The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc., is dedicated to protecting, preserving and perpetuating the rich cultural heritage and legacy of jazz, which is one of our indigenous musical art forms. Accentuating Its Roots from Mother Africa which has evolved and developed Global Fruits.
The Black Jazz Music Caucus (BJMC) of the National Association of Jazz Educators (NAJE) was founded in 1977 primarily by Larry Ridley and Anderson White at the NAJE Conference in Daytona Beach, Florida. The initial purpose in forming the Caucus was to increase the representation of African American Jazz artists and educators within the larger body of the Jazz Educators Association which originated as a spinoff of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Both jazz organizations have since expanded their concepts, outreach and parameters. As a result, they each have renamed themselves, the African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC) in the year 2000 and the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) in 2001. The early aims of the Caucus were also to provide support to African American Jazz artists and educators at elementary, secondary and higher educational institutions. Since the Caucus inception, it has produced clinics, workshops and performances annually at the NAJE/IAJE Conferences. These activities have featured highly acclaimed African American jazz artists including the Harlem Renaissance Jazz Orchestra, Barry Harris, Stanley Turrentine, Hank Marr, Everett Greene, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Phil Ranelin, Billy Higgins and many others.
The activities of the Caucus in the late 1970s to the present continue to have a profound impact on Jazz education. They help to ensure that all Jazz educators recognize and acknowledge accurately the African American progenitors and their contributions made to the Jazz art form, i.e., its African, African American historic cultural, spiritual aesthetic and musical roots, stylistic individuality, diversity, improvisation, theory, composition and arranging concepts. As more and more educational institutions continue to establish courses and degree programs in Jazz performance, compostion, arranging, history, pedagogy and the music industry, the AAJC is actively working to develop the resources to provide much needed support to Jazz artists and educators. The AAJC has become a proactive entity in addressing the challenges that its members face in teaching Jazz at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels. These challenges include the creation of employment opportunities, the sustenance and protection of employment and programming, the allocation of adequate resources, and, the creation and monitoring of curricula that rightfully acknowledge and position the history and contributions of African Americans as the progenitors of the Jazz art form.
AAJC President Badi Murphy appointed Larry Ridley, internationally renowned jazz artist and member of the IAJE Hall of Fame, as the Executive Director of the AAJC in the Fall of the year 2000. Ridley's first goal and accomplishment came to fruition in 2001 with the acquisition of the organization's I.R.S. 501, (C) 3, tax exempt status. This was an important step in the expansion of the fiscal and programming capabilities of the AAJC. Through his creative vision and ongoing efforts, the African American Jazz Caucus also began to establish a stronger cooperation of networking, interaction and interfacing as an affiliate of the former International Association for Jazz Education.
The National Association of Schools of Music, NASM, is an organization of schools, colleges, and universities that offer music studies. The organization was founded in 1924 and is recognized by the United States Department of Education. It has 589 institutional members and has established threshold standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials. Institutional membership is obtained and continued through the peer-review process of accreditation. NASM provides statistical information, professional development, and policy analysis services. It also makes available for purchase many helpful publications, including a listing of accredited institutions. An important liaison in 2001 was instigated by Executive Director Ridley and established in an AAJC SubCommittee (Ridley, Dr. Jesse McCarroll, Ben Dixon) spending a full day meeting with the NASM Executive Director, Dr. Samuel Hope. The agenda was the reviewing of the guidelines and criteria used by NASM in the accreditation of jazz degree programs at colleges, universities and conservatories of music in the United States. The meeting was very substantive and thorough in it's review and analysis. All of the meeting's suggested recommendations for revision were unanimously accepted and approved by the NASM Board of Directors.