A Concert with a Cause: Jazz4Justice™ Celebrates 20 Years of Giving back through Music

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Hear members of the Mason Jazz Ensemble and more in Jazz4Justice™ November 20 at 8 p.m. at the Center for the Arts. Photo by Gabriel Rivera-Martinez. 

On Saturday, November 20 at 8 p.m., George Mason University’s Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music is proud to present the Jazz4Justice™ 20th Anniversary Concert, a one-of-a-kind event celebrating Northern Virginia’s love of music while raising funds to support legal services for low-income Northern Virginians and the George Mason University Jazz Studies program.

This year, in celebration of Jazz4Justice™’s 20th anniversary, Professor of Jazz Studies and Mason Jazz Ensemble Director Jim Carroll has assembled a stellar musical program featuring a tribute to the great Duke Ellington. The performance will include world premieres of new music as well as classic jazz standards performed by the Mason Jazz Ensemble and Mason Jazz Vocal Ensemble. To commemorate the special event, George Mason University Provost and Executive Vice President Mark Ginsberg will take the stage as a special guest conductor and lead the Mason Jazz Ensemble in select performances.

“We thought what better person to ask to take the baton as guest conductor for our 20th Anniversary than our Chief Academic Officer, Provost Mark Ginsberg,” Carroll said. “We are grateful he agreed to join us and lead us as Special Guest Conductor.”

Jazz4Justice™ is presented in partnership with Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV), a nonprofit legal aid organization that has assisted thousands of clients in the NOVA region for over 40 years. The services of LSNV in tandem with the musical talents of Mason’s Jazz and Vocal Ensemble has transformed Jazz4Justice™ into a welcoming space where Jazz admirers can congregate and celebrate their love for music. With over 3,000 concert attendees annually and over 50 Jazz4Justice™ concerts held so far, the audience response has been an enthusiastic one, and the event’s reach continues to expand year after year. In celebration of Jazz4Justice™’s incredible impact, alumni from the Dewberry School of Music Jazz program have been invited back to perform during the event’s program.

“Giving back to the community through musical performance is a great opportunity to share the joy and history of Jazz,” shared Tomas Jackson, a Dewberry School of Music alumnus (MA in Music ’20) and six-time Jazz4Justice™ performer. “Those strong relationships have lasted past my graduation and have inspired my peers and I to continue our support of our community and pursuit of Jazz through writing, arranging, recording, and performing. We will always be grateful for the opportunities and inspiration Jazz4Justice™ provided us.”

Professor of Jazz Studies and Mason Jazz Ensemble Director Jim Carroll with the 2021 Jack Wood Award for Town-Gown Relations.

Jazz4Justice™ began in 2000 when Fairfax attorney Edward L. Weiner attended a jazz recital by Mason’s School of Music. Impressed by the music, and reflecting on his work as a past President of the Fairfax Law Foundation (FLF), Weiner saw an opportunity for a new partnership—one in which universities would provide the musical talent and the local legal community would provide the audience and sponsors.

Today, this breakthrough idea has grown into a symphonic, celebratory event with over $500,000 raised for music scholarships, educational aid, and charitable legal services for Virginians in need of civic resources. Due to its astounding impact, Jazz4Justice™ has received awards from the American Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar, and has most recently received the 2021 Jack Wood Award for Town-Gown Relations, a coveted award recognizing leadership in fostering beneficial relationships between George Mason University and the community during the past year.

“This year’s Jazz4Justice is especially important as so many people in our community are hurting,” Carroll added. “That we can use Jazz, a true metaphor for democracy and teach our students to be “Artists as Citizens”' is truly a blessing.”

Tickets to the concert at the Center for the Arts are available at the Ticket Office (open Tuesday–Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), by calling at 703-993-2787, or at cfa.gmu.edu.