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Hans Schuman and Metta Quintet: Jazz Messengers

JazzReach helps to spread the jazz word

Metta Quintet: David Bryant, Joshua Ginsburg, Marcus Strickland, Greg Ward, Hans Schuman
JazzReach kids in New York. Photo courtesy of JazzReach

As the resident ensemble of New York-based nonprofit JazzReach, Metta Quintet goes into schools and venues around the country to educate students on the lives and work of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and other greats. JazzReach founder, artistic director and Metta Quintet drummer Hans Schuman figures that more than 255,000 students have been introduced to the music and its most fabled practitioners through his programs over the past 17 years. He compares his ongoing mission to that of a nutritionist teaching teenagers the value of good eating habits. “It’s the same thing with us,” explains Schuman, 44. “We’re just trying to cultivate a certain awareness of what’s possible within the realm of human artistic expression. If all you have access to is Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, that’s a limited perspective.”

The current edition of Metta Quintet, also featuring Marcus Strickland on tenor sax, Greg Ward on alto sax, David Bryant on piano and Joshua Ginsburg on bass, is currently on a tour that has taken them from Tahoe, Calif., to Greenville, S.C., to Dubuque, Iowa, and various far-flung communities in between. Along with playing concerts in support of their new album, Big Drum/Small World, they also present educational programs written by Schuman that address various themes connected with jazz. “What I tend to do is just put myself into the head of the age group that I’m trying to target and write a script that’s comprehensible but at the same time entertaining,” explains the Michigan native. “We don’t want to entertain them at the expense of not informing them, so we try to strike a balance.”

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