Austin Jazz Workshop in the public schools


The Austin Jazz Workshop is a unique project that brings professional jazz musicians directly into public school classrooms.  Since incorporating as a nonprofit in 1994, the group has received rave reviews from educators, administrators, and kids across central Texas.  The AJW visits over 120 campuses each year.

For the 2021-22 academic year, the AJW plans to return to on-campus assemblies and workshops with Takin’ Off! With Herbie Hancock.

Arts involvement is a wonderful motivator encouraging children to stay committed and excel in school.  The AJW’s primary mission is to remind students that music is fun, and something in which they can participate and excel.

We start early by reaching out to third, fourth, and fifth graders as they begin weighing the crucial choices that will shape their middle and high school years.  Participation in band, orchestra, and choir increases their odds of staying in school–while at the same time developing skills and making lifelong friends within a positive peer group.

For middle and high school music students with an interest in jazz performance and improvising, we offer our EMJATA program, where students jam with pro musicians in a supportive public setting.  Learn more about EMJATA under our “News” tab.

Please join us in our goal of providing positive choices for young people in central Texas.  Donate today!


Kids enjoying a performance

The Austin Jazz Workshop has completed 27 seasons in central Texas public schools.  They are as follows.

“John Coltrane’s Giant Steps” (2020-21) was an entirely live-streamed season, performing classroom workshops via Zoom and school performances via YouTube.  The AJW served 110 campuses in Austin, Round Rock, and Manor ISDs with 110 concerts and 240 workshops for an estimated 23,000 students.  We also presented our Monday FunDay Series from January to April 2021, with fourteen livestreamed concerts free to the public, supported by the City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division.

Performances: 124.  Budget: $99,634.

“Hoagy Carmichael’s Heart & Soul”
(2019-20) visited 92 of a planned 132 campuses and 14 of a planned 25 community events, with a program dedicated to the American popular song composer Hoagy Carmichael.  The COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent work shutdown, forced the AJW to scrub the final third of the season in mid-March 2020.  The EMJATA (Emerging Jazz Talent) Series moved to Opal Divine’s Austin Grill every third Sunday through March 2020, and our monthly last-Sunday residency at Central Market Westgate Cafe continued up to March 2020.

Performances: 106.  Budget: $108,788.

“The Birth of Bebop” (2018-19) visited 134 campuses, performing 134 assemblies and 28 community events with a program dedicated to the early pioneers of Bebop, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.  We continued our annual AISD Jazz Jubilee, performing with elementary school students, for a fourth consecutive year.  The EMJATA (Emerging Jazz Talent) Series premiered a new venue at Cherrywood Coffeehouse every third Sunday, and continued our monthly last-Sunday residency at Central Market Westgate Cafe.

Performances: 162.  Budget: $128,191.

“Songs of the American Spirit” (2017-18) visited 116 campuses, performing 116 assemblies and 32 community events with a program dedicated to Depression-era vocal tunes, featuring vocalists Julie Slim and Larisa Montanaro.  We continued our annual AISD Jazz Jubilee for a third consecutive year, and our EMJATA (Emerging Jazz Talent) Series to growing audiences at Threadgill’s Old #1 and Central Market Westgate, twice per month.

Performances: 148.  Budget: $112,439.

“Thelonious Monk’s Misterioso” (2016-17) visited 122 campuses, performing 122 assemblies and 35 community events.  We expanded the EMJATA (Emerging Jazz Talent) Series to two venues, with monthly appearances at Threadgill’s Old #1 and Central Market Westgate.  Students from seventeen AISD campuses performed with the AJW at our 2nd Annual Jazz Jubilee at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center and the Texas Community Music Festival.  The AJW also released our sixth CD recording, epistrophy: Austin Jazz Workshop plays Thelonious Monk, in April 2017.

Performances: 157.  Budget: $124,794.

“George Gershwin’s Big City Rhythm” (2015-16) visited 128 campuses, celebrating our landmark 2,000th school performance on March 24th.  We also performed twenty-five community events, including the ongoing EMJATA Series at Threadgill’s Old #1.  Students performed with the group at the Texas Community Festival and the AJW’s 1st Annual Jazz Jubilee, held at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center in April.

Performances: 153.  Budget: $131,457.

“Count Basie’s Big Band Sound” (2014-15) featured the largest AJW ensemble to date, bringing out a ten-piece band to play the hard-driving swing of the Count Basie Orchestra.  One hundred nineteen school campuses were visited.  The AJW also performed seventeen community events, including Texas Community Music Festival, Bergstrom Winter Festival, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Sunset Valley’s 60th Anniversary, and the EMJATA Series at Threadgill’s Old Number One.

Performances: 136.  Budget: $147,788.

“Sonny Rollins: Explorer in the Tradition” (2013-14) paid tribute to the great saxophonist whose career started in the 1950’s and continued for close to seventy years.  One hundred twenty nine school campuses were visited, including seven middle school campuses.  The AJW also performed twenty-one community events, including Texas Community Music Festival, Bergstrom Winter Festival, Umlauf Sculpture Garden, Elephant Room, and the EMJATA Series at Threadgill’s Old Number One.

