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JEN Now Accepting Nominations for Jazz Educator of the Year

Christian Wissmuller • News • September 2, 2021
The Jazz Education Network is pleased to welcome nominations for two prestigious awards.

Nominations must be received by 11:59pm EST on September 30, 2021.

John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award
Presented by Jazz Education Network & Berklee College of Music
to the selected elementary, middle, or high school jazz educator.

Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Jazz Educator of the Year Award
Presented by Jazz Education Network
to the selected collegiate jazz educator.

The John LaPorta
Jazz Educator of the Year Award
Presented by Jazz Education Network & Berklee College of Music to the selected elementary, middle, or high school jazz educator.
The award originated in memory of the jazz education pioneer John LaPorta, who spent more than 30 years at Berklee, becoming one of the college’s most respected and influential educators. Passionate, opinionated, garrulous, witty, uncompromising as an artist, and an inspiring teacher, LaPorta revolutionized jazz education.

His influence at Berklee played a pivotal role in the earliest stage of formalized American jazz education—shaping the unique Berklee curriculum and influencing the artistic lives of thousands of students. As Richard Vacca wrote in the Troy Street Observers honoring John LaPorta, he commented, “At Berklee, LaPorta created and directed the Instrumental Performance Department, which was Berklee’s ‘reach your potential’ program. Said another faculty member of LaPorta’s achievement: ‘John knew how to take a bunch of kids who had music in them and go forward with that. That was a breakthrough for the school. John was magnificent with lower-level kids. He could get music out of three stones and a corn cob.’”

LaPorta composed, arranged, performed, and recorded with such jazz greats as Kenny Clarke, Miles Davis, Dizzie Gillespie, Woody Herman, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, Herb Pomeroy, Lester Young, and many others. He also performed with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.

The Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
Jazz Educator of the Year Award
Presented by Jazz Education Network to the selected collegiate jazz educator.

This prestigious award is named after legendary jazz educator Ellis Marsalis, Jr., a New Orleans jazz pianist whose focus was on bebop and modern jazz. In the 1960s, he played with several notable modernist musicians, including saxophonist Harold Battiste and drummer Ed Blackwell, as well as with the Adderley brothers when they came through town. He employed his trad chops, accompanying trumpeter Al Hirt in the ’60s and ’70s and gigging regularly at his New Orleans club.

Marsalis earned his master’s degree in music education from Loyola University in 1974, and that same year became the first jazz teacher at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. It was then that his reputation began to spread more widely. Connick, Blanchard, and his own sons were among his students; countless others came through his classroom, now known as the Ellis Marsalis Jr. Jazz Studio.

In 1986, as his sons and other students became jazz phenomena, Marsalis quit New Orleans for a job at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. In 1989, he returned to New Orleans to found the jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans, where he remained until his retirement in 2001. You could also find him at a Friday night gig at the Frenchmen Street jazz club Snug Harbor—which became a 30-year residency that ended in December 2019.

NOMINATION CRITERIA
To be considered for the Jazz Educator of the Year Awards, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • A practicing music educator — currently advancing the artistic lives of students in the classroom
  • Minimum of 5 years teaching experience (jazz context)
  • John LaPorta Award – Minimum of 5 years teaching experience (jazz context; elementary, middle, or high school setting)
  • Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Award – Minimum of 5 years teaching experience (jazz context; collegiate-level setting)
  • Demonstration of student-centered engagement
  • Nominee represents the highest standards of jazz teaching, and results in the classroom have brought distinction to nominee’s institution and students
  • Nomination Deadline: September 30, 11:59 p.m. (EST)
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