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  • Writer's pictureJAM

2023 Recipients of the Woody Herman Award for Excellence in Jazz Education


For more than 50 years, vocalist and saxophonist Woody Herman, led his Thundering Herd—a popular swing era big band, and one of the first to embrace modern jazz, with compositions like Four Brothers, Blue Flame, and the terrific modern jazz arranging of pianist, Ralph Burns a mainstay of Woody’s many Thundering Herds.

With 3 Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award at his passing in 1987, “The family of Woody Herman is pleased to pay homage to Woody once again by creating this award in his name, to honor outstanding jazz educators and jazz advocates,” said Tom Alexios, Woody Herman family spokesperson on Jazz Education and a long-time Jazz Ambassadors board member.

The awards are handed out each April, which happens to be Jazz History Month. “It is important to honor outstanding jazz educators and supporters of jazz education who recognize that the future of jazz is in the hands of today’s children.” Said Alexios, “The commitment and passion of our honorees ensures the legacy of jazz and we celebrate their tremendous contributions.”

The award was created in 2022 to honor jazz educators who have made a significant impact on the lives of students and advocates of jazz education. The family of jazz great Woody Herman has announced the recipients of the second annual Woody Herman Award for Excellence in Jazz Education.

2023 honorees include:

Luis Diaz of Milwaukee, WI, who for more than 35 years, has had a distinguished career as a percussionist, clinician, instructor, recording and mixing engineer, band leader, and expert in Afro-Caribbean music. Diaz was a Latin percussion instructor and clinician for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music from 1999 – 2006. Diaz also provided jazz experiences to students in the Milwaukee public schools for many years and has led jazz clinics and workshops at numerous institutions including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, and Milwaukee Tech College.

Luis Diaz has inspired and influenced hundreds of young jazz musicians, many of whom have pursued careers in music education and performance.

The Meyer’s brothers, Tom and Mike are owners, along with their sister Mitzi Meyer-Phelan, of Meyer Music—a retail store, founded by their father in 1966, that now has 3 Kansas City locations.

Meyer Music works with public school music directors and students and is known throughout the area as a go-to source for instruments, accessories, instrument repair, sheet music, and music lessons. Meyer Music has an unparalleled impact on music education in the Kansas City area.

Tom Meyer has been the driving force behind the Band of America Marching Band Festival and has worked tirelessly to raise money for the Blue Springs High School band program. In 2010, Mike Meyers and WDAF-TV co-founded the nonprofit organization, Band of Angels, that collects and repairs used musical instruments and gives them to children, so they can participate in band and orchestra.

Band of Angels provides scholarships for students to perform in and attend music camp. Meyer Music is a consistent sponsor of music events and festivals throughout the metro and has been a major sponsor of the 18th and Vine Jazz Festival for middle and high school jazz ensembles since its inception in 2002.

For more information

Tom Alexios, representative of the Woody Herman Family - thomasalexios@gmail.com

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