By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living
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April 30 is International Jazz Day, a day to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of jazz music and its role in promoting peace, dialogue, and understanding among people from all walks of life. Jazz music has been around for over a century and has become a genre of music loved by people all around the world. Fortunately, locals don’t have to go far to hear great live jazz music.
The Manassas Jazz Society (MJS) is a new organization dedicated to promoting the awareness and culture of different sub-genres of jazz. It was founded by Theo Scott, a retired Army Band Musician who noticed a lack of professional musicians performing in the Manassas area. To address this, Scott started the organization with a plan to conduct “performance workshops” where participants would learn rehearsal techniques, performance styles, score writing, and performing in small ensembles.
Jazz Appreciation Month
One important initiative that the MJS participates in is Jazz Appreciation Month, which is celebrated in April. According to Scott, setting aside a month to recognize the contributions of jazz artists and the importance of music is impactful. The MJS has received funding from the Prince William County Arts Council and has requests for performance workshops planned for this year. Currently, the MJS is performing in the Manassas City area for Jazz Appreciation Month as part of the Manassas 150th Birthday Celebration.
Scott cites Bob Berg, Joe Farrell, Kirk Whalum, and Grover Washington Jr. as major influences on his playing style. His appreciation for jazz has been shaped by many musicians across different styles, from traditional straight-ahead to jazz fusion and contemporary jazz.
In terms of the local jazz scene, Scott has noticed a decline in the presence of jazz in the Manassas community. However, he sees more local venues supporting jazz performances. For young musicians interested in pursuing a career in jazz, Scott advises being “absolutely sure it is your passion in life” and to seek out organizations like the MJS for music clinic demonstrations.
The Future for Jazz
Looking to the future, Scott sees jazz music evolving to become more progressive and complex as the skill levels of upcoming musicians continue to raise the bar. To ensure that the art form continues to thrive and evolve, Scott believes that all musicians need to be heard, and jazz enthusiasts and musicians should seek out venues and audiences to have their voices heard. He also recommends supporting and participating in organizations like the Manassas Jazz Society to further promote jazz appreciation and awareness.
If you’re interested in experiencing the MJS’s performances for yourself, they have a few events lined up for Jazz Appreciation Month. On April 15th, they will be hosting Jazz Concert Presentations at Potomac Library at 2 pm. On April 18th, they will be hosting “Jazz Night” at Haven for the Arts at 9108 Church Street in Manassas, where audiences can expect a night of beautiful music.
Overall, the Manassas Jazz Society is an organization that is working hard to promote and preserve the culture of jazz in the Manassas community. Their dedication to the art form is inspiring, and their initiatives to educate and entertain audiences are making a real impact. If you’re a jazz enthusiast or a young musician looking to build your skills and network, the Manassas Jazz Society is definitely an organization worth checking out.
Rebecca Barnes is the Publisher of Prince William Living magazine and Brides & Weddings magazine. She is a lifelong resident of Prince William County and a volunteer with OWL VFD. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, being a Grandma, visiting Walt Disney World, blogging at Sightseeing Sidekick, reading, and sleeping.