Students in five New Orleans public schools will be treated to live jazz on a regular basis starting in the fall of 2003. The University of New Orleans (UNO) and the New York-based Louis Armstrong Edu

Students in five New Orleans public schools will be treated to live jazz on a regular basis starting in the fall of 2003. The University of New Orleans (UNO) and the New York-based Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation have made a multiyear commitment to create the Louis Armstrong Jazz Quintet at UNO.

Pianist Ellis Marsalis -- patriarch of the jazz family that has produced trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo, and drummer Jason -- founded the jazz program at UNO and came up with the idea of bringing jazz music to public schools, said Jeff Cox, chairman of the UNO Music Department.

Led by UNO music faculty members Chuck Taylor and David Nelson, the idea took flight, and the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation has pledged its financial support. The money will be used to attract the five musicians, who Cox said will probably come from all over the U.S. and beyond. While attaining their master's degrees at UNO, the musicians will perform regularly and teach jazz at five New Orleans middle schools. Cox said the five musicians will be selected by April 2003.

In other Big Easy news, the city will celebrate Louis Armstrong's birth in typical fashion with music, food, and a Roman Catholic Mass. Planned as a one-time event, Satchmo SummerFest was so popular last year that organizers decided to make it an annual event, which will off today (Aug. 1) and last through what would have been Armstrong's 101st birthday on Sunday.

"This was an opportunity to really concentrate on jazz. It was something that was missing," said Sandra Dartus, executive director of French Quarter Festivals, the agency producing the celebration.

Following today's reception at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, which was renamed last year in honor of the musician, who died in 1971, there will be four stages throughout the city featuring free musical performances. Scheduled performers include Wendell Brunious, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Tuba Fats and the Chosen Few Brass Band, Dejans Olympia Brass Band, the Dukes of Dixieland, and Dr. Michael White.

Additionally, educational seminars will be given by leading jazz historians at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint. A jazz Mass will be held Sunday at St. Augustine Church. For more information, visit satchmosummerfest.com.


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