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January Whirlwind - Traveling South and Back Again

Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference

New Orleans, LA - Jan 3-6, 2024

January rang in with another amazing JEN Conference in the birthplace of Jazz. As usual, I volunteered as badge checker and general gopher, which always allows for a thousand little spontaneous encounters with friends and colleagues old and new.

Carmen Bradford performs with the UNC Jazz Orchestra - JEN 2024

A few highlights nouveaux amis Québécois; productive discussions with potential institutions for pursuing my doctorate in jazz composition & arranging; fantastic clinics on a plethora of timely topics; and a truly transcendent closing night of concerts on the main stage.

Amazing Reunions - There and Back Again

I love driving across this beautiful country - as it allows me to reconnect with folks I've known and loved all along the way. Highlights of this trip south included:

  • A quick lunch in Kentucky with my old mentor from Northwestern days - Dr. Kevin-Holm Hudson - to talk turkey about making music and pursuing doctorates.

  • FINALLY seeing Nashville! Getting a taste of its PALPABLE good vibe, and reconnecting with friends met in Paris a decade ago.

  • Lunch with Uncle C.B. (plus bonus Uncle John and Nancy on the way back!) in Mississipi

And the big icing on the Mississippi cake

Seeing my dear old childhood friend, Pia Chatterjee, for the first time since my family last left Saudi Arabia when I was 12 years old! The visit was WAY too short... but SO amazing all the same! I look forward to doing it again much sooner!

Then and now...

Scat Cat Sessions, Toledo - le retour

Would have loved to spend a few more days in NOLA to explore the city, but had to hurry back to Toledo to do the 2nd half of our Scat Cat Sessions at Beverly Elementary - thanks to the efforts of Melissa Mason, 2 grants from the Ohio Arts Council, and an extra boost from our Arts Embassy International supporters.

The kids did GREAT! And I'm amazed and gratified to witness just how much of the information I introduced them to back in October actually STUCK! So cool to be able to interact with the same group of kids more than once, and witness the impact your teaching is having <3 #everybodywantstobeacat

Shout out to the wonderful students from Bowling Green State University who showed up for the kids and gave them a taste of what it's like to play with real jazz musicians for their final performance :-). Thanks Tumaini Sango (Piano), Thomas Johnston (bass), and Riler Kramer (drums)... and to Ariel Kasler (professor) for recommending them!

And Then the Reality Check

The rest of January was overcome by 2 successive family health crises.

One of the many reasons I've been focusing on working in the U.S. more these past few years is precisely so that I can be at least a bit more available when my family needs me – and boy were we all glad that I could be there this time!

The good news is that the immediate health threats have all mostly resolved themselves – and now it's just a matter of a million little incremental adjustments to daily life for all involved.


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