Honoring the memory of John Stites and his passion for jazz music

Honoring the memory of John Stites and his passion for jazz music

2024 – NEW YEAR - NEW AWARDS PROCESS!
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JSJAO Sponsors Sean Mason Trio on February 11

Posted November 9, 2023

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JSJAO and The Gilmore will present the Sean Mason Trio on Sunday, February 11 at 4:00 pm at the Wellspring Theater located in the Kalamazoo Epic Center. The concert is part of the 2023 Rising Star Jazz Series. Partnering with the Gilmore to present the Rising Star Jazz series has been one of the most rewarding parts of sharing the legacy of John Stites and his love for jazz with our community. Whether you are new to jazz or have listened to jazz icons for years, you will not want to miss hearing the Sean Mason Trio.

Unlike most jazz pianists, he was into sports as a kid and didn’t start playing piano until he was 13 and began playing “by ear”. He credits going to church every Sunday, seeing the Movie “Ray” and hours of concentrated effort teaching himself how to play with the development of his unique style and his eventual discovery by Branford Marsalis. Marsalis encouraged him to move to New York and attend Julliard where he began incorporating classical influences into his music. Sean Mason’s music takes elements from R and B, gospel, and Louis Armstrong’s classic New Orleans sound and infuses it all with his own unique perspective on how jazz can speak to the world we live in today.

During a recent interview on NPR, he talked about how his music has been influenced by his family’s love for music, his upbringing in the south with its emphasis on southern hospitality, and the importance of celebrating differing points of view. He spoke of the need to appreciate tradition but also write his own story and move the music forward. Honoring tradition, sharing our story, moving forward through music – John Stites would have called this a perfect holiday celebration! We hope you will join us on February 11. Tickets are available at this link.

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Recording with John was always a treat ... his gentle demeanor was deeply appreciated.

Mark Sahlgren

The John Stites Jazz Awards (JSJA) are funded by the John Stites Jazz Artist Organization.

The organization funds advanced studies for emerging and established professional jazz musicians, as well as personal development projects which enhance their career opportunities.