Renowned Guitarist Kevin Eubanks and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Teach Talented
Los Angeles Public High Schools Music Students as Arts Programs Face Uncertain Future
Virtuoso guitarist and former Tonight Show bandleader Kevin Eubanks will work with a group of talented Los Angeles students to compose a song that the students will perform at a free concert on Sunday, June 3rd at 2:00 p.m. at the world famous Catalina Jazz Club, 6725 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA. Additionally, student ensembles from seven LAUSD schools will perform jazz standards, classics, and contemporary tunes that they have been working on throughout the year with instruction from the Institute’s jazz educators. The finale will feature Eubanks with the LAUSD All-City Jazz Ensemble, comprised of the best young jazz musicians across the District, under the direction of Dr. JB Dyas, the Institute’s Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development, and Tony White, LAUSD Beyond the Bell Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator. KJAZZ radio host LeRoy Downs will serve as emcee for the event. Eubanks is in his third year as the Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom program, which is supported in part by LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell Branch. Former Jazz in the Classroom students have gone on to receive music scholarships to prestigious colleges and universities, and to perform with GRAMMY Award-winning artists.
Eubanks’ public school visits come as LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell Branch faces possible elimination as part of the cuts in reaction to the State’s budget crisis. Beyond the Bell funds the Institute’s outreach programming as well as programs for elementary schools, gifted students and other arts experiences that serve students in 600 schools throughout the District. All of these programs would cease if the Beyond the Bell shuts its doors.
Eubanks has always been a strong advocate for arts education and is concerned about the future of the arts in LAUSD schools. “When they pull arts out of the schools, they’re pulling out a lot of other things with it, such as kids’ ability to communicate, and the encouragement to pursue humane efforts,” Eubanks said. “Young people need to be able to express themselves in ways that educate, uplift, and inspire self confidence. It’s important that everyone in the neighborhood gets to see that.”
Besides teaching the students about jazz, America’s uniquely indigenous art form, Eubanks will discuss the important American values jazz represents: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, and democracy. He will also lead the students through the creation of a piece of music that will be presented at the end of the class.
“The effort you put into studying and learning music can be transformed into any format you want, just as long as you focus, have confidence in yourself, learn how to study by yourself, and learn to avoid distractions,” Eubanks said. “Music helps you do all of these things; it’s a great tool to have as a human being.”
“The partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Thelonious Monk Institute, which is now in its 9th year, is an enormous asset to LA public schools,” said White. “The students not only learn from renowned artists like Kevin Eubanks, they learn from each other.” In so doing, the student musicians are teaching and learning from their peers not unlike virtually all great jazz players have done throughout the music’s 100-year history.
“And when you hear how great these young kids play,” added Thelonious Monk, Jr, the Institute’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees and son of legendary jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, “you know the future of our music is in good hands.”
“Please join me in not only helping but insisting that the arts remain in our schools as a vital source of nourishment for our young men and women,” said Eubanks. “By supporting them, you support so much more. Without that support when I was a kid, my life would have been a completely different story.”