JAMM President Announces Resignation

After 14 years as the leader of the Jazz Alliance of Mid Michigan, Lois Mummaw is stepping down as president of the organization that she & her husband, jazz composer and former JAMM Treasurer Gregg Hill, co-founded in 2009.

Lois asked that her letter to the current JAMM Board be shared with all our Founding Members, Supporters, Past Board Members, Honorees, and Scholarship Recipients. Please see below.

Dear Officers of the Jazz Alliance of Mid Michigan–Paulette, Natalie, and Lynne– and the At Large Board Members–Ken, DJ, Stuart, Doug, Ralph, Ian, David, and Beth,

First of all, I’d like to thank Paulette for agreeing to be the Interim President for the rest of 2023. JAMM would not be intact right now if not for Paulette’s relentless promotion of JAMM since my 2017 illness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your leadership, Paulette.

It is with a mixture of sadness and joyful anticipation that I officially tender my resignation as President of JAMM. Sadness because I have thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with all you Jazz Cats over the past 14 years. Joyful anticipation because of all that lies ahead with my grandson, music & traveling with Gregg, and a couple of (not-so) secret projects I’ve been working on.

It is my hope that JAMM will continue with its original mission of “preserving and promoting the tradition of Live Jazz across Mid Michigan” by supporting the Cafagna/Izenson Scholarship, securing gigs for the JAMM Scholarship Band at festivals and jazz & JAMM events, donating to and volunteering for area jazz festivals and jazz events, hosting one or more Member Mixers throughout the year, and staying involved with International Jazz Day. I also am very confident that you all are very capable of EXPANDING JAMM’s reach by fundraising and writing grants to support things that haven’t even been thought of yet!

If you all decide to continue the tradition of the Annual JAMM Tribute, I would like to suggest that you keep Ian as the Coordinator and Arlene as the Music Director–they both have done an extraordinary job of organizing the Tributes in the past. I would also suggest that you enlist the help of all the Past Honorees–JAMM has quite a roster now and they love to be asked to perform and help.

Doug, Natalie, and Ralph make a dynamic Scholarship Team. I hope they all stay and make progress with a partnership with Everett High School for the Cafagna/Izenson Scholarship and the JAMM Scholarship Band. I hope that every high school kid in that school (and all high schools in Mid Michigan) can’t wait to audition for that scholarship. I hope the JSB becomes the JAMM Scholarship Big Band or Jazz Orchestra someday!

I plan to work behind the scenes until year’s end with Candice and Kate to update and archive the JAMM Website. I will communicate with Paulette as to our needs for copy, etc. She can pass that info along to you all. I also will work with Paulette and the new Treasurer to get addresses changed, etc. I am hoping that if I cc Lynne (AKA best secretary) on these communications, she will take notes.

Gregg and I plan to contribute to JAMM every year and attend as many JAMM events as possible. We both are very proud to have been involved with such a wonderful group of people.

I wish you all the best as you move forward. JAMM is made up of a solid core of Founding Members, New Members, and Jazz Fans–all of whom are very committed to “preserve and promote the tradition of Live Jazz across Mid Michigan”.

It’s been my pleasure and honor to serve as JAMM’s President,
Thank you,

Peace, Love & Long Live Live Jazz,
Lois Mummaw, President, Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan 2009-2023
jammprez@gmail.com   5172421126

JAMM Members to Perform at East Lansing Summer Solstice Jazz Festival!

Photo by Alexus McClane

Be sure to check out some of our outright favorite jazz performers and JAMM members and supporters, at the 2018 East Lansing Jazz Festival, June 22-23.

Friday at the Main Stage, named after JAMM Founding Members Al and Beth Cafagna, will be songbird and former JAMM Tribute Honoree Sunny Wilkinson. She’ll be there from 6pm – 7pm, so you’ll want to be sure to head over, find out where the festival will be parking us all (major construction as you likely know), and where the stages will be, so you can find a seat in in time to hear Ms. Sunny’s incomparable voice and fantastic song stylings. We hope to hear from her latest CD, “INTO THE LIGHT.” Do an online search to read reviews and learn more.

