 80 student performances each year. The family-friendly, “no tickets required” Montclair Jazz Festival is produced each August by JAZZ HOUSE KiDS. New Jersey’s largest, free jazz festival, it attracts 10,000+ people from New Jersey and beyond. Each year, the organization reaches 25,000 people through its events, performances and programming.

“The success of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS lies with the countless people who have contributed and committed to our dream,” said Walker. “It’s an ambitious and obtainable dream: to level the playing field for young people with little access to high caliber arts training; provide a safe harbor that sees diversity and inclusion, which we consider our greatest strength; and transform lives by helping students gain what we call the ‘artistic edge’ through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship. We know that through this commitment, we are poised to continue to grow and flourish.”


For gala tickets + more information, visit www.jazzhousekids.org or call 973-744-2273. Individual, concert-only tickets are available through NJPAC. 100% of proceeds to support JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Music + Education mission.