A picture of three jazz musicians playing on a stage

Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 1:33 pm

Sauk Trail recently hosted a jazz concert that was organized by music teacher John Becker and funded by a grant from the Madison Jazz Society. 

The Greater Madison Jazz Consortium and Madison Jazz-Our Middleton Jazz Jam also partnered in funding and making this concert possible (as well as a second set of jazz music featuring MHS and other area student jazz musicians). 

The virtual concert was video recorded outside, on the back playground, and will be shared soon with Becker’s elementary music students. The students will be seeing, hearing, and participating at home, in experiencing many styles of jazz. 

The history of the music that African slaves brought with them to the Western Hemisphere is celebrated that led to jazz music and so many other musical styles.  The contributions of several iconic African American jazz musicians who helped create the art form are also featured. This included Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Mongo Santamaria, Mary Lou Williams, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, as well as children’s books about the musicians. 

Becker designed the concert so that students could also play along, sing, and participate at home, improvising with the professional musicians.  The performers were Joey Banks on drum set, Laurie Lang Croasdale on bass, Chris Wagoner on violin, Paul Hastil on piano, and John Becker on hand percussion and drum set. 

“I hope that this virtual jazz concert will inspire the students that I work with to be creative in improvising, as well as to explore the art form.  Especially during this pandemic, I felt that it was important to keep seeing and hearing music performed live, even if experienced virtually,” said Becker, who teaches all of the students at Sauk Trail, and three classrooms at Sunset Ridge.

Becker has previously been awarded grants from the Madison Jazz Society and is also a recipient of multiple grants from the MCPASD Education Foundation.

Visit the Greater Madison Jazz Consortium website or their Facebook page, the Madison Jazz Society website or Facebook page, or the Madison Jazz Jam website or Facebook page to learn more.