top of page
  • Donny Thompson, M.S., NPA

Southern Nevada is Full of JOI (Jazz Outreach Initiative)!

It’s been a very busy couple weeks (yes, I said "WEEKS"!) here at Jazz Outreach Initiative and we’re excited more than ever to continue building momentum! We were just about everywhere the past couple weeks! Read below to learn about how your donations, sponsorships, and volunteer efforts are "Making A Difference!"


April is International Jazz Month and April 30th is International Jazz Day. JOI will be included in the world-wide celebration of International Jazz Day. According to the official publication, “The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is chaired and led by UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay and legendary jazz pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, who serves as a UNESCO Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. The Institute is the nonprofit charged with planning, promoting and producing this annual celebration.” You’ll find our video submission on the website.

We will also celebrate International Jazz Day locally by presenting a free big band jazz concert at 7pm Friday April 29th at Community Lutheran Church on East Tropicana Ave. The concert, titled “April in Paris Vegas” will feature our Las Vegas Youth Jazz Orchestra presenting their spring concert followed by our professional JOI Jazz Orchestra which is receiving rave reviews at each of its performances! The concert will also benefit humanitarian efforts for the people of Ukraine. Given the official mission of International Jazz Day noted above, it’s entirely appropriate to dedicate this free concert for this cause! Feel free to wear “Sunflower Yellow” to our concert! TICKETS ARE NOT REQUIRED.


On April 5, we sent JOI Mentor and drummer Jakubu Griffin to work with the early bird Jazz Big Band at Greenspun Junior High School. JOI Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Kenny Rampton was in town and attended along with co-founder and V.P. Education & Programming Gary Cordell, and Executive Director Donny Thompson. Jakubu did a phenomenal job working with the band on their phrasing, attacks, section playing, dynamics, and more, and even had a chance to sit at the drum set to work with the rhythm section. Band Director David Martinez and Band Aid Aaron Miller enjoyed the improvements made in the hour we were there and Kenny even stepped in and provided some insights to the students.

JOI in Schools is in its second month since launch and provides middle and high school bands with 100% free in-school professional jazz clinics as band directors and students prepare for upcoming festivals and concerts. The program has been funded for up to 20 school bands by a generous gift from Gee and Fred Katen. Mentors are drawn from our stable of professionals and mentors from the JOI Jazz Orchestra and have included luminaries such as Prof. Dave Loeb, Nathan Tanouye, and Curt Miller.

Pictured from left: Aaron Miller, David Martinez, Jakubu Griffin, Gary Cordell, Kenny Rampton, Donny Thompson


March 27th, JOI re-launched its highly acclaimed “Jazz for Young People” concerts. Licensed to JOI by Jazz at Lincoln Center, “Jazz for Young People” takes the audience through a brilliantly scripted and narrated history of a select jazz luminary. Accompanied by the JOI Sextet, audience members learn about the life and history of legends such as Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and others. This performance featured the life and music of Miles Davis.

Thanks to a partnership with College of Southern Nevada’s Music Department and longtime friend and Chair, Robert Bonora, JOI was able to provide this concert free to the community with funding from Music Performance Trust Fund. The concert was held at the Nicholas J. Horn Theater on the CSN Cheyenne Campus. The JOI Sextet members were Dave Loeb (piano), Molly Redfield (bass), Johnny Friday (drums), Phil Wigfall (alto sax), Wayne de Silva (tenor sax), and Jorge Machain (trumpet) and was narrated by Gary Cordell.


After the “Jazz for Young People” concert concluded, that evening JOI and CSN partnered to produce a free big band concert for the community. The concert opened with the CSN Big Band performing selections from its spring repertoire. Headlining the evening was our professional big band, the JOI Jazz Orchestra featuring JOI Advisory Board member and legendary headliner Clint Holmes on vocals. JOI Jazz Orchestra’s program continued its focus on spotlighting the incredible talents of local musicians, composers, and arrangers with arrangements and original compositions from band members Nathan Tanouye and Jorge Machain, and homegrown composers Rachel Eckroth and Dennis Mackrel. The JOI Jazz Orchestra includes some of the nation’s best 1st call musicians. In fact, Las Vegas Review Journal columnist John Katsilometes asked, “Is there was any other music happening in Las Vegas tonight, because all the best cats are here on stage with us?!”

The band included Clint Holmes (vocals), Lauren Cordell (violin), Jim Buck (guitar), Dave Loeb (piano), Molly Redfield (double & electric bass), Johnny Friday (drums), Danny Falcone (trumpet/flugelhorn), Gary Cordell (trumpet/flugelhorn), Wes Marshall (trumpet/flugelhorn), Jorge Machain (trumpet/flugelhorn), Curt Miller (trombone), Nathan Tanouye (trombone), Dave Philippus (trombone), Sonny Hernandez (bass trombone), Phil Wigfall (alto sax/flute), Eddie Rich (alto sax/flute/clarinet), Wayne de Silva (tenor sax), Rob Mader (tenor sax/clarinet), and John Summers (baritone sax/clarinet).

