Orbert Davis Wants To Keep Jazz Alive In Schools

Award-winning Chicago musician Orbert Davis is best known as a world class jazz trumpet virtuoso, but he’s also an educator who wants to keep music in schools.

Davis, the founder of the 55-piece Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, is also an Emmy-award winning composer. Another passion that runs deep: teaching jazz, and other life lessons, through the Jazz Alive Program.

“It’s about, ‘Boy if I can spend some time with my instrument, I will be better.’ And we also transfer those skills to their academic success as well. Do more reading. Do more studying of words. Make your words come alive through you instrument,” he said.

For the young musicians at Lionel Hampton Fine and Performing Arts School in the city’s Ashburn neighborhood, the lessons are priceless.

“I learned that if I practice a lot I can turn out to be just as good as him,” Terron Montgomery said.

“It’s been an honor. I’ve learned a lot from watching him perform, watching him speak, watching him work with kids,” music teacher Nadine Smith said.

“When you stepped forward, you are now performing with them,” Davis said. “They will never forget that and that’s what school should be: experiences that we never forget.”

Davis and school administrators said there aren’t discipline problems in the schools that offer Jazz Alive. Instead, the educators see improvements in grades and a stronger sense of community.



By Hosea Sanders