[Dixielandjazz] Jazz in Northern Nevada Schools

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 13 15:01:36 PST 2005

Here's a newspaper article from Reno NV, October 2004, about a "working"
OKOM band that decided to make it happen in schools rather than recite
reasons why it couldn't be done.

Steve Barbone

Jazz in schools - Scot Marshall  By William F. Schley
Scot Marshall combines his knack for story-telling with his upright-bass
skills to educate youth about jazz and life. To contact Scot Marshall
regarding Swing Dogs, aka Brass Knuckles Jazz Band, and their In-Tune-Tales
and Elements of 20th Century American Music jazz programs, call 771-2831.
Scot Marshall's enthusiasm for school kids, his own or anyone else's, proves
that a truly American art form like jazz can inspire even the youngest
listeners. His Swing Dogs jazz band, known to local adults as Brass
Knuckles, combines jazz music with popular children's stories when
performing the In-Tune Tales program. They also present the educational
Elements of 20th Century American Music program. The full band dazzles young
audiences in school auditoriums with a look at jazz as the original American
music form. 

Swing Dogs' members have been playing together with various changes in
personnel since 1998. The idea to take jazz into Northern Nevada schools
began when Marshall's sons asked him to tell them about jazz. Bedtime
stories about Louie Armstrong and Bucky Jones evolved into written stories
recited orally by Marshall, while accompanied by guitar, horns and bass.

Seasonal In-Tune Tales favorites, such as Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole
Christmas, expose youngsters from kindergarten through sixth grades to
professional-quality jazz right where they are best able to appreciate it.
Sources for In-Tune-Tales also include African-American and Jewish folk
tales, the poetry of Robert Frost and Acadian tall tales.

The Elements of 20th Century American Music program gets students, teachers
and parents involved, teaching all to recognize jazz rudiments like
call-and-response technique or improvising.

"We feel that it is very important to get the best music possible to the
youngest audiences able to enjoy it," said Marshall, "and it really thrills
the kids." 

Marshall also said Swing Dogs' programs expose city-raised children to the
idea of oral tradition. Marshall, always the MC for the band's programs,
encourages young students to ask parents about life, growing up, and what
people did for fun when their parents were young, then use those stories to
begin their own oral tradition.

Marshall, who plays upright bass, often brings local guitarists Lin Phillips
or Terry Scott along to both In-Tunes and Elements programs. Both artists
have accompanied Marshall for weekly gigs at Rapscallion Seafood House in

"Both of these guys are incredibly expressive with their playing," Marshall
said, "and that's invaluable when teaching a concept like improvisation."

Drummers Jeff Bond and Bob Bacha both swing with the Dogs at Elements
performances. Versatile artists, Bond and Bacha have played with such
recognized talents as Cami Thompson and Danny Morona. Bond is an in-house
drummer for Circus Circus, while Bacha played with the Cleveland Symphony

Marshall's trios also perform for local churches and libraries. Last year's
Thanksgiving gig at the North Valley Library in Stead packed nearly 200
people, kids and adults, into the compact venue.

"We just love having Scot and his band members here," said Washoe County
librarian Beate Weinert, "because their show introduces these kids not only
to jazz, but to much larger social concepts."

"It's really a very hands-on multi-media approach to teaching and learning,"
Marshall said, "because we invoke visual, auditory and emotional stimuli."

Marshall, whose dulcet vocal tones Truckee Meadows residents may recognize
from his previous job as DJ and announcer on Smooth Jazz 92.9 FM, also sings
numerous standards and jazz selections. Marshall can regularly be heard
holding forth at Rapscallion, the Enoteca Jazz Lounge downstairs at the
Siena and other jazz-oriented venues. 

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