September 17, 2012


The following initiatives will be conducted through a new collaboration among nearly all of Greater Madison’s jazz presenters (Madison Music Collective, Wisconsin Union Theater, Madison Jazz Society, Midwest Gypsy Swing Festival, and Surrounded by Reality), educators (UW School of Music, Madison Metropolitan School District, and Madison Jazz Jam), and supportive media outlets (Isthmus and WORT-FM), with additional support from the Jazz Institute of Chicago.  Working together, these partners will pursue four common goals aimed at further developing our local jazz scene:

  • Expanding and diversifying the local audience for jazz,
  • Deepening audience understanding and appreciation of the music,
  • Cultivating the next generation of jazz musicians and appreciators, and
  • Increasing the capacity of local jazz presenters to book higher-profile performing artists.


The partners’ efforts are supported by a $44,100 grant from the John and Carolyn Peterson Charitable Foundation as well as resources contributed by each partner.

Special Jazz Community Event at Full Compass 

On the occasion of the arrival of Professor Johannes Wallmann to revive the UW School of Music Jazz Studies program, the partners will stage a major public event in the auditorium at Full Compass (tentatively scheduled for late-October). This event will have three major components, all designed to lay a foundation for partnership-building between the Greater Madison jazz community and the UW School of Music.  First, Professor Wallmann will introduce himself to our local jazz community, and present his vision for the UW’s Jazz Studies program and for the program’s engagement with the local jazz community.  Second, the event will include a recognition program for the fine jazz educators that we already have in Greater Madison, from K-12 through college and beyond.  Lastly, the jazz community will showcase itself – to Professor Wallmann and other attendees – through performances by local musicians that represent the full range of jazz styles practiced here (early jazz, big band, modern, funky, Latin, string jazz/gypsy swing, vocal, and free/avant-garde), and in a booklet that presents our community’s jazz organizations, educational programs, and other jazz resources.  We anticipate a crowd of about 300 attendees.

Enhancing K-12 Jazz Education

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Fine Arts Office will host a Professional Development Day for K-12 teachers, delivered in partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).  This program is aimed at increasing the presence of jazz in general music classes while improving the quality of instruction in these classes as well as in school band programs.  Based on an initial JIC proposal (which received a very positive response in a May 2012 survey of MMSD music teachers), the program will likely include a series of workshops led by CPS music teachers, a review of the current array of JIC-CPS teacher professional development programs, and a culminating jam session in which Madison area teachers perform with the CPS teachers’ jazz ensemble.  This program is tentatively scheduled for April 2013, and we anticipate participation by roughly 40 music teachers.  (Depending on the ultimate response from MMSD teachers, teachers from neighboring school districts and private schools may also participate.)  As a capacity-building initiative, this program will positively impact the education of many thousands of students in the coming years.

This initiative also includes support for the 2nd annual Madison All-City High School Jazz Festival, scheduled for December 1, 2012.  Participants will include student jazz ensembles from all four of Madison’s large high schools and guest ensembles from one or more adjoining districts.  This will be an educational, rather than competitive, program that includes a mix of music instruction by outstanding professional clinicians, an expert guest presentation on jazz history, and culminating performances by the student ensembles.  Also, as they did at the 2011 Festival, students from the UW Jazz Orchestra (UWJO) will help conduct the sectional clinics, and the UWJO will perform at the Festival’s culminating evening concert.  This year’s Festival will also expand to include an educational component for middle school students.

Also under this initiative, the Madison Jazz Society (MJS) will expand its annual School Grants program, and help the project partners initiate a Madison Area Jazz Educator of the Year award.  The project partners will raise (or otherwise contribute) matching funds for this cash award and will also provide free tickets to their respective concerts to the award winner. 

Lastly, this K-12 education initiative includes sustaining support for the semi-monthly series of Madison Jazz Jam (MJJ) sessions, where amateur musicians develop their craft by performing with a house band of local professional jazz artists and receive instructional feedback from an outstanding local jazz educator, e.g., Dan Wallach from Edgewood College.  Each session’s first set is aimed at less experienced improvisers and typically attracts many high school students.

Jazz Presenters Concert Series Enhancement

Since the national economic recession, it has been a struggle for our local jazz presenters to attract sufficient donor/sponsor support to book prominent national touring artists.  For example, the Isthmus Jazz Festival had to cancel its ticketed headline concert and Jazz at Five was unable to book the kind of world-class performers that local audiences had come to expect.  The scene is starting rebound in 2012, as the new partnership between Madison Music Collective and the Wisconsin Union Theater enabled the Festival to book the great jazz vocalist Mary Stallings as its headliner, while Jazz at Five will be presenting celebrated saxophonist and Mingus alumnus Charles McPherson. 

Under this initiative, challenge grants will be provided to each of the local jazz presenting organizations named above on page 1, to help them expand their booking of nationally-recognized talent while challenging each to expand their current level of artist funding by finding new donors/sponsors and generating more support from the ones they already have. 

