Lincoln-Way Central Music Department Chair chosen as All-State Jazz Band DirectorWednesday, February 1, 2017
On Friday, January 27, 2017 at the Peoria Civic Center, Lincoln-Way Central Music Department Chair Stacy Williams-Jackson directed 23 students from across Illinois in the All-State Jazz Band during the 2017 Illinois Music Education Conference.
While students were selected as a representation of the best musicians in each of the nine Illinois Music Education Association districts, the directors had an equally difficult vetting process.
All directors invited to conduct at the Illinois Music Education Conference (IMEC) are chosen by a committee based on educational excellence at both the state and national level. For the IMEC jazz ensembles, a special all-female jazz director panel was decided for the 2017 conference. Williams-Jackson was chosen along with nationally acclaimed bassist Marlene Rosenberg (Honors Combo), University of Michigan jazz director Ellen Rowe (Honors Jazz Band), Indiana University vocal jazz professor Ly Wilder (Honors Vocal Jazz Ensemble), and recently retired Belleville East vocal jazz director Kim Stamps (All-State Vocal Jazz Ensemble).
All of the directors were featured on the Opening Night Concert on January 25, 2017 with the Vern Spevak Big Band featuring American jazz trumpeter, Marvin Stamm.
The jazz selectees and Williams-Jackson met Thursday morning, and were given approximately twelve hours to develop a thirty minute program of music to be performed at the Friday concert.
For the performance, Williams-Jackson was able to choose meaningful pieces of music that were critical to her development as a performer and educator. Her choices included "Time After Time" arranged by Don Schamber and “When You're Smiling" arranged by Tom Kubis. According to Williams-Jackson, these two pieces were “essentially love letters to my Decatur MacArthur High School days under the direction of Jim Culbertson, one of the most iconic jazz educators of our lifetime. It was under his tutelage that I was chosen for the All-State Honors Jazz Band in 1993, and essentially the template from which I hope to provide an excellent experience for my own students.” Her final choice was "Haitian Fight Song" by Charles Mingus. “It is a great and gritty minor blues piece that features bass—my instrument—so of course I had to choose that,” she says.
In addition to Williams-Jackson’s selections, the All-State Jazz Band performed the world premiere of "Acronym Blues," written by world-renowned jazz composer Doug Beach and commissioned to honor the life of Cliff Kaminsky, another iconic music educator who passed away in 2015. “I had his son Josh rehearse with the band and talk about his dad,” said Williams-Jackson. “It was a very meaningful piece, and the All-State Band really felt honored to debut it.”
“Being asked to direct an All-State ensemble is one of the biggest honors an educator can receive in the state of Illinois, and it was with no small amount of pride and gratitude that I accepted this opportunity,” she says. “For me, directing this fantastic group of students at our state conference was coming full circle. It gave me an opportunity to acknowledge my roots and those music educators who have helped me on my personal journey, while giving back to this talented band all that has been given to me through music. It is what I endeavor to do every day at Lincoln-Way, and why I am so very grateful for all the support I have received from Lincoln-Way in helping me grow as a teacher over the last twenty years.”