Sunny’s “favorite pianist” and husband, Ron Newman, also a Tribute Honoree and JAMM Founding Member, will be at the helm on the same stage, 9:30-11:00, directing the Lansing Symphony Big Band w/Benny Bennack, At the age of 27, Pittsburgh-born Benack III has been hailed by Nate Chinen of the New York Times as “a charismatic young trumpeter who maintains an earnest sideline as a singer”. As a dual-threat, he’s quickly established himself as one of the most versatile and virtuosic voices of his generation. 

At the MSU Outreach and Engagement Stage, our own JAMM Scholarship Band will open the festival, playing from 4pm – 5pm. Ian Levine will be sitting in on drums with Doug Fritch, on guitar, and also leading the band, all prior recipients of the Jazz Alliance of Mid-Michigan’s Sandy Izenson Scholarship. The Education Stage is going to be located this year on Albert St, close to the intersection of Division.

Closing it out at this same stage on Friday is one of Lansing’s favorite sons, and great JAMM supporter and member, Phil Denny. He’ll be hitting at 9:30 and ending about 11pm, if the audience will let him stop playing! (Well, they’ll have to or the police will enforce the noise ordinance!) The funk comes out strong with this guy and so does the audience participation, so be sure to come over and see what’s goin’ on!


Whitaker, seen here, with students during 2017 summer sessions.

The MSU Big Band Symposium Orchestra, is a fantastic project started by another JAMM Founder and Director of MSU Jazz Studies, the preeminent Professor Rodney Whitaker. Two groups will perform, one at 3:00-4:00 and another, 4:30-5:30. You won’t want to miss these great kids, who come from across the country in June to study with MSU staff and students.

Orchestra Ritmo, Saturday at the Founder’s Stage, will go from 9:30-11:00 and finish out this wonderful festival. As many of you know, Mike Eyia is the leader of this stellar ensemble and has been a JAMM member, respected musician and great friend, for many years.

Meet 2018 JAMM Scholarship Recipient Justin Mason.

Julienne and Keith Mason, enjoying son Justin’s first performance with the JAMM Scholarship Band at Gregory’s Soul Food on Jazz Day.

Meet Justin Mason.

He is a junior at Okemos High School and one of two recipients of JAMM’s Sandy Izerson Scholarship Award, given in 2018. The Sandy Izerson Scholarship is given annually.

Justin has been playing trombone for seven years, since 5th grade, adding jazz to his interests in 7th grade, when eligible to join the school’s jazz band.

Justin states “The first experience that I can recall that really got me into
playing jazz was when I heard “Brooklyn” by the Youngblood Brass
Band.” The Youngblood Brass is a New Orleans-inspired brass group from
Wisconsin. “Brooklyn” written by Nat Macintosh, the sousaphone
player in the group, features multiple written trombone solos played by Matt

“It wasn’t long before I was absolutely obsessed, and recruited a
group of my friends to try and play the tune for our school’s 8th
grade talent show, though this didn’t exactly pan out.”

Justin said he didn’t actually start improvising until the next year, when he
joined the high school Jazz Ensemble, and began to discover more of
the jazz greats.

He states, “I slowly moved away from the harsher, older style of New Orleans
playing, and moved into the more “refined” styles exemplified in swing
and bebop. I started listening to Tommy Dorsey’s transcendent ballad
playing, echoed in the contemporary playing of Bill Watrous, and Carl
Fonanta, whose legacy is continued by Bob McChesney today. Other
favorites include Andy Martin, Wycliffe Gordon, and of course, JJ

Cleary, Justin has a deep connection, not only to jazz, but to the trombone.
He made his first appearance with the JAMM Scholarship Band April 27 at
this year’s annual JAMM International Jazz Day event, The International Jazz
Day Dance Party, held at Gregory’s Soul Food in Lansing.

The audience was comprised of JAMM supporters and others
attending one of our events for the first time. It was great to present Justin as
the newest member of our musical family. His parents came as well, and
brought friends, so it was a very special event for the Masons, and for JAMM!