Photo by Tom Schwarz

JEN was founded by the vision and teamwork of two industry veterans, Mary Jo Papich and Dr. Lou Fischer. Together, with their combined experience and love for jazz, they joined the jazz community together in 2008 to help this wonderful organization thrive. Their countless hours of dedication and expertise has allowed JEN to expand across the globe, providing unique education, experience, and opportunities to jazz students, teachers, artists, industry partners, and jazz fans. They continue to inspire and educate, as they remain as dedicated as ever to the JEN mission.

Mary Jo Papich

Mary Jo Papich, known for her avid support and leadership in arts education, is Co-Founder and Past President of the Jazz Education Network (JEN). She is the artistic director for Jazz Fests for school bands in New Orleans and Puerto Vallarta. Serving public school education for 35+ years, she recently retired as Fine Arts Director for Skokie D219-recognized as one of the finest HS Fine Arts program in the nation; she served 8 years as Fine and Applied Arts Chair at Highland Park High School and coordinated FOCUS ON THE ARTS festival with hundreds of volunteers. While the district Fine Arts Coordinator of 35 schools in the Peoria Public School System #150 (1992-2001), she founded and directed the Peoria Jazz All Stars whose performances included Montreux, North Sea, and Umbria Jazz Festivals, IMEA Conference, American School Board Association Conference and many other state and local events. Prior to her administrative position, Mary Jo was an award winning band director at Peoria’s Woodruff High School (1982-1992). Before leaving Peoria in 2001, she founded a District Preparatory Arts School at Peoria High School. Her early years of teaching were in rural Iowa, Ottumwa and Moulton-Udell K-12 public schools.

Mary Jo’s leadership/honor positions in addition to JEN include: Founder of the Puerto Vallarta Jazz Festival via HP Sister Cities Foundation, serving on the Artistic Access to Excellence Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts and as a member of the Quincy Jones Consortium, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Advisory Board, IAJE, past Illinois Music Educators Association Vice-President, and Highland Park Cultural Arts Commission and many other arts organizations. Mary Jo currently serves on the selection committee for the NARAS Grammy Music Educator of the Year award.

Mary Jo’s recent honors include receiving a Lifetime Jazz Achievement Award from DownBeat magazine, the Arts Inspiration Award from The Art Center, Superintendent’s Recognition Award, Character Counts Award, Huespid Distinguido from the Mayor in Puerto Vallarta and the Prestigious Women in Jazz Award from the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. Former awards include: PPS Superintendent’s Award, and YWCA Leader in the Arts Award. HPHS Patrons of the Arts annually award a Highland Park High School student the M.J. Papich Leadership Scholarship. JEN has honored her with giving the Mary Jo Papich Women In Jazz Scholarship to deserving students at their annual conference.

Papich is the editor of The Jazz Educator’s Cookbook-Creative Recipes for Players and Teachers, a collection of performance tips from outstanding educators put in recipe format for quick reading. The Jazz Educator’s Cookbook is published by Meredith Music and distributed by Hal Leonard Music (ISBN 978-1-57463-158-6) with proceeds going to the Jazz Education Network.

Mary Jo, a graduate of Truman State (MO) and Bradley University (IL), was raised in south central Iowa; graduating from Albia Community High School. Her many presentations include: National Association for Music Education National Conference, many State MEA conferences, Midwest Clinic, IAJE Conferences, Siena Jazz Foundation (Italy), South African Jazz Conference (2008/2010) at the University of Cape Town, Brubeck Institute. Her professional affiliations include IMEA, NAfME/MENC, ASCD, Illinois Arts in Education Alliance, International Women in Jazz and International Society for Music Education. Mary Jo’s vision is that all children will know and appreciate the arts, especially their musical heritage of jazz.

Her goal is for JEN to be the vital jazz resource today and for JENerations to come!

Dr. Lou Fischer

Dr. Lou Fischer is Co-Founder, Past President, and the Conference Coordinator for the Jazz Education Network (JEN). A Professor of Music, Lou acted as Jazz Studies Chair from 2001-2017, as is currently directs the Big Band, the conFUSION BAND, and teaches Jazz Theory and Jazz Arranging. Lou is the Founder of the Capital University Jazz & World Music Festival now in it’s 23rd year. While at the University of North Texas, Dr. Fischer was a member of the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band (1971-1974). Returning to the university after his extensive professional touring career, Fischer holds a BM (1991) and MA (1992) from the University of Denver, and a Doctor of Arts from Ball State University (1999).

As the former eleven year jazz division head for Music For All, Lou’s forty-five year career represents a virtual Who’s Who in Music, including composing and/or performing studio work, Broadway Shows, and extensive touring with The Crusaders, Red Rodney, Airto, Charlie Byrd, Andy Williams, Emmy Lou Harris, Woody Herman, Louis Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Bill Watrous and Bobby Shew, among many others.

A select list of recordings include groups he has co-founded: highTIME Morning Walk; Beaux J Poo Boo All Things Are New. In addition, he has performed on Steve Houghton’s Gershwin: The Manne We Love; Bill Watrous’ A Time For Love & Bone-i-fied; Shelly Berg’s The Joy; Frank Mantooth’s A Miracle; and Sunny Wilkinson’s High Wire.

A Yamaha Bass Artist Representative, performing on the Yamaha Silent Bass exclusively, clinics/concerts have been performed in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Mexico, South Africa, and three hundred+ institutions across the U.S. Lou’s compositions are published by eJazzLines.

Educational textbooks include: Stylistic Etudes in the Jazz Idiom, (Hal Leonard); Jazz Solo’s for Bass Vol II (Kendor Music); and Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Band Directors (Alfred), which includes an Educator’s Manual,a dvd, 5 student workbooks, and a play-along cd co-authored with Shelly Berg, Fred Hamilton, and Steve Houghton.

Lou has directed All State Ensembles in Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Louisiana. In addition he has directed the MFA National Honors Jazz Band of America in 2010 and 2013.

Photo by Frances Scanlon