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Judy Carmichael: Listening for Life

Pianist and radio host launches program to bring jazz musicians to schools across the country.

Judy Carmichael and Chris Flory
Judy Carmichael
Chris Flory performing with Judy Carmichael and Michael Hashim

Pianist Judy Carmichael truly is a multi-tasker. In addition to maintaining a busy performing schedule at theaters and festivals in far-flung places, the pianist (and sometime singer) also hosts a popular public radio show called Jazz Inspired. Now she wants to add jazz educator to that crowded resume. She has developed a special educational program-Jazz: Listening for Life-that brings jazz musicians to schools across the country. On Thursday, February 10, she’ll host a fundraising concert at Steinway Hall in New York City, with an impressive lineup of guests, including Steve Ross, Harry Allen, Chris Flory, Mike Hashim, James Chirillo, Tony Monte, and Jon-Erik Kellso.

Carmichael says that she created the program because she wanted to bridge what she sees as a musical generation gap. “The Baby Boomers are the last generation to grow up with exposure to music with a complex harmonic structure, lyrics and melody-the ‘Standards,'” says the pianist. “The jazz we’ll present utilizes this repertoire. Fewer radio stations play jazz and less jazz is presented in concert halls, so the population with a shared vocabulary of this music is shrinking. Also, many young people have music devices plugged into their ears at all times, for a “soundtrack of their life” rather than as something they’re listening to in an engaged way. The skills for engaged listening are being lost and we want to address that.”

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