Unified Jazz Ensemble: Celebrating America’s Jazz Heritage

Fresh. Dynamic. Sounds & Rhythms of Latin Jazz gets enthusiastic reviews for Unified Jazz’s fascinating introduction to the “gotta move” rhythms of samba, bossa nova or African-inspired clave, and contributions of artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz. Learning About Jazz ties together rhythm, math, music and memory, with an emphasis on improvisation and teamwork. This uniquely American music program features the diverse styles of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and more. The group’s new American Dixieland Heritage program takes audiences on a tour of Dixieland sounds – featuring pulsating rhythms and stellar solos. Dixieland music is exuberant, familiar and steeped in history, with influences from African and European styles.

Mike Noonan (trombone/vibraphone), Dominic Smith (drums) and John Pineda (bass) have appeared on radio and TV, and were artists-in-residence for the NEA Rural Residency Arts Initiative.

The music was outstanding… the students learned a lot about jazz, a genre of music that they likely had little previous knowledge of. We were very pleased with their performance.

– PTSA President, Woodbridge Elementary School (BCPS)

Unified Jazz was great. The audience loved the program!

– Adult Services Manager, Beatley Central Library, Alexandria Library

The children and teachers enjoyed the music and left the auditorium snapping their fingers and talking about improvising.

– Assemblies Coordinator, Key School

Unified Jazz was a wonderful engaging experience for the students. They were professional and worked well with the audience.

– Cultural Arts Manager, City of Richmond Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities

The artists were great. They provided clear and comprehensive explanations of their instruments, the “language” of music (harmony, melody, rhythm) and gave examples of several types of music. I would highly recommend this group to any school.

– Jefferson Middle School

The Unified Jazz Ensemble is a dynamic group of musicians presenting jazz in an engaging and enlightening manner to a wide spectrum of audiences. With five recordings and years of experience to their credit, Mike Noonan (trombone and vibraphone), Dominic Smith (drums), and John Pineda (bass) have appeared on national radio and television, and at jazz festivals, universities, and clubs worldwide.  Now based in Annapolis, the group spent four years as the flagship ensemble for the highly successful National Endowment for the Arts “Rural Residency Arts Initiative,” composing, performing, and teaching jazz music to both adults and children. They are the recipients of a Chamber Music of America grant for, used to bring residencies and performances to underserved communities in Maryland.

Mike Noonan is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland. He holds degrees in jazz studies and composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston (B.Mus. Magna Cum Laude) and the University of North Texas (M.M.). Mike is a multi-instrumentalist, performing on vibraphone, marimba, piano, and trombone. An experienced composer and arranger, his works have been featured on multiple UJE recordings.  He provides clinics in jazz composition and improvisation, and has served as faculty at Gettysburg College and Luther College.  Mike is an Innovative Percussion mallet artist, and a two-time recipient of Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards.  He has shared the stage with jazz greats Charles McPherson, Mundell Lowe, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers, and Buster Williams.

John Pineda has been a professional bassist since his high school days in LaMarque, Texas. After studying at San Jacinto College in Houston, and the University of North Texas, he moved north-east to the jazz mecca of Boston. His solid, in-the-pocket style of playing gained him a far-reaching reputation. Within two years he recorded three C.D.’s, including one with legendary drummer Joe Hunt. Influenced by virtuosi Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro and Dave Holland, Mr. Pineda was a welcome addition to the Unified Jazz Ensemble in 1994. His sensitivity combined with a distinctive earthy groove make him a sought-after player wherever he goes. Recording artists Eddie Daniels and Steve Davis are among the many who have enlisted his talents. John’s bass is maintained by Shank’s Strings.

Frank Russo is a highly skilled and passionate musician, recording artist, and educator who resides in Maryland and teaches at Towson University. He is also an artist/educator for Sabian Cymbals, Baltimore Drums and The Vic Firth Education. Raised in the NYC area, Frank completed a distinguished career with the prestigious Naval Academy Band where he performed in and led several dynamic ensembles. An incredibly adaptable musician, Frank has performed in jazz festivals in the U.S., Canada, Asia, and Europe, and with noted musicians including Conrad Herwig, Mundell Lowe, Bobby Shew, and many others. Frank is a Summit Records Recording Artist whose recordings have gained national recognition and praise from Downbeat, Jazztimes and Modern Drummer along with others.

Tim Stanley hails from Belleville, IL. Watching his father play with bands of almost every genre in the St. Louis area were his earliest musical experiences. He began his own studies on trumpet at the age of nine. After graduating from high school in 1993, he attended Eastern Illinois University. At EIU he studied trumpet with Dr. W. Parker Melvin and improvisation with acclaimed pianist Henry Butler. Since March 2004, he has been a member of the United States Navy “Commodores” Jazz Ensemble. Tim is also a member of the Grammy winning Latin Jazz ensemble, Afro Bop Alliance. Tim has performed and/or recorded with Chris Potter, Jerry Bergonzi, Eddie Daniels, Dave Samuels, Arturo O’Farrill and many others.

Artist’s website: Unified Jazz Ensemble

Learning About Jazz

This program consists of music from the different jazz eras (Dixieland, Swing, Be-Bop, Contemporary) as well as songs that are familiar to younger audiences.  Volunteers will be called upon to play certain instruments with the guidance of the ensemble members.  The performance includes a demonstration and explanation of each instrument and how they function together.  The Unified Jazz Ensemble offers student audiences the experience of hearing a live jazz band and connecting the rich history of this music with its main contributors.

Sounds and Rhythms of Latin Jazz

A fascinating introduction to classic Latin jazz songs with a focus on the “gotta move” rhythms and unique sounds ofsamba and bossa nova. The contributions of composers and musicians such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie in the history of Latin jazz are also explored.  Audience participation is a highlight of the program as students learn about African-inspired claverhythms and how to create them.

Trio: Single $550/Back-to-Back $700

The American Dixieland Heritage

Dixieland, or early jazz, is an American musical form rooted in the marching band tradition with influence from African and European musical styles that had developed in the United States for hundreds of years. By the early 1900s, Dixieland was starting to develop from ragtime, another American musical form, in the cities of New Orleans, Baltimore and New York as well as others. Traditionally, the instrumentation in a Dixieland band consists of 1-3 horns (usually a trumpet, trombone, clarinet or sax), bass or tuba, piano or banjo and drums. While one of the horns plays a melody, the remaining horn(s) improvise an accompanying part that supports the melody. The rest of the band, which is called the rhythm section, provides a driving or pulsating beat, or rhythmic accompaniment, that energizes the music and helps create the buoyant and exciting feel of Dixieland. Throughout the song, each musician takes a turn in the spotlight by taking an improvised solo while the other members play supporting parts that keep the music driving forward. Drawing on hymns and early popular songs, the repertoire of a Dixieland band is familiar and historically interesting as well. Four musicians play trumpet, trombone, bass and drums in the Dixieland line-up.

Quartet: Single $700/Back-to-Back $850

Fees are for daytime school programs in Maryland, Washington, DC and Northern Virginia only.

Evening, weekend, workshop and non-school fees differ – please contact us.

Additional travel fees apply.

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