Saturday, October 15, 2005, musicians from the Mississippi Coast Jazz Society will play for the Nevada Medical Group encamped on Pass Road in Gulfport, MS, where doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are giving free medical assistance and immunizations to local coast residents.
Musicians from the Society have been fighting to preserve and perpetuate traditional jazz in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster by performing both for coast residents who are trying to recover from Katrina, and for the relief workers who have come to help them. With the devastation of both New Orleans and Southern Mississippi, the future of traditional jazz, a priceless piece of original American culture, is uncertain.
The Mississippi Coast Jazz Society, the organization in southern Mississippi which has been dedicated to preserving and perpetuating traditional jazz for 28 years, has lost almost everything. All of its musical instruments and equipment were lost during Hurricane Katrina. Even the venue where monthly jam sessions and socials were held was leveled during the storm.
Many of the Society's members who survived the storm have suffered tremendous losses. Some have lost their own musical instruments and equipment while even less fortunate members have lost their homes. Many musicians from the areas of New Orleans and Mississippi have still not been heard from since the storm. "I'm glad to be here to help say thanks and to be with the guys from the Jazz Society," said Dr. Frank Wagner, a drummer from New Orleans.
Others who have lost everything are leaving the Gulf Coast. "I've lost my home and everything. I'm on my way to Dallas as soon as my insurance is settled, but I will miss the coast and my fellow musicians," said Mike Brewer, a banjo player. Before Hurricane Katrina, the Society promoted traditional jazz in many ways including awarding scholarships to young jazz musicians, finding instruments for underprivileged students who played jazz, working with educational, nonprofit, arts, and historical organizations and by holding monthly jam sessions. However, with the tremendous losses suffered by the Society, it may be not be possible for these activities to continue.
Before Hurricane Katrina, the Society promoted traditional jazz in many ways including awarding scholarships to young jazz musicians, finding instruments for students who wanted to play music but did not have the means of obtaining an instrument, working with educational, nonprofit, arts, and historical organizations and by holding monthly jam sessions. However, with the tremendous losses suffered by the Society, it may be not be possible for these activities to continue.
However, in the heart of an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina, an area where the roots of traditional jazz run deep, and without adequate resources (enough musical instruments, equipment, or operating funds), the future of the Society's mission, and of traditional jazz itself, remains uncertain.
If you would like to donate to or learn more about the Mississippi Coast Jazz Society, please visit www.mscjazz.org