Congratulations To The 2023 Cycle 1 JSJA Winners!
Posted August 8, 2023
The Board of the John Stites Jazz Artist Organization is pleased to announce the 2023 Cycle 1 John Stites Jazz Award winners. We hope these projects will inspire others to apply and make John’s goal of keeping jazz alive and available to all a reality.
- Steve Reed/Lake Effect Jazz Big Band – The Lake Effect Jazz Big Band is using the award to bring John Clayton, bass player/arranger/composer/ educator and clinician to Southwest Michigan to perform as their guest soloist/clinician. John is Diana Krall’s bass player, co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band and is a world renowned soloist. John’s performance with the LEJBB will be the headlining final event of the 6 th annual South Haven Jazz Festival in September. Each year this Festival is attracting more and more jazz lovers from all over Michigan and Indiana. An open rehearsal and masterclass with John are planned as part of the weekend.
- Edward Mallett/Tuba Bach, Inc – “Inspired by Jazz” is scheduled as the opening concert weekend of the 2023 Tuba Bach Festival in Big Rapids, Michigan. The concert will feature six commissioned “classical” compositions inspired by jazz standards. The Rodney Whitaker Sextet will perform side-by-side with classical duo Ed and Noah Mallett, alternating jazz performances with the new works inspired by those pieces. Audience members, live and virtual, will have the opportunity to hear great jazz performances, world premieres of new additions to the classical repertoire directly influenced by jazz, and commentary from the six commissioned composers, deepening their understanding of the music and their creative processes.
- Margaret Murphy-Webb/South Side Jazz Coalition – The South Side Jazz Coalition (SSJC) follows the model of tenor saxophone great Dr. Earle Lavon Freeman who hosted free jam sessions which featured an open stage to anyone who was interested in performing jazz. His platform also featured mentoring by elder musicians that gave birth to generations of Chicago professional jazz musicians and vocalists. The SSJC will host a series of free live jazz shows featuring student musicians, young professional, and established musicians in an effort to appeal to diverse intergenerational audiences across the city while showcasing the legacy of jazz music on the south side of Chicago.
- Elizabeth Start/Michigan Festival of Sacred Music – The Michigan Festival of Sacred Music will collaborate with the Bullock Series at Western Michigan University (WMU) to present Edmar Castaneda’s (harp) jazz quartet in a public concert on October 25, 2023. While the quartet is in town October 24-26, they will also conduct a workshop with WMU jazz students. This project will expand jazz audiences because the Sacred Music Festival offers a wide range of music, but is only able to present an occasional jazz concert. So many of the festival followers may be exposed to jazz for the first time.
- Alon Nechushtan/Astounding Stories – “Astounding Stories” is an original book of chamber-jazz compositions featuring Mr. Nechushtan on piano and many of his jazz peers. The works were inspired by his fascination with narratives based on chord changes (as Coltrane declared “the changes are the stories”) intertwined with his longtime affinity with Science-Fiction’s art of the short story as appeared in his favorite magazine “Astounding Science Fiction Stories”. The John Stites Jazz Award will help defray costs associated with the development, attending rehearsals, transportation, workshops, and masterclasses as well as gearing toward a performance of this work. Upon completion, the project will culminate in a tour that will take place in New Jersey and New York.
The applications were scored by an independent Review Committee composed of professional jazz musicians with national and international experience. The winning projects focused on expanding the audience for jazz, while celebrating the diverse national and international influences on the music and identifying opportunities to capitalize on the intergenerational and cross-cultural appeal of jazz.
JSJA has awarded over $230,000 in the last 2 years. Applicants who did not win are encouraged to revise and submit their applications for consideration during 2023 Award Cycle 2. Cycle 2 began on July 15. JSJA plans to award an additional $50,000 to another group of outstanding applicants in December 2023. Information on the Cycle 2 2023 award timeline is available on our website.
We continually revise the award process based on feedback from previous applicants and Review Committee members. We hope that you will review all guidelines before submitting your application. The FAQ page is also a good resource if you are not sure what to include when answering a question. If you have additional questions, please submit them by using the Contact form.
The Board of the JSJAO thanks all the applicants for their participation in the first 2023 award cycle and we look forward to receiving the Cycle 2 2023 submissions. We encourage anyone with an idea that supports professional exceptionalism in jazz music, expands public awareness and appreciation of jazz, or offers performance events or projects that bring jazz experiences to the community to apply.
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