Jazz House Kids gets big show of support on 15th anniversary

Jazz House Kids


Among those onstage for the grand finale of the Jazz House Kids 15th Anniversary Gala at NJPAC in Newark were Andra Day, far left, Jazz House Kids founder Melissa Walker, far right, and Jazz House Kids artistic chair (and Walker’s husband) Christian McBride, second from right.

On Sept. 23, Andra Day sang “Rise Up” at the Global Citizen Festival at Central Park’s Great Lawn, a massive event that also featured Stevie Wonder, Green Day, The Chainsmokers and many others. And a little more than a month later, she did the same at the relatively intimate Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark, as part of Jazz House Kids’ 15th Anniversary Gala.

Featuring a concert and an auction, with a cocktail reception beforehand and a dinner afterwards, the Oct. 24 event raised nearly $500,000 in support of the Montclair organization’s mission to teach jazz, provide performing opportunities for young musicians, and supply instruments to area schools.

Joining Day in the concert’s lineup was an all-star cast, including singer-percussionist Sheila E., saxophonist David Sanborn, keyboardist Kenny Barron, organist Matthew Whitaker (a Jazz House Kids alumnus) and many other musicians who are currently in the program, or have graduated from it.

Sheila E. sang “The Glamorous Life” at Jazz House Kids’ 15th Anniversary Gala.

Bassist Christian McBride, Jazz House Kids’ artistic chair as well as the husband of JHK founder Melissa Walker, served as musical director, and actress Gina Gershon hosted. Jazz legends McCoy Tyner and Roy Haynes were given honorary awards. Haynes, 92, treated the audience to a bit of tap-dancing when he took the stage to accept his award, and was serenaded with an a cappella version of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” by McBride and others.

The evening was dominated, of course, by jazz, but Sheila E. treated the audience to her 1984 funk-pop hit, “The Glamorous Life” (and overturned one of her cymbal stands, theatrically, at the end of it). And the show ended with an uplifting,  marathon version of James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good),” with McBride, Walker, Day and Sheila E. alternating on lead vocals, and Sanborn, Barron, Whitaker and McBride taking instrumental solos. Check out a video of this wild performance, below.

On Nov. 9 and 10, timed to coincide with the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City (during which many schools will be closed), Jazz House Kids will offer a Junior Jazz Camp for students in grades K-3. For more on this and other Jazz House Kids offerings, visit jazzhousekids.org.

And McBride, who also serves as NJPAC’s jazz advisor, will be back there often between Nov. 4 and 12, for various events in the sixth annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival. For information, visit njpac.org.

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