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 Monday, 30 November 2015
Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education Fundraiser Brunch, April 22nd PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Monday, 09 April 2012

Dakota ComboİAndrea Canter

A major support organization for jazz education in the Twin Cities, the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education (DFJE) will hold a “jazz brunch” benefit on Sunday, April 22nd, Noon – 3pm at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Supporting a wide range of activities to encourage greater awareness of jazz as well as inspiring and nurturing young jazz talents, DFJE is supported in large part by private donations. Special guests at this year’s fundraiser include phenomenal young saxophonist Grace Kelly, veteran jazzman Dave Karr, and DFJE’s premiere youth ensemble, the Dakota Combo. In addition to music, the fundraiser includes a live auction and a gourmet brunch from the Dakota’s new chef team of Derik Moran and Kristin Tyborski.


The Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education is a non-profit organization originated in 1997 by Dakota co-owner Lowell Pickett and benefactor, the late Jane Matteson. DFJE’s mission is “to support jazz education and jazz educators, and to encourage appreciation for jazz, through partnerships that bring jazz into our schools and communities.” Toward fulfilling this mission, DFJE provides opportunities in jazz education that include intensive jazz studies for selected students, public performance opportunities for student musicians, clinics, visiting jazz artists in schools, and scholarships for promising jazz students--activities that educate and support a new generation of jazz musicians and audiences.


Grace KellyİAndrea Canter
Current programs of DFJE include:

 Sponsorship (since fall 2006) of the Dakota Combo, an all-star ensemble of high school jazz students selected annually through audition, and a part of the MacPhail Center for Music jazz program. The Combo last year traveled to the Charles Mingus High School Band Festival and Competition in New York City; the current Combo has performed at the Jungle Theater and Artists Quarter, and will record a CD this spring.

Summer Jazz Camp Scholarships to 6-7 area jazz camps each year for middle school and high school students. Supported camps to date include Twin Cities Youth Jazz Camp, Twin Cities Jazz Workshop, Shell Lake Art Center; Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, Walker West Music Academy, MacPhail Center for Music Jazz Camp, and Roosevelt High School Summer Jazz.

 Sponsorship of Youth Stages at the annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival and Dakota StreetFest, providing opportunities each summer for 10-12 student ensembles to perform on a festival stage.

Jazz Artists in the Schools, currently funded in part through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC), to bring local and touring artists/clinicians into area schools to provide intensive instruction and inspiration. In 2011-2012, this program has provided specific jazz education projects in 11 area middle and high schools as well as two community school programs, including vocal coaching in jazz singing, rhythm section and full ensemble clinics, performance and presentation by area artists and the Dakota Combo, and support for three multi-school jazz “festivals.”

 Co-sponsorship, with the MacPhail Center for Music, of a Jazz Combo Festival for high school ensembles

 Sponsorship of the Jane Matteson Jazz Educator Award, given annually (at the benefit) to an exemplary Minnesota jazz educator


Dave KarrİAndrea Canter
For seven years, DFJE also partnered with the Schubert Club to sponsor an annual Jazz Piano Scholarship Competition for students in grades 9-12. This partnership will continue in the future but with a different focus.


At the April 22nd fundraiser, attendees will hear comments from Grace Kelly, who at 19 has not only completed her studies at the Berklee College of Music but has released 7 recordings, performed with legends Lee Konitz and Phil Woods, won numerous awards for composition, and was recently named a Resident Instructor at Berklee. In addition to performing a tune with the Dakota Combo, she will return to the Dakota stage in the evening for a two-set performance.


Also on the schedule for the benefit will be opening music from Dakota Combo alum, guitarist Geoff Lecrone, remarks from parent Mitchell Wittenberg, a set of music from the Dakota Combo, and another set of music featuring local legend saxophonist Dave Karr. There will be a live auction for some unique and exciting items and for specific DFJE projects, including sponsorship opportunities for the Youth Stages, Dakota Combo recording, and jazz camp scholarships. And the DFJE will present its Jane Matteson Jazz Educator Award to Keith Liuzzi, long-time jazz director at Minneapolis Southwest High School.


Tickets for the benefit ($75, $50 tax deductible) are available online. The Dakota is located at 1010 Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Reservations for Grace Kelly’s evening show are available at More information about the DFJE is available at Visit on Facebook!

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