Letter to the Editor: Celebrating National Jazz Workshop | Winchester Star

Listening to the outstanding performance of the Navy Commodores at the National Jazz Workshop at Shenandoah University on Monday evening provoked some thoughts about American culture, jazz and our great fortune to have this workshop for young jazz artists of all the country right here in our community. And also some thoughts on how it all relates to our current deep national funk.

Jazz, a brilliant fusion of African, Caribbean, European and, increasingly, wider sources, is unquestionably this country’s great contribution to world music. Congress, in a joint resolution of 1997, proclaimed that: ‘. . . it is the sense of Congress that jazz is hereby designated as a rare and valuable American national treasure to which we should devote our attention, support, and resources to ensure that it is preserved, understood, and enacted.

Jazz, quite simply, reflects this country at its best, capable – to paraphrase our original national motto – of creating “one of many”. (And an outstanding “one” at that.) Keep in mind Winchester native John Kirby – one of the leading jazz figures of the previous century – and his fellow jazz masters in these times when we despair for our future. . As long as the spirit embodied by jazz is alive in America, there is hope.

Charles Uphaus


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