This article is copyright 1995 by Antonio J. García and originally was published in the Illinois Unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators The Illinois Jazz Educator, November 1995. It is used by permission of the author and, as needed, the publication. Some text variations may occur between the print version and that below. All international rights remain reserved; it is not for further reproduction without written consent.


From the President

by Antonio J. García
IAJE-IL Unit President

Greetings! It is an honor to represent your interests in jazz and jazz education. In order to secure a sample input from the wide variety of members that populate this state, I have assembled a large group of officers and board members representing junior high, high school, community college, and university educators: vocal and instrumental, classroom and administrative, upstate and downstate—all men and women who have already made their mark in jazz education (and many in performance as well). I am pleased to serve in their company.

You will find their addresses, phone numbers, and (if available) e-mail addresses enclosed as a directory of persons willing to assist you if you need questions answered. Clip and save it—it will be printed in this issue only—and make use of it! Consider us your “jazz network.”

We will need all available persons to rotate staffing two-hour shifts at the IAJE booth at The Midwest Clinic in December: this is our biggest physical challenge of the year. If you’re planning to attend The Midwest, please let me know.

Here’s what’s up for the next couple of years!



The IAJE Conference is coming to Chicago in January 1997! To be held at the downtown Hyatt, this will be a great opportunity for Illinois students, faculty, artists, and the general public—much less the midwest area in general. It will also provide a massive influx of new members to the Unit. We share a good deal of responsibility for coordinating local volunteers (including students) who will assist in the operation of the Conference—something that will take some effort on our parts. I will let you know more details as the event approaches.



#1: Children’s Jazz

One of my primary interests is increasing the exposure of our youngest population to quality jazz music. Having been active on the (inter)national committees of IAJE for some eight years now—and reading and learning a lot via my gig with the Journal—I have observed how such ventures are usually SO SUCCESSFUL! For example, read about the last IAJE Conference’s “Mini-Conference for Children” in the September issue of the JEJ—or Sonny LaRosa’s “America’s Youngest Jazz Band,” profiled in the May ’94 issue of the JEJ. And many of you probably saw some of Wynton Marsalis’ excellent PBS specials last month, incorporating jazz so well into discussions of music in general.

The stories are endless about how kids can get turned on to jazz: imagine what a positive effect we’d see a few years later in our school music programs and community support! I would like to hear your suggestions as to what we can do as a Unit to introduce jazz to the young, and I propose the following to all directors—and to students with such initiative—as a goal:

If I can be of any help in brainstorming a program for such an outreach by you, do not hesitate to contact me. And once you’ve done one, I’d like for you to jot down a few notes and send it to me: it may prove helpful or inspirational to others considering the same.

Again and again we hear about developing jazz tastes in kids: we wish they’d only heard it when they were growing up. Well, here’s our chance! Consider it longer-term recruiting.


#2: Increased Newsletter Contact and Content

Dave Fodor has thoughtfully conserved funds towards attempting some future flexibility for the Unit. Distribution of the Newsletter will figure into these plans, as it’s the main way the Unit is visible to our members. Our goals include:

Let Jeff Waggoner or me know if you have further suggestions.


#3: Increased Visibility in IMEA’s The Illinois Music Educator

Past experience has shown that the IMEA is perfectly delighted to print jazz-oriented articles in its publication if we submit them! I’ve had two articles published in the IME recently. Any member of the Unit should consider what topic s/he might be able to contribute as a brief article that would be of interest to other educators in the state, possibly including:

I am willing, if you wish, to pre-discuss it, to proof or edit it before you submit it (especially if it’s on disk); but we should contribute to the statewide dialogue of educators not yet in IAJE! (Your bio statement that includes your IAJE-IL membership will assist us in return.)

Illinois has done very well on the international scale, with JEJ articles in the last two years by then-resident students Chris Collins, Al Hood, and Kristen McGee—plus educators Jim Warrick, Jeff Waggoner, Paul Bauer, Paul Berliner, now-resident Lee Bash, and myself. Now we need to help out at home.


