Jazz Threads A New Look at a Historic Tapestry

Jazz Threads commemorates the history, celebrates the present, and builds the future of the vibrant American art form of jazz on a local level. Long committed to bringing artists into deeper contact with the diverse constituencies of Champaign-Urbana, Krannert Center convened a broad spectrum of community artists to consider a jazz-based artist residency project that would touch the community in a significant way. From that first meeting in January 2002, we began to refurbish a tapestry created years ago. It depicts a love affair with jazz; it looks at the environment that allowed the art form to grow through the mid-20th century; and it celebrates our area's treasure trove of professional jazz artists. As we gaze at this tapestry, we'll consider the promising future of our community, making connections through jazz.

During early meetings, it was determined that an ideal artist/ambassador for Jazz Threads would be Cecil Bridgewater. Born and raised in Champaign-Urbana, Cecil now lives in the jazz mecca of the world, New York City, where he is recognized as a successful jazz trumpeter, music educator, arranger, and composer. During three visits to his hometown, Cecil and his special guests will move through our community teaching, speaking, and inspiring people with jazz. Each week of Cecil's residence will culminate with a concert at Krannert Center.

Throughout the year, special events for novice jazz listeners and will blend with mentoring activities for young musicians, playing opportunities for musicians of all levels, and unique listening events in traditional and non-traditional venues all around the community.

The final celebration of Jazz Threads will be a Jazz Homecoming in the historic Virginia Theatre on May 2, 2004, when Cecil Bridgewater will make his fourth visit of the year, joining many other musicians who have touched the Champaign-Urbana community through jazz.

As Champaign-Urbana recaptures the thrill of its jazz heyday and celebrates the accomplishments of its musicians, we hope to educate and inspire a new generation of jazz lovers and players. Please join us in this grand journey.

We welcome volunteers of all backgrounds to help with all aspects of Jazz Threads. To get involved as a volunteer or member of the committee, please call Stephen Cummins at 217/333-6703 or email jazzthreads@kcpa.uiuc.edu. .

"For a town this size, there's a lot going on. A lot more going on here than anyplace I've been that's this size. People gripe about it after they've been here for awhile, but you know, they haven't had the advantage of being someplace else where there isn't anything." —Tom Wirtel

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