May 9, 2017

Jazz Heritage Orchestra plays for South Euclid Jazz Fest

For some, jazz is simply an antiquated assembly of raspy hymns and sporadic rhythms, appropriate for little more than a trip on the elevator.

For jazz aficionados like Dennis Reynolds, lead trumpet player and artistic director of Black Studies’ Jazz Heritage Orchestra, jazz is so much more.

Jazz is an exhilarating classical art which holds a unifying role in not only the African-American culture but also in America in general, Reynolds asserts.

“Jazz music is what freedom is all about,” Reynolds expressed. “Jazz is about coming together, the creative process, individually and collectively.”

This creative unity is something the Jazz Heritage Orchestra and several other music groups put into practice while performing for hundreds during the third-annual South Euclid Jazz Festival. It took place on Sept. 2 at the South Euclid Church of Christ.

Part of the Black Studies Program, the Jazz Heritage Orchestra is a nonprofit-professional collection of musicians and educators who provide educational seminars, concerts and workshops throughout the country.

The Jazz Heritage Orchestra was the opening act at the South Euclid Jazz Festival where Reynolds said unfortunate circumstances prevented the band from properly rehearsing but the band went on to play regardless.

“That’s what jazz music is,” he said. “It’s spontaneous, there’s no fear at all, we just played,”

The Festival was hosted by South Euclid Church of Christ and was part of the church’s ongoing attempt to raise money for The Children’s Defense Fund’s “Freedom Schools” program.

The “Freedom Schools” program is a summer and after-school reading program which exists to raise the reading levels of less fortunate children.

The program is something Rev. Courtney Clayton Jenkins from South Euclid Church of Christ said would be extremely beneficial to the community as she has witnessed the positive effects the “Freedom Schools” have on the educational retention of students.

“It’s not a faith based program, but we believe that if we can get 60 young people reading at grade level by the time summer is over, we will have done our job,” Clayton said.

Clayton explained how the South Euclid Church of Christ has already begun planning next year’s Jazz Fest. The plans in place are to raise money until the church can build a Freedom School.


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