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Six Midwestern Ensembles Receive Jazz Roads Funding

A person with medium dark skin tone and curly brown hair sitting at a music stand and holding a trumpet.
Sam Thousand.

Today, South Arts announced the Winter 2024 Jazz Road Artists—16 artists and ensembles receiving funding through the Jazz Road Tours grantmaking program.. Among these artists are six ensembles based in the Midwest.

Jazz Road Tours grants support jazz musicians with awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 to tighten the pay gap faced by artists when compared to their touring expenses. Beginning with the current application cycle, South Arts has increased the eligible expenses to also support childcare costs, in addition to personnel, travel, and lodging needs when spending time on the road.

“Jazz Road was designed to be responsive to artists’ needs,” said Drew Tucker, South Arts’ Director of Jazz. “We are constantly exploring new ways to bring resources in support of their work. There are so many excellent artists out there who want to connect with audiences, but are faced with juggling expenses related to caring for young families at home. We hope that this change to our program can help more artists, especially those caring for children, advance their careers.”

The Winter 2024 artist cohort represents the full breadth of contemporary jazz, from 20th Century Brazilian popular music to the intersections of choro, samba, prog rock, and neo soul. Each selected artist submitted an application and work samples, which were reviewed and selected by a panel of experts across the genre’s field. Based on the artistic excellence and merit of the proposed tour, the artists were chosen to receive support for their performances between April and September 2024.

Individual tours will begin as early as April and continue through September 2024, spanning cities across the U.S. like Washington, DC; Boston, MA; Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Wichita, KS; Miami, FL; Twin Lake, MI; Philadelphia, PA; Memphis, TN; Durham, NC; and Indianapolis, IN.

A core component of South Arts’ national Jazz Road initiative, Jazz Road Tours is coordinated in partnership with five fellow regional arts organizations: Arts Midwest, Mid America Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Alliance, New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Western States Arts Federation. Jazz Road is funded by the Doris Duke Foundation with additional support from the Mellon Foundation.

Since launching in 2018, Jazz Road has provided more than 280 artists with more than $3M in funding to share their work on a national scale and advance the field through Jazz Road Tours and Jazz Road Creative Residencies grants.

Apply for Jazz Road Tours

Applications for Jazz Road Tours are being accepted through 2026 with multiple deadlines per year. The next deadline for applications is March 1, 2024. Learn more about the Jazz Road, view previous artists, and learn about funding opportunities on the South Arts website.

Learn More

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Meet the Awardees

Three people playing a saxophone, trumpet, and upright bass.
JAS Quintet

JAS Quintet
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

JAS Quintet is one of South Dakota’s premier jazz ensembles. Formed in 2012 and based in Sioux Falls, the ensemble continues to perform concert and festival dates throughout the region. JAS features the classic jazz quintet instrumentation of trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass, and drums. With two original albums and one collaboration recording, their repertoire is a diverse mix of old and new, featuring many original compositions and arrangements by band members. . Concerts include favorites from Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and contemporary artists. You are sure to hear many familiar tunes during a JAS concert, along with a few new jazz classics. The members of the JAS Quintet are recognized as some of the region’s finest jazz musicians and educators. Touring extensively throughout South Dakota as a part of the South Dakota Arts Council’s Touring Artist program, the JAS Quintet has established a reputation as one of the top jazz ensembles in the region. Please visit JASQUINTET.COM to learn more about us!

A person of dark skin tone sitting at a music stand and holding a trumpet.
Sam Thousand

Sam Thousand and the Soul Vortex
Chicago, IL

SAM THOUSAND & SOUL VORTEX brings a sophistication to the stage that engages & uplifts. Their show features original hits as well as unique takes on familiar grooves that are soulful, jazzy, & cool. The make up of the band’s experience includes 100+ of years of studies in classical, jazz, funk, gospel, and blues, and all musicians have played with or supported national/international talents of today. Complete with a set of brothers, this tight-knit band is like family and holds many years of history coming up together in life and in music.

‘The Soul Vortex’ has been a complete group since 2017. They cut their teeth at a historic venue/speakeasy in Chicago called The California Clipper, where they held a monthly residency that guaranteed a lively crowd and high vibes. Riding a tidal wave of momentum, the band recorded a live album in Dec’19, but its release was severely halted by the pandemic.

In the summer of 2023, ‘The Soul Vortex’ released its debut album, recorded LIVE at The Promontory in Hyde Park, Chicago. The album was pressed to vinyl, and is exclusively available for purchase at Dorian’s record shop through 2023 and comes with access to their feature-length documentary.

‘The Soul Vortex’ frequents Chicago venues such as Dorian’s & Untitled Supper Club, has brought the vibe to many cultural events, and has partnered with various corporations such as lululemon, Volkwagen, American Institute of Architects, & Apple.

A person of light skin wearing a striped button down, gray sweater vest, and red tie; smiling and holding a trumpet.
Anthony Stanco

Anthony Stanco Quintet
Lansing, MI

Anthony Stanco is a trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and educator from Southeast Michigan.

A product of Detroit’s rich musical heritage, Stanco spent his early years studying under local heroes such as Marcus Belgrave and Rodney Whitaker. He enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music to continue his education with brass pedagogue Laurie Frink and transferred to Michigan State University to finish his undergraduate and master’s degree. While completing his education, he won the International Trumpet Guild’s 2013 Jazz Improvisation Competition.

