Swinging With the Jazz House Kids

Fine wine from Amanti Vino, great food from Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Villalobos, Pig & Prince and Ariane Kitchen & Bar will combine with the precocious musicianship of the Jazz House Kids orchestra in the group's seventh annual Body & Soul fundraiser, Saturday, February 28.

Last year, former Top Chef contestant Ariane Duarte, then of CulinAriane in Montclair, was the event’s sole caterer. But on February 28th, Duarte, now chef of Ariane Kitchen & Bar in Verona, will be joined by chef Kevin Sippel of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, chef Adam Rose of Villalobos in Montclair and chef Michael Carrino of Pig & Prince, also in Montclair, in catering the Body & Soul fundraiser at the historic Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair.

If you’ve never heard a Jazz House Kids performance, prepare to be astonished. Jazz House Kids range in age from 8 to 18 and come from 35 different school districts in New Jersey. They are taught by professional musicians, and when the best of them get on stage, as they will on Feb 28, watch out!

They can bring it!

Not only that, but many of the kids who take up an instrument with Jazz House Kids take up more than music. They take up a vocation, a love of ensemble playing and ensemble living. They develop pride in excellence, pride in being part of something positive.

Jazz House Kids teaches about 500 students a year, and many of them become the first person in their family to go to college.

So while your ticket to the Body & Soul evening will buy you a night of terrific food, wine and music, it will also keep a terrific program for kids motoring and motivating.

The evening is divided into two segments…

The Early Show, from 6:30 to 8 pm, will feature a raw bar and small plates menu from chef Sippel and his team including JHBK owner Chris Cannon. Expect treats like sherry-braised veal cheeks with caponata, along with wine pairings from the Montclair wine shop Amanti Vino and its owner, Sharon Sevrens. The Jazz House Kids big band will perform throughout. The cost of an Early Show ticket is $250.

An Early Show ticket includes admission to the Main Set, from 8 to 11 pm. (A ticket for the Main Set alone is $150.)

Guests can swing to different eras of jazz in different rooms. Music by the French gypsy jazz band Manouche Bag will be paired with French cuisine, including lamb shank cassoulet, from Pig & Prince’s Carrino.

Rose of Villalobos will serve Latin-American tapas to accompany the all-female, multi-national Latin Jazz orchestra, Coco Mama.

Ariane Kitchen & Bar will provide corn beignets and pulled pork with pineapple salsa in the Juke Joint room for blues and soul by Jazz House emerging musicians.

Melissa Walker, president and founder of Jazz House Kids. is a professional jazz vocalist who founded the program in 2002 to help introduce children to jazz’s cultural legacy and encourage musical performance and participation.

She began the program in Newark’s public schools and brought in professional artists to encourage aspiring musicians. Well-known performers including Pat Metheny, Chris Botti, Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves and Esperanza Spalding have held free workshops.

Walker and her husband, Grammy-Award-winning bassist Christian McBride, who serves as the group’s artistic chair, are the driving forces in the success of the program.

In 2013, Jazz House Kids moved into a 4,000-square-foot facility in downtown Montclair, where students as well as adults take instrumental and vocal classes at all levels, all year, regardless of any financial limitations.

“The Jazz House is a hub of activity where kids of diverse backgrounds from across the state come to work with their peers and be mentored by our faculty and special guests,” says Walker. “They harness their talent, learn to cooperatively work together, gain the confidence to play on any stage and create something bigger than themselves.”

For tickets, visit jazzhousekids.org.

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