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Future of Jazz Showcases Best Student Performances, Raises Money for Scholarships

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Members of KCKCC Jazz Program under the direction of Jim Mair

KC Jazz Ambassadors announce a new jazz series, featuring the talents of the area’s best student musicians. The "Future of Jazz” program, scheduled for the first Tuesday of every month at Johnnie’s Jazz Club in Downtown Kansas City, opens November 9th, 2021, with an ensemble from KC Kansas Community College under the direction of top sax player and jazz instructor Jim Mair.

Each participating college or university will receive a $500 contribution from the Jazz Ambassadors for its jazz studies students. There is no cover charge at Johnnie’s; restaurant and bar services are available, including Johnnie’s $2 Taco Tuesdays, a student favorite.

“Our Tommy Ruskin Scholarships have been a mainstay of the Jazz Ambassadors for years,” commented KCJA president Mark Edelman. “Now we’re expanding those scholarships to all of the great jazz programs that are turning out find musicians. Tommy was a mentor to a huge number of local jazz musicians, so it’s appropriate that we name these scholarships after him.”

Future of Jazz Tuesday club gigs are scheduled from 7 to 9pm during the school year, September thru May. After the November 18 opening, the UMKC Conservatory will field jazz combos on Tuesday, Dec 14; Feb 8 and April 12, 2022. The KCK Community College program returns on Tuesday, January 11. March 8 welcomes the jazz ensemble for Ottawa University in nearby Baldwin, KS; and the May 10 gig will feature the best high school jazz musicians under the direction of KCJA board member Herschel McWilliams.

“Besides the scholarship component, the Future of Jazz will give these student musicians an opportunity to play in a professional club setting,” explained KCJA board member and secretary Linda McShann. “That kind of experience is important, if a student is to grow into a working musician.”

The KCJA Future of Jazz series is sponsored by members of the Jazz Ambassadors, who contribute thru their annual dues to the organization’s scholarship and Musicians Assistance Fund programs. For information about the Jazz Ambassadors—including how to become a member-- visit

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