Thank You for Supporting 2020 Benefit - Playing Through The Changes

Press Contact: Nancy Klein


REBROADCAST ON FRIDAY, June 26, 2020 @8:00 PM ET
on JAZZHOUSEKIDS.ORG, YouTube + Facebook
Special Live Opening Commentary from CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE and MELISSA WALKER

Free Benefit Concert Hosted by NBC’s Lester Holt,
Curated by Bassist Christian McBride and Produced by Founder Melissa Walker
Reached More Than 19,000 Online Viewers, Kicked Off the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Relief Fund

Juneteenth’s Event Featured Live Appearances + Rare Concert Footage of more than 20 Celebrated Artists including: Dianne Reeves, David Sanborn, Eddie Palmieri, Diana Krall, Ingrid Jensen, Wynton Marsalis, Andra Day, Chick Corea, Bill Charlap Trio, Ravi Coltrane, Dee Dee Bridgewater, José James, The Christian McBride Big Band featuring Melissa Walker, and the late Al Jarreau and George Duke
+ the debut of the 75-member JAZZ HOUSE Alumni Super Band

[June 25, 2020] Montclair, NJ — JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, one of the nation’s preeminent jazz education organizations dedicated to transforming young lives through music, hosted a two-hour star-studded online extravaganza, “Playing Through the Changes,” on Friday, June 19th. The uplifting benefit concert kicked off the JAZZ HOUSE Relief Fund created to address the organization’s urgent financial need in the wake of COVID-19 and alleviate the risk it poses to its programmatic future.  Close to 20,000 fans across the world watched online.

Award-winning journalist LESTER HOLT, anchor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” and “Dateline NBC,” as well as an avid musician and bass player himself, served as host with 6-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist and JAZZ HOUSE KiDS artistic chair CHRISTIAN McBRIDE curating the event.  Kicking off the concert was the debut of the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Super Band, a technical and musical marvel made up of 75 alumni who came together to support the HOUSE they used to call HOME.

The evening featured dozens of celebrated artists who have mentored and performed with our students over the years, including several appearing live from their homes — Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea, David Sanborn, Ingrid Jensen, Eddie Palmieri, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Diana Krall — and many more exceptional moments with musical greats in concert and conversation from the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS archives. The celebrated jazz artists came together for a dynamic show of support for an organization that has served more than 50,000 young people and presented student performances for over half a million music fans. The world-renowned organization and its students have received more than 100 national and regional awards, including top honors from the Jersey Arts People’s Choice Award three years in a row for the MONTCLAIR JAZZ FESTIVAL, produced by JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, and attended by more than 15,000 music fans each year.

The “Playing Through the Changes” Benefit Concert brought the essence of a remarkable organization and its memorable moments to life. CHRISTIAN McBRIDE explains, “To be mentored by and actually get to play with the jazz luminaries they have admired and tried to emulate in their own musicianship is life-changing for a student.” Some of the most touching moments included a stirring performance from Dianne Reeves singing from her home in Colorado, passionate remarks from Diana Krall who played with JAZZ HOUSE students at an event earlier in the year and spectacular segments showcasing young talent currently in training.

The benefit concert told the story of how young people come into the JAZZ HOUSE as early as seven years old and their lives are shaped on and off the bandstand through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship. With its extraordinary faculty, the JAZZ HOUSE sees its young people go to college, and these students come back to “play it forward” with younger generations.

According to MELISSA WALKER, founder & president of JAZZ HOUSE KiDS, it was extremely fitting that the opening and closing musical selection of the “Playing Through the Changes” Benefit Concert was the instrumental and vocal performance of  “On the Sunny Side of the Street” by the JAZZ HOUSE Alumni Band, under the direction of trumpeter, Nathan Eklund and arranged by Eklund, and veteran faculty members, Ed Palermo and Dylan Pramuk.


“I got a call from one of our alums early on in the pandemic who was back in his childhood bedroom, taking classes remotely from Juilliard, and missing the connections of his peers and gigs,” said Walker. “They wanted to give back to the JAZZ HOUSE that was such a big part of their lives and that was the impetus of
getting the alumni group together.”

Birsa Chatterjee, an alumni performer and tenor saxophonist now studying at The Juilliard School, feels like JAZZ HOUSE KiDS was a second family that gave him not just music instruction but true mentorship.  “A big part of my village growing up was the JAZZ HOUSE where many of my teachers were like parent figures to me,” he said.  “They guided me through so much — there is mentorship at every angle. The circle that is passing down this music to the next generation is bigger than all of us,” he said.

I had an opportunity to learn from incredible mentors and teachers, be inspired by older students and make lifelong friendships,” he said. “The circle that is passing down this music to the next generation is bigger than all of us.” “A big part of my village growing up was the JAZZ HOUSE family… many of the teachers were like parent figures for me, who guided me through so much…there is mentorship at every angle” he said. “The circle that is passing down this music to the next generation is bigger than all of us.”

Establishment of the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Relief Fund

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS is the brainchild of vocalist and educator Melissa Walker, who also produced the “Playing Through the Changes” Benefit Concert.  For 18 years, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS has delivered programming that engages and excites students, promotes harmony and collaboration, builds musicianship and provides a path to college and beyond. But in an instant, the world changed with the onset of COVID-19, and with it, the community that is helping to advance the personal journeys of some amazing young people. JAZZ HOUSE KiDS barely missed a beat as students, alumni, families, and faculty all turned to the organization.

In mid-March, the organization acted swiftly, bringing all instruction and extra jazz education classes online for hundreds of students, creating pre-recorded masterclasses for underserved in-school programs, launched a global summer camp offering that is reaching from New Jersey to London and Singapore, while providing direct aid and food to their most hard-hit families.

Addressing the social isolation caused by the nation-wide shelter in place, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS was one of the first organizations to launch weekly online arts programming, the “Hang @ Home” Friday Night Listening Series with McBride and Walker on Facebook Live. Each week they invite their friends — acclaimed jazz artists — to play highlights of their favorite artists, swap stories, and answer questions from the public.  It has become a must attend event drawing close to 160,000 viewers from over 50 countries and counting.

“As our students, faculty, families and community all turn to the JAZZ HOUSE, it was important to be there and it will be important to continue to be there and thriving on the other side of this,” said Walker. “The establishment of the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Relief fund will help in those efforts.”

JAZZ HOUSE KiDS thanks Manhattan Mechanical and TD Bank for its early support of the “Playing Through the Changes” Benefit Concert and the JAZZ HOUSE KiDS Relief Fund.  100% of the funds raised will support the extraordinary efforts of today at the JAZZ HOUSE through music education and performance programs, keeping students engaged, faculty working, families connected and ensuring that the organization can continue to serve as a source of learning, connection and inspiration for so many.

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