The Jazz Legacy Project
Connecting Jazz and American Culture: Past, Present, and Future
What is the Jazz Legacy Project?
Why does Thelonious Monk play the piano like that? Why is John Coltrane's music so intense? Why is Billie Holiday's voice so unique?
Created in 2015 after an epiphany Justin Varnes had while teaching Jazz History at Georgia State University, the JLP has an ongoing residency at the Velvet Note jazz club in Atlanta, where they have been selling out their performances for 6 years and counting. Ditching a traditional textbook in favor of playing records and telling stories about the artists to college kids who knew little or nothing about jazz proved to be a big success. It turned out that performing the artist's music and telling their stories in between proved to be an even bigger success.
But it's more than just offering insight into what to listen for when listening to jazz, it's also woven into American history - as jazz itself is. Many movements in jazz are a direct result of cultural shifts in America, and connecting an artist's music to a time or an event in history can open up a new world when listening to it.
"It's a jazz concert and music appreciation class in one...oh, and they play their behinds off, too!" - Tamara Fuller, Velvet Note