#4: Continued Support of Illinois Jazz Festivals and IMEA Jazz

The international IAJE office and many state Units are rightly impressed with the degree of cooperation we have with IMEA and with area educational festivals. We intend to continue and improve upon our mutual work with IMEA for the benefit of our students; please make an effort to attend the annual IMEA/IAJE meeting on Saturday morning (February 3) of the IMEA Conference in Peoria. IAJE-IL Unit Secretary Mary Jo Papich is also incoming IMEA Vice-President for Jazz and will prove as invaluable to our statewide efforts as current IMEA Vice-President Jim Culbertson (now on the IAJE-IL Advisory Board) has been.


#5: Recruiting New Members

This may not perhaps seem as crucial to many this year, given that the 1997 Conference should bring us record enrollments. However, there are SO many gifted students, educators, and artists in Illinois who would benefit from joining IAJE—and who in turn would contribute talent and suggestions that would improve the Unit yet further. The following approaches come to mind:



I look forward to your input, your leadership, your assistance, your music, and your continued friendship. Together we can continue to improve the musical lives of those around us.

Best regards for your many endeavors,

Antonio J. Garcia, President

Illinois Unit, IAJE


_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Antonio J. García is a Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he directs the Jazz Orchestra I; instructs Applied Jazz Trombone, Small Jazz Ensemble, Music Industry, and various jazz courses; founded a B.A. Music Business Emphasis (for which he initially served as Coordinator); and directs the Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band. An alumnus of the Eastman School of Music and of Loyola University of the South, he has received commissions for jazz, symphonic, chamber, film, and solo works—instrumental and vocal—including grants from Meet The Composer, The Commission Project, The Thelonious Monk Institute, and regional arts councils. His music has aired internationally and has been performed by such artists as Sheila Jordan, Arturo Sandoval, Jim Pugh, Denis DiBlasio, James Moody, and Nick Brignola. Composition/arrangement honors include IAJE (jazz band), ASCAP (orchestral), and Billboard Magazine (pop songwriting). His works have been published by Kjos Music, Hal Leonard, Kendor Music, Doug Beach Music, ejazzlines, Walrus, UNC Jazz Press, Three-Two Music Publications, and his own, with five recorded on CDs by Rob Parton’s JazzTech Big Band (Sea Breeze and ROPA JAZZ). His scores for independent films have screened across the U.S. and in Italy, Macedonia, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, India, Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Israel, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

A Bach/Selmer trombone clinician, Mr. García serves as the jazz clinician for The Conn-Selmer Institute. He has freelanced as trombonist, bass trombonist, or pianist with over 70 nationally renowned artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, and Phil Collins—and has performed at the Montreux, Nice, North Sea, Pori (Finland), New Orleans, and Chicago Jazz Festivals. He has produced recordings or broadcasts of such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Jim Pugh, Dave Taylor, Susannah McCorkle, Sir Roland Hanna, and the JazzTech Big Band and is the bass trombonist on Phil Collins’ CD “A Hot Night in Paris” (Atlantic) and DVD “Phil Collins: Finally...The First Farewell Tour” (Warner Music). An avid scat-singer, he has performed vocally with jazz bands, jazz choirs, and computer-generated sounds. He is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). A New Orleans native, he also performed there with such local artists as Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Irma Thomas, and Al Hirt.

Mr. García is a Research Faculty member at The University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa) and the Associate Jazz Editor of the International Trombone Association Journal. He serves as a Network Expert (for Improvisation Materials) for the Jazz Education Network and has served as President’s Advisory Council member and Editorial Advisory Board member. His newest book, Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading (Meredith Music), explores avenues for creating structures that correspond to course objectives. His book Cutting the Changes: Jazz Improvisation via Key Centers (Kjos Music) offers musicians of all ages the opportunity to improvise over standard tunes using just their major scales. He is Co-Editor and Contributing Author of Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study (published by NAfME) and authored a chapter within The Jazzer’s Cookbook (published by Meredith Music). Within the International Association for Jazz Education he served as Editor of the Jazz Education Journal, President of IAJE-IL, International Co-Chair for Curriculum and for Vocal/Instrumental Integration, and Chicago Host Coordinator for the 1997 Conference. He served on the Illinois Coalition for Music Education coordinating committee, worked with the Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to develop standards for multi-cultural music education, and received a curricular grant from the Council for Basic Education. He has also served as Director of IMEA’s All-State Jazz Choir and Combo and of similar ensembles outside of Illinois. He is the recipient of the Illinois Music Educators Association’s 2001 Distinguished Service Award.

