If we believe, as George Benson crooned so memorably back in the day, that "children are the future," then today's kids are tomorrow's audience for jazz. Two programs this summer in St. Louis are helping introduce area youngsters to their American musical heritage:
* Once again this year, the Sheldon Concert Hall and the St. Louis Cardinals' Cardinals Care Foundation are teaming up to treat local kids involved in the latter's "Redbird Rookies" program to a free taste of live jazz.
Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Anderson and his Quintet will perform for the assembled youngsters at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23 and Thursday, June 24 at the Sheldon, playing music from Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other jazz greats. The idea is to teach the students that "jazz, like baseball, requires practice, creative improvisation, teamwork and respect for diversity."
Each child will get a free copy of Play Ball - Great St. Louis Jazz, a CD produced by The Sheldon and Cardinals Care featuring St. Louis musicians including Brian Owens, Carolbeth True, Reggie and Mardra Thomas, Ptah Williams, Rick Haydon, Montez Coleman and more. The kids also will be invited to try out their skills as scat singers live on stage, and the Cardinals' costumed mascot Fredbird is slated to appear, too.
* Craft Alliance has scheduled a jazz-themed summer day camp,"Jazz It Up," for July 19 through July 23 at their Grand Center location in the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N. Grand Blvd. Campers will spend mornings at Craft Alliance creating jazz-inspired visual art, then head across the street for an afternoon of musical activities at Jazz St. Louis, learning about the the blues, improvisation, instrument making, songwriting and more. The week concludes with an art show and performance for campers' family and friends.
The "Jazz It Up" day camp is intended for kids ages 8 to 10, and tuition is $300 per child, $270 for Craft Family Members, plus a $30 charge for materials. To register or for more information, call 314-534-7528, ext. 302 or visit the Craft Alliance website.