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!