Regarding Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading, Darius Brubeck says, "How one grades turns out to be a contentious philosophical problem with a surprisingly wide spectrum of responses. García has produced a lucidly written, probing, analytical, and ultimately practical resource for professional jazz educators, replete with valuable ideas, advice, and copious references." Jamey Aebersold offers, "This book should be mandatory reading for all graduating music ed students." Janis Stockhouse states, "Groundbreaking. The comprehensive amount of material García has gathered from leaders in jazz education is impressive in itself. Plus, the veteran educator then presents his own synthesis of the material into a method of teaching and evaluating jazz improvisation that is fresh, practical, and inspiring!" And Dr. Ron McCurdy suggests, "This method will aid in the quality of teaching and learning of jazz improvisation worldwide."

About Cutting the Changes, saxophonist David Liebman states, “This book is perfect for the beginning to intermediate improviser who may be daunted by the multitude of chord changes found in most standard material. Here is a path through the technical chord-change jungle.” Says vocalist Sunny Wilkinson, “The concept is simple, the explanation detailed, the rewards immediate. It’s very singer-friendly.” Adds jazz-education legend Jamey Aebersold, “Tony’s wealth of jazz knowledge allows you to understand and apply his concepts without having to know a lot of theory and harmony. Cutting the Changes allows music educators to present jazz improvisation to many students who would normally be scared of trying.”

Of his jazz curricular work, Standard of Excellence states: “Antonio García has developed a series of Scope and Sequence of Instruction charts to provide a structure that will ensure academic integrity in jazz education.” Wynton Marsalis emphasizes: “Eight key categories meet the challenge of teaching what is historically an oral and aural tradition. All are important ingredients in the recipe.” The Chicago Tribune has highlighted García’s “splendid solos...virtuosity and musicianship...ingenious scoring...shrewd arrangements...exotic orchestral colors, witty riffs, and gloriously uninhibited splashes of dissonance...translucent textures and elegant voicing” and cited him as “a nationally noted jazz artist/ of the most prominent young music educators in the country.” Down Beat has recognized his “knowing solo work on trombone” and “first-class writing of special interest.” The Jazz Report has written about the “talented trombonist,” and Cadence noted his “hauntingly lovely” composing as well as CD production “recommended without any qualifications whatsoever.” Phil Collins has said simply, “He can be in my band whenever he wants.” García is also the subject of an extensive interview within Bonanza: Insights and Wisdom from Professional Jazz Trombonists (Advance Music), profiled along with such artists as Bill Watrous, Mike Davis, Bill Reichenbach, Wayne Andre, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Jim Pugh, and Ed Neumeister.

The Secretary of the Board of The Midwest Clinic, Mr. García has adjudicated festivals and presented clinics in Canada, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, and South Africa, including creativity workshops for Motorola, Inc.’s international management executives. The partnership he created between VCU Jazz and the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal merited the 2013 VCU Community Engagement Award for Research. He has served as adjudicator for the International Trombone Association’s Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, and Rath Jazz Trombone Scholarship competitions and the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition and has been asked to serve on Arts Midwest’s “Midwest Jazz Masters” panel and the Virginia Commission for the Arts “Artist Fellowship in Music Composition” panel. He has been repeatedly published in Down Beat; JAZZed; Jazz Improv; Music, Inc.; The International Musician; The Instrumentalist; and the journals of NAfME, IAJE, ITA, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Percussive Arts Society, Arts Midwest, Illinois Music Educators Association, and Illinois Association of School Boards. Previous to VCU, he served as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Combos at Northwestern University, where he taught jazz and integrated arts, was Jazz Coordinator for the National High School Music Institute, and for four years directed the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Formerly the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, he was selected by students and faculty there as the recipient of a 1992 “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” award and nominated as its candidate for 1992 CASE “U.S. Professor of the Year” (one of 434 nationwide). He was recipient of the VCU School of the Arts’ 2015 Faculty Award of Excellence for his teaching, research, and service. Visit his web site at <>.

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