The Jazz & Democracy Project® is a music integrated curriculum that uses jazz as a metaphor to illustrate the study of United States history and to cultivate a profound understanding of American democratic ideals: “J&D brings American democracy to life, enriches the study and teaching of U.S. history, government, civics and culture, and inspires youth to become active, positive contributors to their communities.”
Wesley J. Watkins, IV, PhD, the founder of the Jazz and Democracy Project®, says: “I teach children about jazz as a way for them to understand democracy.” Today he talked to a group of West Valley College students, with great enthusiasm, about the history of jazz and its parallels to American history. “Jazz as improvisation,” he said, is a lesson in unity.” Most importantly, jazz and democracy relate, he explained, in that “they are both processes”; that is, jazz and democracy are “a set of actions taken to achieve a desired end.”
After Dr. Wes (as he likes to be called) talked, two WVC Jazz music students, Jason Keiser and Jordan Wolfe, performed jazz standards on their guitars.
Here is a video of Jason Keiser playing bluegrass.
And here are Jason Keiser and Jordan Wolfe with their Jazz Quartet.