Feb 25, 2010

Ready for SMACKDOWN?

Tonight's the last night of preparations for two Columbus dance teams in preparation for the big Midwest swing dance team competition, Dayton Swing SMACKDOWN! It all goes down this Saturday, February 27, 2010!

The Ohio State University Swing Dance Club as well as central Ohio non-profit SwingColumbus will BOTH be sending teams to compete against six other teams from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, and other Midwestern cities. The competition is looking to be more fierce than ever. Videos have been leaked online of some of the routines and they're looking pretty clever!

The Dayton Swing SMACKDOWN is an annual one day event. Local and regional instructors will teach two tracks of swing dance workshops during the day. In the evening, teams and individual competitions are interspersed with social dancing.

Team SwingColumbus has taken this competition quite seriously from the very beginning, as is clearly demonstrated in our first routine. You'll notice the slow motion fight sequence, spanking, and words spelled out across the butts of the ladies. We are nothing if not a classy, traditional group of Juilliard* trained dancers.

*One of us used to work for Juilliard, but most of us don't even know where it is. We had a gig last year where we were introduced as 'Juilliard trained dancers' so you can take their word for it!

Last year we pulled off a pretty frickin' sweet routine (if I don't say so myself) to win again. Here's video from all six teams who competed in 2009 (playlist will go through automatically):

This year we're really excited that OSU is joining in on the competition! We had a preview night last week and they did one hell of a clever job on their routine!

Columbus is ready to represent!

I'll post videos of the competition as soon as they become available. You can still join us in Miamisburg - there are $5 spectator passes available! www.daytonswingsmackdown.com

Feb 24, 2010

The Columbus Jazz Orchestra wants to School You


Columbus, OH – This week, the Jazz Arts Group’s Jazz in Schools program welcomes 4,839 Columbus City School students for sold out performances of All That Jazz. Designed for grades 4-6, All That Jazz is a curriculum-based program featuring the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, led by trombonist Jim Masters, in a live performance of standard jazz repertoire at the historic Southern Theatre in downtown Columbus.

Performances are scheduled on the following dates/times:

· Thursday, February 25 - 10:30 am and 12 noon

· Friday, February 26 - 10:30 am and 12 noon

· Monday, March 1 - 10:30 am and 12 noon

· Tuesday, March 2 - 10:30 am and 12 noon

All That Jazz offers youngsters from all backgrounds the opportunity to hear the powerful sound of America’s big bands. Students discover jazz, its origin and development throughout American history, through a curriculum developed by central Ohio’s premier children’s jazz educator, Becky Ogden. Each student receives his/her own book to prepare them for the performance.

Lessons include: Improvisation, Big Band Instruments, 12-Bar Blues, Jazz Time Line, Jazz Vocabulary, Jazz Geography, 32-Bar Song Form, Musicians Biographies and much more.

While participating in the concert, students will use their knowledge from the materials to interact and sing along with the CJO during the performance. During this interactive Columbus Jazz Orchestra concert, students will demonstrate their knowledge of a 12-bar blues, sing “Route 66” and experience the excitement of the band.

“I can’t decide whether I’m more touched by the creativity and progress made by the students, the curious involvement of the teachers or the passionate interaction of the musicians,” states Director of Jazz in Schools Judy Shafer. “Jazz in Schools crafts win-win-win programs.”

All That Jazz is presented by the Jazz Arts Group’s Jazz in Schools program with ongoing support from Chase Bank. How cool is this program? By the way, for all you jazz fans who aren't lucky enough to get to go on a class field trip, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra has a show honoring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, tonight through Sunday, at the Southern Theatre! Check it out! www.jazzartsgroup.org

Feb 11, 2010

Skipping school for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra

There was a great article recently in ThisWeek about the Columbus Jazz Orchestra's educational outreach programs. Numerous schools in central Ohio take field trips to CJO concerts, and these aren't the kind of concerts where you sit quietly with your butt in the seat...

Resources are provided through the "All that Jazz" program for teachers to use in the classroom ahead of time. Then on concert day they empty the schools and send everyone downtown for a special concert where the CJO teaches the kids about each instrument and each section of the band, the blues song structure (as you can tell from the picture), and jazz history.

Here are a couple of snippets from the article (published Jan 20, 2010):

All 650 students from Hilliard Tharp Sixth Grade School will take a field trip to the Southern Theatre at noon Friday for an exclusive one-hour concert by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

"We've done this annually for at least the last 4-5 years," said Kent Hansher, music teacher at Tharp. "Before it, we have a two-week jazz unit we go over with the students."


"This is an experience to hear a sound that these kids will never hear and to understand the background," Shafer said. "They don't just come here on a field trip to hear a concert of an hour of jazz, they actually participate in it. They're into it, they get it.

"As a result of these concerts, the youth in our audience has grown. The number of young people coming in the past 5 years has increased. Next month, we're doing 88 Columbus City schools and 4,400 kids are coming through. We've had one administrator say to us, 'We left one secretary in the building and brought everybody else.' "

The rest of the article can be found here.

I think jazz is for many educators an intimidating subject to teach, so I'm glad the CJO is there to help pass on the tradition of a little AABA and some improv and show just how FUN jazz is. Maybe some of those students will grow up to be jazz lovers, musicians, or even better... dancers! (selfish me!)

If you'd like to support Columbus' Jazz Arts Group and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, please check out all the ways to donate your time or your money (or your company's money!). Or hey, attend a concert and tell everyone you know how great it was! Student rush tickets are available at the door before a show (if it isn't sold out) for only $15 for 18 yrs or older, $10 for students under 18. Pretty sweet deal.

Jazz Arts Group features Louis Armstrong in February

There is some really great programming coming from the Jazz Arts Group in February! In honor of Black History Month, JAG is featuring the music and history of Louis Armstrong. Lectures, classes, and performances abound!

Louis Armstrong’s
Hot Fives & Hot Sevens Revisited

February 19 + 20, 2010 8:00PM Lincoln Theatre, Columbus
Byron Stripling – trumpet
Allan Vache – clarinet
Wycliffe Gordon – trombone
Mark Flugge – piano
Donn Vappie – banjo/guitar
Robert Breithaupt – drums
Tony Zilincik – tuba
Larry Cook – bass

Show Description:

The Jazz Arts Group of Columbus will present the music of Louis Armstrong’s famous Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings through a series of concerts and educational activities in February to coincide with Black History Month and the rebirth of the Lincoln Theatre. The music of the Hot Five and the Hot Seven is considered by most critics to be among the finest recordings in jazz history. The Hot Fives began in 1925 and the instrumentation included trumpet, clarinet, trombone, piano and guitar/banjo with the addition of drums and tuba in 1927 to make the Hot Sevens. “Louis Armstrong provided jazz with its quantum leap forward – his Hot Five and Hot Seven group recordings were the culmination of all he had accomplished in music to that point,” cites All About Jazz.

Here's the complete list of JAG programming themed around Louis Armstrong:

  • 2/18- KEYNOTE ADDRESS – Louis Armstrong: American Icon with John E. Hasse
  • 2/19- WORKSHOP/LECTURE - Louis Armstrong Solo Improvisation with Mark C. Gridley
  • 2/20- WORKSHOP/LECTURE – The Banjo and its Influence on American Music
  • 2/19 and 2/20- CONCERT- The Louis Armstrong Hot Fives/Hot Sevens Revisited

  • For tickets, class registration, and more info go to the Jazz Arts Group website


    The Smithsonian has educational materials on their website to honor the jazz master as well- great stuff even if you aren't in 4th grade!

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