Family and friends gathered at the home of Marge Wisniewski in Northville on Nov. 8 to celebrate Vincent York's Jazzistry's recent recognition as the recipient of the 2008 Arts Education Organization Guvvy Award.
The Guvvy is the nickname of the Governor's Award for Arts and Culture, presented each year in 10 categories by ArtServe Michigan. The award Jazzistry won is given to a Michigan educational organization or institution that has provided extraordinary student and educator support and advanced arts education in Michigan schools.
Vincent York's Jazzistry is a non-profit educational program that uses live presentations to teach children and adults the story of jazz music and its role in American history. Jazzistry expands how people view society, helps them cultivate a personal relationship with history, demonstrates the benefit and beauty of our multi-cultural heritage, and creates a whole new generation of jazz lovers.
The name Jazzistry is a combination of the words jazz, history and artistry.
Party guests enjoyed York's samplings from the Artist in Residence Visit component of the Jazzistry Educational Program featured in schools around Michigan.
"It was cold outside, but the atmosphere inside was warm and uplifting," said Wisniewski. "The stage was set and the mood was festive for this 'cocktail party with a cause.' Vincent was up close and personal with the audience who listened to him demonstrate examples from the eras covered in the Jazzistry Program.
He typically plays seven instruments to engage the audience in an interactive performance of songs. The crowd was as eclectic as the music, as people from all cultures and walks of life gathered to enjoy a taste of what Jazzistry is all about."
Jazzistry's musical journey spans 400 years. From work songs and ragtime, to spirituals and the blues, from New Orleans to Harlem; from bebop to hip hop, it's a history lesson that swings as it connects all kinds of American music and brings history to life, transforming auditoriums into audible time machines for students and adults. The Jazzistry six-piece band performed a sample of the Presentation component at the Chase Bar in Northville this summer to a packed audience in hopes of building bridges with Northville and its surrounding communities and school districts.
"While creating awareness for Jazzistry's wonderful program and facilitating its mission, funding is proving to be the greatest challenge because of the current economical climate in Michigan," said Wisnewski. She and her friends have taken up the cause and pledged to have more cocktail parties with a cause in their homes and turn the proceeds over to Jazzistry.
"Music is a universal language that can be used to transcend culture and race and unite people of all ages," said Wisnewski. "Everyone agreed it was a great way to start the holiday season."
Jazzistry has several projects on the horizon, including a possible fundraiser at the Tipping Point Theatre.
If you would like to find out more about how you can be involved with Jazzistry visit the Web site at www.jazzistry.org or call (734) 761-6024.