JEN in the Birthplace of Jazz

January 16, 2011

A stellar line-up of performers, a premier location, and a formidable board of directors… This is a trifecta for the relatively new JEN organization, which has launched a major conference in New Orleans for the jazz education community. Though there was some skepticism as to whether this highly ambitious undertaking could be pulled-off in such a short period of time, with the unrelenting drive and ambition of JEN’s founders, MaryJo Papich and Dr. Lou Fischer, along with the board of directors multifaceted backgrounds and talents, the impossible has become reality. A significant aspect to this accomplishment is that this also was done without any full-time staff and the bulk of the work involved being done by the volunteer board.

The wide-ranging passel of musicians, lecturers, and ensembles at the New Orleans JEN conference is completely first-rate: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lynn Arriale and Randy Brecker, Delfayo Marsalis, The Thelonius Monk Institute Jazz Ensemble, The Junior Mance Quintet, Dave Liebman with the Airman of Note, The University of North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band, and so many others. It’s not only about the professional groups; it’s about the numerous student ensembles who have been working diligently towards the exciting goal of performing at this conference.

As we all know, New Orleans has just gone through some of the most difficult years in its history, and one of primary reasons behind the decision to locate this conference in the Crescent City was to show support and recognize its importance as the birthplace of jazz. It’s not only about the central aspects of the show, but also the numerous outreach programs that are planned, as well as the JENerosity project to support Tipitina’s Foundation, a New Orleans non-profit organization that accepts used instruments to distribute to the schools (tipitinasfoundation.org).

The board of directors of the JEN organization is comprised of a formidable group of leaders with diverse backgrounds in education, performance, business, law, administration, and public relations. There is no doubt that we joust a bit over major decisions, but it is in our inherent diversity that pulls us together towards the right choices and prevents any “rubber stamping” simply for expediency. I am honored to share a seat on this board with such truly talented individuals and I believe that the future is looking very bright for JEN. So if you haven’t yet joined, we welcome the opportunity to have you as a valued member!

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