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"The Jazz program at Ann Arbor's Community High School under the direction of Jack Wagner is superior on an international level. I've never encountered such a concentration of mature and genuinely talented, focused young jazz musicians as those students in Jack's program. The quality of players he consistently fosters borders on uncanny, and it is truly inspirational to encounter this flock of extremely promising, dedicated young "monsters." They are really "saying something," yet are quite humble and always ready to learn. The Jazz program at Community High is surely the finest of its kind, which is an understatement in that it's actually one of the only such effective programs in the world today."
-Benny Green, Grammy-winning pianist, former member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the groups of Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, and Ray Brown
"We visited Community High School today and heard high school music we didnt know existed in the world. They have amazing teachers over there."
-Victor Wooten, 5-TIME GRAMMY WINNING bassist, 3-Time CHS Jazz Guest Artist
"Jack Wagner is doing incredible things at Ann Arbor's Community High School with the students and jazz. On a recent visit there I was really impressed with the high level of musicianship and knowledge that the students who played for me demonstrated. And even more the attention over an hour and half by the large number of attendees was incredible. Jack is really doing a major service by inspiring these students to partake in such a rewarding activity as playing jazz. Congrats!!"
-Dave Liebman, Multi-Grammy nominated saxophonist, Recorded over 500 albums, including those with Miles Davis, Chick Corea, McCoy Tyner, Michael Brecker, Doctoral Jazz Saxophone Professor at The Manhattan School of Music
"I just wanted to say what a delight it was to work with the jazz students on Tuesday. It is extremely rare to come across high school students who play with such a depth of understanding of this complex art form, and with a joy and enthusiasm that reflects their passion for this music. They seem to have tapped into the essence of the spirit of jazz and a particular style of jazz at that, the subtleties of which are easily lost in today's musical climate and found relevance in this way of expressing themselves. It's truly remarkable. Only from the passion, dedication and skills of a teacher like Jack Wagner could this be achieved. I can't wait for the next opportunity to return to Community HS."
-Michael Weiss, Pianist for the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, 15-year Pianist of Johnny Griffin, CHS Jazz Guest Artist
"CHS Jazz is one of the best programs of its kind anywhere. The students are knowledgeable, dedicated, passionate, and playing on a very high level. With the guidance of Jack Wagner, CHS is nurturing the next great wave of young musicians and jazz ambassadors. This is the real deal!"
-Steve Wilson, Saxophonist and recording artist with Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland, Mulgrew Miller, Maria Schneider, Juilliard Saxophone Instructor
"It's a really well-rounded program; I learned a lot about jazz and music in general, and then got to apply this knowledge through gigs. What I've learned through this program has not only helped me play jazz. I have used the improv and group dynamics skills I learned to play everything from rock to blues to folk."
-Ben Pernick, CHS Jazz Guitarist
"Jacks program has everything: tunes, transcriptions, language, improvisation and most importantly: community. Everyone in the program has a sense of belonging, and all ranges of jazz experience are accepted and can flourish in the environment it creates. He teaches the tradition of jazz, while giving the resources and the support to students for exploring modern jazz, and all forms of modern music in general. While there are few colleges who can truly claim to have this, Jack has made THE high school program to educate the next generation of Ann Arbor jazz musicians. Being an alumnus of the program, I can easily see the advantage Community High Schools program has given me in putting my best foot forward in college, and my career."
-Adam Olszewski, CHS Jazz Graduate
"The CHS Jazz Program has given me a world of opportunities that I wouldnt have had elsewhere."
-Don Gozzard, CHS Jazz Drummer
"Jazz at Community is rigorous, challenging, and expressively artistic. My daughter has found long-lasting friendships in the classes and a depth of musical experience -- independent gigs, master classes with professional musicians, a trip to Victor Wooten's jazz camp -- that is unrivaled. Jack Wagner may teach improvisation, but his exuberant commitment and systematic excellence are anything but improvisational. As a former jazz student myself, I can honestly say that the CHS jazz program and its leader are rooted in true soul."
-John Krienke, CHS Jazz Parent
"As a current student of the MSU Jazz Studies program, I am thankful for the essential skills that Jack Wagner and CHS Jazz helped me to garner as a developing musician. As I move forward with graduation and my transition into the world of professional musicians, I know that the practice habits and performance methods attained in my years with Jack will provide the foundation for my approach to the music for years to come."
-Jud Branam, CHS Jazz Graduate
"As U of Michigan music school alumni, my wife and I were glad to see our son get involved with the Community High School Jazz program. The opportunities to perform Jazz standards in real world settings along with the expectations for students to conduct themselves as professionals has been outstanding. Special guests and master classes from musicians in town for their own gigs puts the program over the top."
-Dave Collins, CHS Jazz Parent
"Jack Wagner and his jazz program at Community High have changed our son Erez's life. The opportunities to learn jazz history and performance at a high level, then to use this education through all of the community gigs Jack arranges have all been just fantastic! These, as well as the education of playing together with other students, entail a lot of organization and responsibility and keeping track of details.
