- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

Jim Carroll sees jazz as being in a "precarious position" and decided to do something about it.
Mr. Carroll, director of jazz studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, formed the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra. Funded entirely by the college, the orchestra gives its first concert tonight at GMU's Center for the Arts.
Mr. Carroll, who has been involved with jazz bands all his life and performed with such groups as Woody Herman's Thundering Herd and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterwork Orchestra, says the idea for the band was hatched during a conversation with a fellow faculty member. Mr. Carroll, who also directs the new band, says its formation supports a long history of jazz in the Washington area.
"The jazz club is becoming a thing of the past," Mr. Carroll say. "This orchestra will help to keep jazz music alive."
The orchestra is composed of 17 well-known local jazz artists.
Some of these artists include saxophonist Charlie Young, a music professor at Howard University; Liesl Whitaker, lead trumpeter with the U.S. Army Band's jazz ensemble and a charter member of the all-female big-band Diva, based in New York City; and Dave Steinmeyer, who has toured internationally and directed the U.S. Air Force's Airmen of Note.
Special guest will be Dolores King Williams, who also appears with the musical satire group the Capitol Steps.
Tonight's program, at 8, will feature classic compositions by musicians such as Washington native Duke Ellington. The performance is the first of many that the Center for the Arts plans for the coming months.
Repertory jazz orchestras have been popping up around the country since 1987, when Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, passed a resolution designating jazz as a "rare and valuable national treasure."
Ellen Acconcia, spokeswoman for the Center for the Arts, predits that the orchestra will be a hit locally.
"This orchestra will appeal to people of all ages," she says. "There is a niche of people in the community who love this music, and hearing the classics being played will make older listeners nostalgic but will also spark interest among younger audiences who are interested in the history and development of jazz music."

WHAT: Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra
WHERE: George Mason University's Center for the Arts, Braddock Road and Route 123, on the Fairfax campus
WHEN: 8 tonight
TICKETS; $16 to $32
PHONE: 703/218-6500 or online at www.tickets.com



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