We would like to extend a special thank you to Bob and Shirley Kramer (coordinators for our JOI Volunteer group the JOI Jazz Alliance), Ron and Maria Forgey, Joanne Gilbert, Patrick Frase, Amy Crosley, Patty Prather, and others who manned our JOI Table in the lobby for both concerts, collected donations, answered questions, and chased Donny down when the TV news crews were looking for him!


Between the CSN Big Band and the JOI Jazz Orchestra sets, Executive Director Donny Thompson presented JOI's third Jazz Routes recipient to the audience and officially launched the new exclusive strategic partnership with Music & Arts, the nation’s largest instrument retailer. Jim Winslow spoke on behalf of Music & Arts about their pleasure in working with our organization in such a unique way. He then presented Girls Athletic Leadership School middle school student, Elaina Saunder and her family with a new clarinet. Elaina wanted to learn clarinet because her mom had played the instrument as a young girl.

Then Las Vegas Review Journal entertainment columnist John Katsilometes represented the Las Vegas community donors and sponsors by presenting Elaina with a certificate good for a year of free private clarinet lessons. “Jazz Routes” is the only known program of its kind with pairs an instrument donation with a year of music lessons which represent the largest cost to a student who otherwise may never have access to this outstanding educational and emotional growth experience.

JOI is pleased to have the support of many small monthly donors who help pay for the music lessons along with a gift from Gee and Fred Katen.


JOI Media Advisor and long-time supporter Nathan Tannenbaum produced an outstanding feature story about JOI recorded during the March 27th concerts. The segment aired on April 6th and included interviews with Kenny, Gary, and Donny, along with clips of our new exclusive strategic Jazz Routes partners at Music & Arts, the Jazz for Young People concert, and the JOI Jazz Orchestra performance.

Channel 13 also came out and did a brief interview with Donny and shot some video of the Jazz for Young People concert for their primetime newscast.


Executive Director, Donny Thompson, enjoyed some radio time with the folks at KUNV 91.5 Jazz & More, the nonprofit radio station at UNLV. KUNV was hosting its membership drive and Donny sat in with "Galaxy" on his 3-4pm slot to talk about the importance of jazz education, outreach, and performance opportunities provided by Jazz Outreach Initiative. A $500 match was offered for donations & memberships that came in during that hour and the pair were able to raise $1,150!

Thanks to the efforts of our great friend, Jennifer Bradley of JB Public relations, Donny was also featured on a segment with radio personality, Steph Mackenzie’s “Neon & Beyond” show on 5 radio stations including 97.1 The Point. Steph and Donny discussed the accelerating growth of JOI as it emerges from the pandemic, our upcoming concerts, and Jazz Routes, among other programs. You can listen to the broadcast here:


Following the incredible success of the JOI Jazz Orchestra’s concert at the Nicholas J Horn Theater, the band immediately went into the studio to record its first album! Vegas composer Rachel Eckroth joined the fun as the band recorded her original piece "Days on End" and the album will also feature original arrangements of big band classics and original compositions by band members Jorge Machain and Nathan Tanouye.

The album will feature the same repertoire and musicians, including Clint Holmes, as was performed at the concert with additional contributions from Kenny Rampton and a legendary surprise guest artist! We’re keeping that a secret until we complete the project! Stay tuned for exciting announcements!! Special thanks to the JOI Board of Directors, Donny Thompson, and Gary Cordell for providing dinner for night #1 and to Chef Dan and Brandi Thompson at D’Agostino’s Trattoria for sponsoring dinner on night #2 of the recording session!


Executive Director Donny Thompson represented JOI by attending the 10th annual Las Vegas Jazz Invitational hosted by Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. The two-day event featured jazz participants from several middle and high school bands along with the ensembles from the Las Vegas Academy. Jazz is live and well in Southern Nevada as represented by so many school jazz bands and their talented and dedicated teachers!


It was truly a “JOIful” night as our own Kenny Rampton was one of three people awarded the UNLV College of Fine Arts 2022 Koep Dean’s Medal by Dean Nancy Uscher. JOI Advisory Board member Clint Holmes introduced Kenny’s award with a tribute to his upbringing in a very musical family and his dedication to giving back to the community through Jazz Outreach Initiative. The other medal recipients were jazz great and Dir. of UNLV Div. of Jazz and Commercial Music, Prof. Dave Loeb, and Native American Artist Fawn Douglas. Cooper Rust received the 2021 Alumna of the Year award and the Hall of Fame inductees were Dionne Warwick, Cynthia Gregory, Paul Anka, and Michael Tylo (posthumous).


210 views0 comments


bottom of page