Passing it on

Jazz teaching conference is all about reaching the next generation

Volume 113, No. 2February, 2013

Todd Bryant Weeks

Todd Weeks and Bob Cranshaw spread the word about the union’s jazz campaign. Photo: Ed Berger

Jazz education lives! I recently hopped on a plane to Atlanta, accompanied by preeminent jazz bassist Bob Cranshaw, to attend the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference. Our mission, as mandated by the Organizing Department and the Executive Board, was to promote Local 802 and our Justice for Jazz Artists campaign to the jazz education community.

The conference is the world’s largest annual gathering of jazz educators, students, exhibitors, musicians and clinicians. The Jazz Education Network is a new organization, founded in 2008, the same year that the International Association of Jazz Education shut down. The conference has grown considerably in recent years, from just a couple hundred attendees in 2010, to over 2,000 in 2012.

Bob Cranshaw with world-renowned composer, multi-instrumentlaist and educator David Baker, who is a supporter of the union’s Justice for Jazz Artists campaign. Photo: Alan C. Blue

Having toured with Sonny Rollins for over 50 years, Bob brought his world-class performance experience to the conference as well as his considerable gifts as an experienced educator. He is also a strong union advocate, a vocal member of Local 802, and was recently elected to the 802 Executive Board.

This year’s conference featured appearances and clinics by Justice for Jazz Artists endorsers and supporters, including Rufus Reid, Wycliffe Gordon and Dave Liebman.

In light of its focus on education and the large number of students and aspiring musicians in attendance, the conference presented a prime opportunity for Bob to inspire young performers and enlighten them about the challenges and joys of life as a professional musician. Bob and I also brought attendees up to date on the hard-fought victories and ongoing efforts of the Justice for Jazz Artists campaign.

During the three day event, we met with hundreds of musicians, disseminated pro-union information, and secured dozens of signatures on our campaign petition. To sign our petition yourself and see the latest updates in our campaign, check out

Jazz vocalist Shirley Crabbe. Photo: Alan C. Blue