Jazz: A True Representation of Democracy

PresidentS' letters

What’s up everybody, Sean Jones. And this is my final message as president of the Jazz Education Network. Here I am on this last day as president and I’m reflecting on the entire journey that we’ve been through together over the past few years. 


Boy, when Mary Jo approached me about being president a few years ago I had so many ideas. I wanted to expand the membership, I wanted to bring different light to JEN and just sort of open the doors up to new possibilities for the organization. Little did I know that I would become known as the “COVID President”, being tasked to lead the organization through arguably some of the most trying times of our lives. 


I have to say that I’ve learned a lot, but, I would say that the thing that I learned the most during my time as president is that the United States in this country truly is a representation of e pluribus unum — out of many, one.


And I’m reminded of the words that my good friend JB Dyas told me a few years ago. Actually, he was speaking to an entire audience of folks in a jazz informance. And he said that jazz music is the greatest representation of democracy because it affords the opportunity, or allows for, individual freedom, but with respect to the group. It affords the opportunity for individual freedom, but with respect to the group.


Now, over this time as president, there are a lot of folks that, you know, I’ve received a lot of messages from regarding different places or different stances that the organization would make regarding a myriad of social issues. And I have to say, and I’m reminded, that we live in a huge pool and confluence of humanity in this country. Folks think this way; folks think that way; folks bring this to the table, they bring that to the table. And sometimes those ideas war with one another. I don’t know, maybe I’m just crazy enough to believe that we can work out those differences. We can agree to disagree and we can still make music together representing the true notion and ideas that the folks that founded this country we’re thinking about. Even though they may not have been thinking about some of us, the ideas still stands. And as the first black president of JEN, it’s a black man facing all of those issues, I still believe in spite of the things that separate us, I believe, and that notion that we can all meet together and find common ground. And I would challenge and charge the entire membership of JEN to keep that in mind– that this music is truly the greatest representation of democracy.


Because you can be as free as you want, but with respect to the group; other folks’ ideas, no matter what those ideas are, even if they just, even if you disagree with them. Now, obviously some ideas that we have in this country are not advantageous to forward motion. And we have to address those as well. When people’s rights are being taken away from them, when people are being treated as second class citizens, no matter what they are, the music represents that for freedom. 


So it’s important for us to begin and continue to come together, and use the music and the unity that is within the music to portray that. 

When I get on stage, oftentimes I have no idea who I’m performing with, but I do know one thing. That we can all find that common ground on the blues, or on some familiar form, that we all negotiate together to rise above our individual differences and ideas so that we can collectively form a sound that speaks to the totality of the human experience.


And that is my wish for JEN. I truly do hope that we’re able to face all of our challenges as human beings together, that we can express our thoughts, our ideas, our differences, while still making beautiful music together. 


I look forward to the future of the organization and I’ll still be here with you. Let’s keep in mind that jazz is just that the greatest representation of democracy and the true reflection of out of many, one.


but we got to do this together, Y’all. 

And I stand with you. 

Let’s keep doing it.


Much love,


Sean Jones

charlotte lang

Swiss/Dutch saxophonist Charlotte Lang was born in 1996 in Basel and studied the bachelor and master program at the JAZZCAMPUS Basel under the guidance of Domenic Landolf and Daniel Blanc. She is currently studying the Master of Music in Global Jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston under the artistic direction of Danilo Pérez. In addition she is part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.


From 2015 to 2018, Charlotte she was a member of the Swiss National Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Christian Muthspiel. Since 2020, she became a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Bundesjazzorchester Deutschland), under the direction of Niels Klein and Ansgar Striepens. She also plays is the Austrian FJO (Frauen Jazz Orchester→Women Jazz Orchestra of Austria).


In 2021, Charlotte founded her own Quintet the „Charlotte Lang Group“, for what she is composing, arranging and booking. In the fall 2023, her first album will be recorded and hopefully released by a renowned label.


Charlotte plays in the “Swiss Jazz Orchestra” and the “Zurich Jazz Orchestra”, the two professional Big Bands of Switzerland.

Charlotte recently got the unique opportunity to write a monthly blog for the Swiss Jazz & Blues Magazine called JAZZTIME, to tell readers about her time at abroad and specifically her time at Berklee. Her graduate program lasts only until the summer of 2023. She hopes to stay in the United States to enlarge her network and build her musical career.