Greater Madison Jazz Consortium

The project partners believe that increasing collaboration among the key players in the jazz community – presenters, educators, media supporters, and perhaps funders – is an essential pathway to improving the quality and quantity of jazz programming and growing the sustainability of each of the partners.  As the example of the highly collaborative Mary Lou Williams Centennial Celebration demonstrated, working together around a common theme or interest can enable the community to stage compelling programs that lie beyond the capacity of any individual partner to deliver.  Working together, we can also create a climate (e.g., larger and more appreciative audiences for our programs, and a healthier bottom line) that enables each partner to more fully achieve its own distinctive mission, etc.

Under this initiative, the project partners will create a new organizational structure, the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, that will take collaboration in the jazz community to a much higher level.  During Fall 2012, the partners will establish a Consortium Steering Committee comprised of representatives from each participating organization.  Concurrently, the partners will secure the services of a part-time Project Coordinator to provide staff support to the Steering Committee and engage with each project partner to (a) track progress on their deliverables, (b) provide trouble-shooting help to the appropriate project partner on any unforeseen implementation problems, and (c) gather financial and outcome data for review by the Steering Committee, to inform in its ongoing planning.

During Winter-Spring 2013, the Steering Committee will retain a consultant to lead development of a 3-year strategic plan that identifies (a) the first wave of initiatives to be conducted by the Consortium and its members to strengthen the local jazz scene, (b) any additional resources needed to move these initiatives forward, and (c) prospective sources of the needed additional support.  Through the strategic planning process, the Consortium will tackle at least some of the following issues that have been simmering in the local jazz scene for some time.  These include strategies for:

  • creating more performance opportunities for local jazz musicians, so we retain the ones we have and attract others to move here,
  • better attracting target audiences, e.g., younger people, people of color, fans of other musical genres,
  • collaborative scheduling, to minimize conflicting concert dates and fill stylistic and other gaps in the year’s jazz schedule,
  • sharing information about established top-flight (and up-and-coming) jazz musicians interested in performing in our community,
  • further boosting local popular understanding and appreciation of jazz,
  • collaborative fundraising, possibly with a broader array of music/performing arts organizations, e.g., adapting Milwaukee’s United Performing Arts Fund model,
  • using advanced technology, e.g., web portal and social media, to make it easier for fans to learn about upcoming programs, and increasing cross marketing of each presenting organization’s programs.


* The plan for Professional Development Day grew out of a March 2012 field trip by leaders of Madison Jazz Jam (MJJ) in which they explored first-hand the JIC’s partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), described on the JIC website at www.jazzinchicago.org/educates.  MJJ reps met with the JIC Teacher Advisory Council attended a rehearsal of the teachers’ big band (Noteworthy Jazz Ensemble), met with JIC’s Director of Education and Executive Director, and attended the monthly JIC Jazz Links Jam Session where CPS students (elementary through high school) perform with some of Chicago’s best professional jazz musicians.  The precise Professional Development Day program will be planned jointly by Madison school district and JIC staff, in close consultation with their respective teacher groups.  Based on the initial proposal from JIC, topics will likely include things like “Teaching Jazz in Elementary Schools,” “Writing Great Charts That Your Kids Can Play … Well,” “Beginning Improvisation for the General Music Class,” “Training the Young Rhythm Section,” “Jazz History in a Nutshell,” and “Jazz Combo Rehearsal Techniques.”






Responsible Partner(s)

Special Jazz Community Event at Full Compass

Introducing and welcoming Johannes Wallmann, incoming UW-Madison Professor of Jazz Studies

UW School of Music

Program honoring Greater Madison’s jazz educators

Madison Jazz Society and Madison school district Fine Arts Office

Showcase performances by Greater Madison jazz musicians/bands

Madison Music Collective

Booklet presenting Greater Madison’s jazz community

Madison Music Collective, with the UW School of Music

Event promotion

UW School of Music, with all the remaining project partners

K-12 Jazz Education

Teacher Professional Development Day, in partnership with the Jazz Institute of Chicago

Madison school district Fine Arts Office

All-City High School Jazz Festival

Madison school district Fine Arts Office, with UW School of Music

Expansion of School Grants Program

Madison Jazz Society

Greater Madison “Jazz Education Award of Merit”

Madison Jazz Society

Performance opportunities for secondary school students with professional jazz musicians

Madison Jazz Jam

Raising the Bar for Jazz Presenters

Matching grants to Greater Madison’s jazz presenters to book higher-profile concert artists

Wisconsin Union Theater/Madison Music Collective partnership, Madison Jazz Society, Midwest Gypsy Swing Festival, Surrounded by Reality

Greater Madison Jazz Consortium

Establish Consortium Steering Committee

Howard Landsman

Hire contractor to coordinate project implementation

Madison Jazz Society

Develop 3-year strategic plan

Consortium Steering Committee, with contracted consultant

Secure funding to continue Project Coordinator for year 2 and beyond

Consortium Steering Committee


The Brink Lounge