The Jazz Project’s “Bellingham Youth Jazz Band” was created in 1997 by musician and educator, Mark Kelly, as a feeder program for the local high school jazz bands. The group is currently made up of 29 students ranging from 5th – 12th grade from 16 regional schools. The BYJB rehearses Wednesday night at the Bellingham Senior Activities Center, where space for the group is donated by Whatcom County Parks.
The BYJB performs about 40 free community concerts annually throughout Whatcom County in local parks, theaters, schools, nursing homes, fairs, dances, and jazz festivals. The BYJB learns and recreates the classic American Jazz repertoire of the 1920’s – 1970’s using a standard 18 piece big band format. In addition, selected students make up several smaller combos to perform at concerts, and individuals are featured on solos and vocal arrangements.
The Jazz Project charges tuition ($200 per trimester) and seeks private and public grants and donations from the community. Fund raising activities by parents and students supplement the annual budget. The Jazz Project (a 501(c)3 non-profit), pays for music, equipment, director salary, scholarships, lessons, clinicians, and all other expenses. All contributions to The Jazz Project are tax-deductible and can be made by clicking the donate now tab on the sidebar of this page. Contact Jud Sherwood for more information on how you can support the BYJB.
The BYJB plays regularly around Bellingham to a wide range of audiences. Mark Kelly was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award in 2000 and the San Juan Music Educator’s ‘Friend of Music’ award in 2008 for his work with these young musicians, and his band continues to create community connections across several generations with their concerts and swing dances. If you would like the BYJB to play for your event, or know someone who would like to audition for the band, please contact Mark Kelly at 360.676.5750. Contact the Jazz Project for scholarship information and applications @ 360.650.1066.
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