Good Vibes for Music Education Week: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Hosts Jazz Concert featuring Joshua Redman

Joshua Redman (left) teamed up with the U.S. Army’s Jazz Ambassadors.

Hosted by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Music Education Week Jazz Academy Showcase Concert on June 18 was a swinging affair, featuring virtuoso saxophonist Joshua Redman and the Jazz Ambassadors, the U.S. Army Field Band’s premier touring jazz orchestra.

Abdul-Jabbar introduced the performers, regaling the audience his knowledge of jazz, from his father’s studies at The Juilliard School of music to recalling that Redman played a jazz musician in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a jazz fan.

“I don’t know if that was a jazz movie about gangsters or a gangster movie about jazz, but he was good,” Abdul-Jabbar observed of Redman.

Now 28, saxophonist Frank Catalano is a jazz veteran, having played  with jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and Tito Puente while still in high school. With his quartet Catalano performed his Billboard hit “Mighty Burner.”

Of his fellow musicians on stage, Catalano said: “None of us would be here without having had some really good music teachers.”

Sponsored by the MENC Society for Jazz Education, Sonare Winds, and the Berklee College of Music, “An Evening of Jazz” also featured

  • High-note trumpeter and composer Lew Soloff, formerly of Blood, Sweat and Tears
  • Flutist Anne Drummond, recently named a “Rising Star” by Downbeat magazine
  • Master Sergeant Marva J. Lewis, a vocalist who performed with the Jazz Ambassadors

The evening’s concert drew loud applause and whistles from a multi-generational audience of jazz fans.  Willie E. Hill Jr., director of University of Massachusetts-Amherst Fine Arts Center and an MENC past national president, introduced Abdul-Jabbar. Hill is chair of the MENC Society for Jazz Education.

Read more about the concert on the Army Web site:

Roz Fehr, June 24 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education