We are extremely impressed with Jack Wagner's level of service, hard work, and commitment to the Community High School jazz students. He runs ten (or more?) jazz bands, including students who are outside of the high school and dual enroll and have crazy schedules. What was so impressive (to our friends who came to the End of the Year Blowout at The Ark) was that he includes students at all levels equally and supports the students in performing, learning, and being collaborative and supportive of each other. He is a high level professional at what he does, and our son has grown immensely under his teaching. His success rate of students who received full college scholarships is extraordinary. He goes above and beyond what would seem to be typical for a jazz program teacher!"
-Adrienne and JP Dessel, CHS Jazz Parent
"I highly doubt there is another high school jazz program in the country that brings in both the quality and quantity of guest artists that Community High School brings in. Listening to jazz is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to learn. At CHS Jazz, I have gotten the opportunity to listen and learn from CHS Jazz alumni to world-renowned Grammy winners. Community High Jazz is full of great people and musicians; the chance to be apart of this program should not be missed."
-Danny Langa, CHS Jazz Parent
"These small groups allow for an abundance of individual attention and instruction. The students in the Community Jazz Program are dedicated... the trusting, familial atmosphere of Community fosters this musical enthusiasm."
-Milan Griffes, CHS Jazz Pianist
"The thing that my university students struggle with the most is trusting their own creative ability--their capacity to craft an idea or insight that is both unique and worthwhile--and taking responsibility for it. This creative capacity is just what the CHS Jazz Program builds in its students. That the music is great (and it is) is just part of a much larger project. This is education at its finest."
-Phil DAnieri, CHS Jazz Parent
"To me, the CHS Jazz Program is an irreplaceable experience. Having this class is the perfect end to a school day... a chance to have fun playing music with friends but also learning the music that I have come to love in hands-on, creative, and productive ways."
-Kyle Morrison, CHS Jazz Saxophonist
"The CHS jazz program has been a transformative experience for Adam. Music has always been a part of his life, but he was searching for opportunities to express himself musically that are just harder to come by in classical music performance. The CHS jazz program placed him in a small combo with like minded kids of similar musical ability, and he learned about listening while playing, improvisation and the practical side of music theory. Highlights include gigging, master classes, social bonding with his band mates, and the exposure to a variety of styles and instruments. And he is learning about 20th century American history thorough learning about jazz. Overall it's probably been the most important academic experience of his young life, and he is hooked :) We can't wait for our younger kids to get the opportunity to participate when they get to HS age.By the way, we have all gotten educated in our home about jazz, music and American history through Adam's jazz class. To quote Ahmad Jamal, it truly is American classical music. Thank you!"
-Alon Kahana, CHS Jazz Parent
"It is unlike any other program that I have been in. Is it hard? Yes. But even more rewarding. The feeling I got from standing on the stage performing was incredible."
-Rose Henkin, CHS Jazz Trumpeter
"CHS jazz has done more for me than just make me a better player. It's taught me how to become a better person and to have motivation in life to do well."
-Aidan Cotner, CHS Jazz Guitarist
"The CHS Jazz Program is THE way to learn music. Students get a deep grounding in music theory and classic songs. Then they get to apply it in live performances."
-Alicia Farmer, CHS Jazz Parent
"Our son was looking for a challenge beyond the usual. When he met Community High School Jazz Band Director, Jack Wagner, he knew he had found the unique music program that would simultaneously welcome him and challenge his abilities. The Community High Jazz Program provides each student a foundation to study and practice jazz principles in a classroom setting. Within that framework, students are divided into cohesive combo bands that practice together, and then play in statewide competitions and local community gigs throughout the year. Communitys Jazz Program also focuses on improvised solos as key individual contributions to overall group success. Playing a unifying riff as a combo provides a student musician support and encouragement, and also the freedom to experiment and create during an instrumental solo. The combos continue to build from each others distinctive moments, to highlight the present with improvisation that may never be duplicated again, and then look confidently forward to follow the groove as a musical team. As each band develops, so do its members, playing in a program that fosters mutual respect for each other as musicians and shared bonds as classmates and friends. Learning as part of a jazz community has been an essential part of our sons high school experience.The caliber of guest musicians that conduct workshops and play with students involved in the jazz program at Community is unmatched. Our son still talks about how memorable the jazz programs retreat at Wooten Woods in Tennessee was for him. Their surprise guest that weekend was none other than Bela Fleck, one of the many notable pals host Victor Wooten had brought in for the weekend workshops. Being a part of the Community High Jazz Program was one of the main reasons our son wanted to go to Community High School and its exceeded his and our expectations in every way."
-Lucy Langa, CHS Jazz Parent
"CHS Jazz is where I got inspiration for my music for four years."
-Ken Ball, CHS Jazz Guitarist
"We are very impressed with The Community High School Jazz Band Program. We enjoy seeing the many fine young musicians negotiating what is often complex material in such a musical and informed way. We attribute the success of this program to the overall vision of the jazz program at Community High, and we think this is a testimony of the high standards of its director Mr Wagner."
