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Faculty, Students Collaborate
To Produce 'Jazz and Beyond'

 MAILED:  April 17, 2003

EAU CLAIRE - Local listeners can tune their radios to 89.7 WUEC at 6 p.m. each Sunday and catch a documentary series on jazz and blues music produced by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty and students.

"Jazz and Beyond," a 13-week series exploring the history and styles of jazz and blues, is the result of a faculty-student collaborative research project initiated by David Jones, assistant professor of English, and three student researchers, Stephanie Anaya, a sophomore elementary education major from Fox Lake, Joseph Horton, a sophomore psychology major from Franklin, and Guillermo Mendez-Gorski, a sophomore history major from Eau Claire.

The students put in more than 200 hours of work on the original project, which was awarded a $1,000 grant from the UW-Eau Claire Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and $200 from the English department. The result was a three-hour pilot program, which was broadcast on May 1, 2002. Jones said the students and he provided background research, commentary, pre-production and on-air production for the program, which devoted two hours to jazz and one hour to blues.

This year Jones collaborated with Dean Kallenbach, regional manager for Wisconsin Public Radio, Stacy Thompson, assistant professor of English, Jim Egan, professor emeritus of economics, and six students to produce the "Jazz and Beyond" series to be broadcast Sundays, 6-8 p.m., April 6 through June 29.

"The show examines the history and current status of African-American music in the Midwest," says Jones, executive producer of the two-hour weekly programs. "Listeners get well-researched facts and stories and hear the music itself."

Jones, who joined the English faculty in 2000, is a blues musician who plays with a local trio, The Jones Tones. He holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota and teaches courses in 20th century literature and African-American literature. He says the project is a good way to build community. "Students are interested in music and learning about what's out there. Music is a good way to talk about social change in the 20th century. It's a way of highlighting a time period and then to go on and talk about literature and social history."

Mendez-Gorski, who is the on-air voice for the blues segment of the series, said the original idea was to chronicle the history and changes of jazz and to study how jazz has influenced modern music. "The idea was to see how jazz influenced different genres of music from early rock and roll to underground funk to early influences of hip hop."

"The more I learn about jazz and blues, the more I understand the music itself, want to hear and read more about jazz and blues," Mendez-Gorski said. "The really cool thing is that the more recent tunes I listen to sound better too."

Jake Morris, a junior music major from Maple Grove, Minn., co-produces the jazz portion of the series. Since January he's been working with Thompson to write the script and gather jazz recordings.

"Jazz and Beyond has been my most educational experience on the history of jazz. I have had an incredibly positive educational experience in producing and recording the show and also working with the outstanding team," Morris says. "In writing the scripts, I have absorbed much information about the past, present and future artists and their respective styles. I have learned about everything from ragtime and blues to fusion and avante garde jazz."

Morris also hosts the first hour of the show, which focuses on jazz. (The exception is the April 27 show on "Master Craftsmen of Jazz," which will be anchored by Egan.) Student researchers for the series include Morris; Mendez-Gorski; Anaya; Horton; Eliza Mbughuni, a senior history major from Stevens Point; and Matthew Parrish, a senior music and English major from Eau Claire. Student Sarah Rykal, a senior mass communication major from Chippewa Falls, is the technical producer for the series.

Jones said the students have volunteered hundreds of hours to research and produce the programs.

"Many people have put time and energy into this program," said Kallenbach. "This show is very true to our mission of providing programming that provides education and cultural enhancement."


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Updated: August 25, 2009