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Charity Spotlight: Jazz St. Louis - Ladue News: Charities & Non-Profits

Charity Spotlight: Jazz St. Louis

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Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 12:00 pm

Jazz St. Louis

Mission: Jazz St. Louis is a nonprofit organization that focuses on leading the community in advancing the uniquely American art of jazz through live performance, education and outreach.

The organization is mainly known for its Jazz at the Bistro series that presents internationally acclaimed jazz artists in an intimate club atmosphere--a setting which Wynton Marsalis included in his list of top 10 jazz clubs for USA Today. Those world-renowned artists, along with local jazz educators, also participate in Jazz St. Louis’ education and outreach programs, visiting schools throughout the metropolitan area for workshops, master classes, coach and performances.

History: In the ’90s, the late Barbara Rose began a ‘Just Jazz’ program at the Hotel Majestic in downtown St. Louis. The program presented both national and international jazz musicians in an intimate setting. In 1995, Rose moved the series to Grand Center in 1995, calling it Jazz at the Bistro. The organization was incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1998, and renamed Jazz St. Louis to better reflect the full scope of its efforts. However, the concert series still retains the Jazz at the Bistro name.

Community Impact: The Jazz at the Bistro and Jazz St. Louis at the Touhill Performing Arts Center programs entertain more than 22,000 people each year. In addition, the organization’s education and outreach efforts, which include JazzU, Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, Youth Concerts and Emerson Jazz in the Schools, reach 11,000 students annually. Of those who participate in the Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, 83 percent go on to major in music, with many students awarded full scholarships to prestigious music schools.

What/When/Where:

HotSax, CoolNight! Gala, Feb. 22, 2013 at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis

Jazz St. Louis’ annual gala, co-chaired by Josephine Weil and Arnold Donald, features national jazz entertainment, dinner and live and silent auctions. The event sponsors include Richard and Josephine Weil, Staenberg Family Foundation and World Wide Technology. Individual tickets and various table sponsorships are available. 

How to Get Involved: Beyond being a patron or donor, Jazz St. Louis is always in need of volunteers for assistance during Jazz at the Bistro events or with artist transportation during education outreach. The organization also has a Young Friends group for jazz lovers younger than 50, while budding musicians in middle and high school can audition for the JazzU program. For more information, call 289-4030 or visit jazzstl.org.

On the Board: Pam Trapp

When Pam Trapp’s college-aged sons were younger, she and her husband had them choose a musical instrument to learn. They both chose guitar; and over the years, Trapp has gotten a chance to see the effect music education can have. “It gave them so much confidence and allowed them to meet other kids who they never would have otherwise,” she says. “Whenever things were going badly, they had their music.”

While Trapp didn’t know much about jazz in particular, her appreciation of the value of music and music education encouraged her involvement with Jazz St. Louis when she was recruited to the board seven years ago. She is now in her third year as president, and has learned much more about the music form along the way. “Jazz is the most collaborative music there is,” she explains. “If you go to Jazz at the Bistro, it’s such a diverse audience. It brings people together from all walks of live and it’s truly community-building.”

Since joining Jazz St. Louis’ board, Trapp has seen the organization expand its programming by working to bring more artists to St. Louis for Jazz at the Bistro and bigger performances at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. During her term as president, she is most proud of her role in getting Jazz St. Louis to set its sights higher and solicit greater support from the community, including a new relationship with Wells Fargo Advisors, the presenting sponsor for the 2012-2013 Jazz at the Bistro season. “We were this little arts organization that didn’t really have the confidence that those types of companies would be interested in us, and now we’re in a whole different place,” says Trapp, who also is on the board of trustees for the Saint Louis Art Museum and involved with the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, The Woman’s Exchange and Friends of St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

While Trapp is planning to step down from president in June, she is enthusiastic about the path Jazz St. Louis is on and where it can lead. “Our real goal is to raise the profile of jazz in the community, and therefore, raise the profile of St. Louis as a center for jazz in the Midwest.”

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