-Lauro & Patty Ojeda, CHS Jazz Parents
"No matter how we describe this program, we realize that to people who haven't experienced it that our words will sound a bit over the top because it really is that good. In a word for my son (PiHi dual enrolled sophmore): transformative. He went from an interested student messing around with music to a budding musician in this amazing program under Jack's energetic leadership. Jack has unbounded enthusiasm and respect for the music, the kids, and their potential, no matter what/how they play and where they start. If they are driven and dedicated, they make it to Jazz level III or IV and will have an opportunity to perform gigs around town. That first live performance was so exciting for the kids and they did so well it seemed to inspire my son to take his work that much more seriously (the suit didn't hurt). All while having fun in every class and every performance. Amazing."
-Christine LePottier, CHS Jazz Parent
"My son switched from classical cello to jazz bass when he started at CHS. The transition went well and he has enjoyed being part of this dynamic program. Jack succeeds in being a teacher the kids respect and work hard for as well as making it fun. The guest artists and gigs out in the "real" world enrich the class. I highly recommend the jazz program at CHS."
-Nancy Stoll, CHS Jazz Parent
"We are thrilled that our son, who had fairly narrow musical tastes, discusses the relative merits of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, and thinks the world of Duke Ellington. Plus, as parents, we get to hear him play at home and get to see the CHS combos play at the school, the Ark, and clubs. It has given him incredible responsibilities, maturity, and confidence. Great program!"
-Bipin Patel and Sophie Grillet, CHS Jazz Parents
"Community High Jazz Program is a gift. It has been a gift to my son who is in his second year at Community. He started playing jazz in middle school and knew that he wanted to continue on that path in high school. His first year this gift was so apparent to me, as his parent to learn how special this program really is. How Jack teaches these young musicians how to really become jazz musicians. His passion for Community Jazz is passed on to the students. Music is a path to so much for all of these students. Whether or not they want to follow the path of music or not, it will open doors for them in academics, in collaborative skills, in a passion for something that is rare to find in a public high school program. I am so grateful for this gift of this wonderful program. I hope that it continues to thrive for many, many years to come. I could go on and on...."
-Allyson Calhoun, CHS Jazz Parent
"The Community High Jazz program is spectacular for numerous reasons. Although all specialty programs know how to support the most gifted performers or practitioners, the CHS Jazz program does a particularly good job of exposing young artists, at all levels, to the joy of collaboration and live performance. As these young artists gain confidence through experience, their growth strengthens the entire program."
-Rob Reinhart & Susan Barnes, CHS Jazz Parents
"I joined the program as a music enthusiast with some basic knowledge of music theory but no experience with jazz. I was placed in Jazz One and began to learn about jazz and how it is different from other genres of music I was previously familiar with. Jazz One served as a springboard to send me into the jazz world. After listening to a range of jazz songs I found a love for a genre I never thought I would like. My second year in the program found me straight in Jazz Four. I was progressing satisfyingly quickly in my musical career. I was placed in a band of very talented musicians and found myself more and more immersed in the genre. I have been able to see a whole host of great jazz musicians through this program. Meeting these great musicians has helped me understand what it's all about, and what I can become if I keep at it. I am now in my Junior year at Community High and I am finding the jazz program to be a constant source of confidence and enjoyment. It has become a reliable way for me to express myself. I am very thankful for the jazz program as it has taught me how to overcome challenges however difficult they may be (test type two) and it has taught me how to grow as a musician and person. Community High School has been a blessing to me and the jazz program is one of the essential elements in what I love about my school."
-Mitesh Patel, CHS Jazz Bassist
"The jazz program has been one of the highlights of my son's high school experience. The class has been challenging at times -- which is great. Students learn to play with one another, respect one another, and conduct themselves as responsible individuals in real world gig experiences. Kids are encouraged to do their best and usually rise to the performance as it is not about pleasing the teacher, your friends, or yourself, it is about the whole kid and the whole musician out in the world."
-Laurel Maguire, CHS Jazz Parent
"The CHS combos have been great because of the experience of the older players. From beginning band to advanced there has always been someone who could teach me (besides Jack)."
-Leif Gearhart-Hall, CHS Jazz Trumpeter
"I love CHS Jazz!"
-Josh Fendrick, CHS Jazz Drummer
"Jack is running a great show and the kidsare excited and engaged. It's a luxury in today's world, and we really appreciate that. Inviting quality musicians for workshops has been a signature of the program and a great tool to fire up the kids and make them go the extra mile."
-Mariana and Mihail Mihaylov, CHS Jazz Parents
"I went into Community High's Jazz Program having never played bass or even Jazz. It has been over two years since then and I have no regrets. It has been a lot of fun learning about great music and getting better at playing it myself."
-Adrian Stoll, CHS Jazz Bassist
"The Community High Jazz program is an excellent music program that enables high-school students to develop the skills needed to perform as a Jazz ensemble. Advanced students get to go on gigs (e.g. perform at the Detroit Auto Show, UM Law School, Kellogg Eye Center etc.) which help to further improve their performance skills. The program is highly recommended for students who are passionate about music, even if they have no prior exposure to Jazz. Our son Jonathan is fortunate to be a part of this program and it has benefited him greatly. His Jazz IV class is one of his favorite classes in the day."
-John & Nayana Lynn, CHS Jazz Parent