Performances: 150.  Budget: $109,753.

“Henry Mancini: The Panther Prowls” (2012-13) was dedicated to the prolific composer of iconic film and TV themes such as The Pink Panther, Baby Elephant Walk, Peter Gunn, Moon River, and many others.  One hundred twenty four school campuses were visited.  Additionally, the AJW performed twenty-three community events, including the Austin Fan Fest, Texas Community Music Festival, Bergstrom Winter Festival, and the EMJATA Series at Threadgill’s Old Number One.

Performances: 147.  Budget: $115,532.

“Miles Davis: The School of Cool” (2011-12) focused on the trumpeter and composer who changed the course of music at least three times over his remarkable 47-year career.  One hundred twenty four school campuses were visited.  Additionally, the AJW performed nineteen community events and initiated the EMJATA Series (Emerging Jazz Talent) at the Elephant Room and Threadgill’s Restaurant.

Performances: 143.  Budget: $104,369.

“Jerome Kern’s Jazz: Greatness of a Nation” (2010-11) focused on the American immigrant experience and the early 20th century through the career of one of our greatest songwriters.  One hundred eighteen school campuses were visited.  Additionally, the AJW performed for ten community events, including our debut at the Texas Jazz Festival in Corpus Christi.

Performances: 128.  Budget: $95,699.

“Horace Silver: Many Streams, One River” (2009-10) brought the music of this prolific jazz composer to 117 campuses in Austin, Round Rock, Del Valle, and Manor.  Additionally, the AJW performed fifteen community events and released its fifth CD recording, Mystery Note, dedicated to the music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

Performances: 132.  Budget: $104,317.

“Bright Moments with Rahsaan Roland Kirk” (2008-09) brought forward the incredible artistry of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, a master musician of Black Classical Music.  The show performed on 118 public school campuses.  Additionally, the AJW performed nineteen special events and recorded a 5th CD released in Fall 2009.

Performances: 138.  Budget: $113,306.

“The Sound of Richard Rodgers ” (2007-08) focused on the prolific composer of classic Broadway shows like Carousel, Oklahoma, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.  Besides the school season, the AJW performed twelve events in Austin for area nonprofits and festivals.

Performances: 125.  Budget: $97,955.

“Jazz Royalty: Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn” (2006-07) brought the music of these two American master composers to 107 public school campuses.  We also performed 18 public events in and around Austin, TX for nonprofits and other groups.

Performances: 125.  Budget: $93,743.

“Fats Waller’s Jumpin’ Jive ” (2005-06), presenting the music of the great Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller, appeared on 101 campuses.  The AJW also performed 14 community events and released our 4th CD, Big Boss Tenor.  Additionally, we initiated two 3-week Improv Intensive residencies for jazz band students at Kealing Middle School and LBJ High School.

Performances: 115.  Budget: $103,766.

Our eleventh season (2004-05), “Tough Texas Tenors”, featured two tenor saxophone players going horn-to-horn over jazz standards and original compositions.   Special guest saxophonists Alex Coke and Russell Remington shared their debut with the AJW.

Performances: 103.  Budget: $83,489.

“Over the Rainbow with Harold Arlen” (2003-04) was dedicated to Harold Arlen, the man who wrote many of the songs that have become part of our national fabric. Featured tunes included “Over the Rainbow,” “Come Rain or Come Shine, ” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.”

Performances: 89.  Budget: $69,655.

“Bebop, the Pulse of Jazz” (2002-03) honored Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and the others whose musical innovations in the 1940′s profoundly changed the direction of jazz.

Performances: 84.  Budget: $63,750.

“The American Songbook: Cole Porter” (2001-02), featured many of the classic songs of this master composer, including Anything Goes, What Is This Thing Called Love, and Just One of Those Things.

Performances: 91.  Budget: $80,831.

“New Orleans and the Birth of Jazz” (2000-2001) focused on the early African-American pioneers of jazz, such as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Scott Joplin, and Jelly Roll Morton.

Performances: 85.  Budget: $71,010.

“Gershwin; The American Dream in Song” (1999-2000) was devoted to American composer George Gershwin. The Austin Jazz Workshop received a Community Collaboration Award from local civic leaders for our work during this season.

Performances: 70.  Budget: $53,754.

“Monk, Master of Modern Music” (1998-99) was dedicated to the great African-American pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

Performances: 74.  Budget: $44,855.

“Bosses of the Bossa Nova” (1997-98) focused on the Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa.

Performances: 66.  Budget: $43,513.

“Trumpet Titans of Jazz” (1996-97) examined the careers of three trumpeters whose work transformed jazz history in different ways–Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis.

Performances: 25.  Budget: $21,353.

“Ellington” (1995-96) presented the work of this most important of bandleaders.

Performances: 19.  Budget: $14,895.

“Currents in Jazz” (1994-95) looked at the streams that fed into jazz music, including gospel, the blues, classical, and rock.

Performances: 14.  Budget: $8,700.

AJW in Action!
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