Praise for J&D

“Dr. Wes' course is fiercely interdisciplinary and quintessentially American. It's the American Studies course we all need to take—to remember where we come from, and most importantly, where we are going as a democratic nation. I encourage all youngsters to take part in this magnificent course.”
- Kabir Sehgal, Author of Jazzocracy: Jazz, Democracy, + The Creation of a New American Mythology
“Dr. Wes is doing important work in and through The Jazz & Democracy Project. The curriculum inspires all students—musicians and non-musicians alike—to view jazz as more than a genre, but as a model for social inter-connectivity that will take us collectively to higher ground. Through the program he hires musicians to play in classrooms, supporting his local jazz community, and placing the music within reach of the next generation. Wherever he goes—locally, nationally, internationally—Dr. Wes and J&D are an asset to the global jazz community."
- Wynton Marsalis
"When I came to class I expected a lecture on the study of jazz. But when we experienced hands-on movement, watched videos, learned the basic Blues, and heard what it meant to be a musician, it felt as real as I thought I could ever be to jazz."
- 9th Grader
“Students come away with real experiences about how they personally affect other people and work as teams. Additionally, J&D provides an essential and often overlooked window into the inner-workings of America’s native art form that speaks to such important building blocks of our society: collectivity, freedom, structure, expression, improvisation.”
- Zack Pitt-Smith, Music Teacher, Edna Brewer Middle School
“Dr. Wes is second to none…. What is most obvious and endearing to me about what he brings to children is his caring about them and learning. J&D for Dr. Wes seems not just a name, but a way of walking, talking, and teaching…. He has carefully constructed a web between what happens in the world of music and history, and made it palatable and relevant for children.”
- Kelly Clark, 5th Grade Teacher, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy
“I truly believe that J&D has provided a platform on which students will be able to build a more in-depth understanding about democracy and American government in the future. I think the most important aspect of J&D is that it opens up students to avenues of inquiry that are not usually explored in depth at the elementary and secondary level. They are encouraged not merely to learn that Jazz was born in early 20th century America and has x-number of subgenres. They are thrown into experiencing the difficulties and the rewards of working together to make music spontaneously, which gives them a richer understanding of the music. They have similar experiences with concepts of Democracy both in and out of music settings. They learn the difficulties of working in a group with equally powerful players, including the difficulties of consensus building and the frustration of having one player flout group-determined laws. They also learn the importance of listening to one another…to prevent chaos and stagnation.”
- Vanessa Siino, Attorney and Volunteer, Horace Mann Middle School