Stanco leads The Crucial Elements, a nationally-recognized 5-piece ensemble who have served multiple tours with the US State Department’s “American Music Abroad” program. This is made possible through a partnership between American Voices and the US government’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. They’ve represented the United States in more than a dozen different countries around the world and have performed at leading international venues including the Java Jazz Festival, Cairo Jazz Club, and the Windhoek Jazz Festival. Stanco’s band consistently receive rave reviews about their engaging live performances and equally captivating record titled “The Crucial Elements.” He continues to have an active recording career and has released his second record titled “You Know The Feeling” on the Detroit Music Factory label and will release his third titled “Stanco’s Time” on Cellar Live in 2024.

It has been important for Stanco to develop a significant amount of credibility as a composer and arranger. He has penned many of his own compositions including a five movement suite, select tracks on his records, a commissioned big band work for The Ohio State University’s 40th anniversary of their jazz festival, as well as a studio orchestra arrangement celebrating the life of jazz legend Charlie Parker. As someone who benefited early on from passionate mentors, it’s only natural that Stanco would be drawn to become an educator himself. He has been a guest artist at the collegiate and high school level, and has adjudicated multiple jazz festivals in the midwest. Stanco joined The Ohio State University faculty in 2015 and became the Director of Jazz Studies at Broward College in 2019. He also serves as trumpet faculty at Brevard Jazz Institute.

A person singing into a microphone on stage, backed by several musicians playing various instruments.
Metropolitan Jazz Octet

Metropolitan Jazz Octet
Chicago, IL

Metropolitan Jazz Octet (MJO) is the contemporary reawakening of a jazz group that originated in the 1950’s and has a rich history and legacy in traditional and modern jazz.

MJO’s arrangements and performances blend a big band sound with the elegance of a small ensemble, creating a ‘chamber jazz’ experience that offers something new for the modern jazz audience.

MJO performed at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival (2021) and were voted Best Jazz Album by the Chicago Tribune (2019). They’ve played to sold-out audiences at the Chicago Jazz Festival, The Green Mill, Studio 5, Hey Nonny, the Jazz Showcase and received critical acclaim from Jazz Times, Downbeat and Chicago Jazz Magazine.

They are thrilled to collaborate with Chicago’s treasured jazz vocalist, Paul Marinaro in the Origin Records release “The Bowie Project,” a compilation of David Bowie’s song legacies reimagined for voice and jazz octet.

MJO’s approach honors Bowie’s lyrics, melodic and harmonic complexity while also allowing a variety of improvisational and jazz styles to shine through. Using David Bowie’s anthology with Marinaro’s vocal interpretations and melodic style, MJO has created a timely and novel-sounding jazz album.

People adore Bowie’s music and this project resonates with a wide jazz audience. “The Bowie Project” has created deep, meaningful interest; and the timing of this release is right to plan multiple appearances.

Three people smiling and posing in front of a wall.
Batuquê Trio

Batuquê Trio
Bloomington, IN

Batuquê Trio came together out of a shared passion for Afro-Latin music and jazz. The trio blends a myriad of Latin jazz styles, from the folkloric roots of Cuban and Brazilian music to contemporary trends in Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Caribbean jazz. The term batuquê, refers to Afro-Brazilian polyrhythmic drumming and dance. In 2015, they released their debut album, “Transparency,” which gives listeners an exciting take on familiar tunes and showcases original compositions that are steeped in groove. Batuquê Trio has presented Latin jazz clinics and performances at festivals and universities throughout the U.S. They’ve appeared at the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference and PASIC, as well as the University of Texas El Paso, Abilene Christian University, University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Day of Rhythm, North Carolina Central University, Indiana University, Coastal Carolina University, the Cape Fear Jazz Society’s Jazz at the CAM series, and the Bloomington Jazz Festival. Recently signed to Patois Records, the trio’s second album will be released in 2024.

A person of light skin tone wearing a blue shirt and reclining on a red couch.

Chicago, IL

The Mamey band is a project founded by Julián Pujols Quall in 2023 to showcase and honor traditional Dominican music. In July of 2023 Mamey toured Belgium playing for the Dominican and Spanish Embassies of Belgium as well as in the venerable club L’Archiduc, where each member of the band contributed original pieces based on Dominico-Haitian styles. Upon Julián moving back to Chicago after college, Mamey reformed thanks to the collaboration with Haitian-American bassist Micah Collier. Mamey played at the Jazz Showcase in August, the Dominican American Midwest Association in October, and will be featured in the World Music Wednesday series at the Old Town School of Folk Music in January.

The study of Dominican music lead the band to be interested in playing not only the popular styles, like merengue and bachata, but styles that are less known like Bamboula, Sarandunga de Bani, Salve, and Gaga, as well as styles that are very popular but not played in a live small ensemble context like Kompa and Dembow. With classical, jazz, and experimental/free influences, the pieces are able to morph into many different scenarios and draw from many different influences. “Catabalsie” is a great example of that, taking progressions from Liszt’s Piano Sonata while at the same time being inspired by the gospel jazz harmonies and melodies of Baltimore trumpeter Brandon Woody all put to a Dominican arrangement and rhythmic structure.

In deciding the musical purpose of the band the name Mamey immediately came to mind. Mamey is a fruit tree indigenous to the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean and it evokes the tenacity of humans and the complicated historic conditions that forge identity. Beautiful traditions, cultural fruits, have thrived for centuries despite oppression and injustice. Honoring this cultural resilience, we strive to promote new and vibrant art.

In Mamey, Chicago-based musicians Julián Pujols Quall, Micah Collier, Oscar Evely and Elijah Bradford come together to engage in collaborative composition, transcultural exchange and to further refine and define their musical identities.