this site will be moving to a new location in the near future. When it becomes available, these pages will not exist and only a link to the new site will be listed.


You have found the Jazz Foundation of Memphis web pages!

What is this web site all about?

This is about  jazz!

America's classical music - in MEMPHIS!

Lincoln Center - the home of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and New Your City Ballet - now has year-round jazz programming. The Smithsonian in Washington has expanded its jazz program with a resident orchestra. The United States Congress recently declared jazz a "rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support, and resources..."

Atlanta has a world-class jazz series. So do Charlotte, Hartford, San Francisco and most other major cities. In fact, since 1985, we have had the World Class Jazz Series, presented by World Class Jazz Productions. It has produced the Jazz Masters Series, several Legends of Jazz  Series, and many other concerts-all together 87-by the world's premier musicians like Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, Diane Schuur and Milt Jackson.

The differences between the major jazz programs in those cities and here is that there they are funded by government, corporations, etc. In Memphis, World Class Jazz has tried to rely exclusively on ticket sales. That does not work in other cities, and does not work anywhere for the symphony, the opera, the ballet, theatre, etc. Or for our series, as I have learned the hard way - by losing money.



Therefore, the Jazz Foundation of Memphis, a private, non-profit corporation was formed to find financial support for a program that has made a real contribution to the arts of Memphis.

Why fund a jazz series in Memphis? The answer is why subsidize the symphony, the opera, the ballet. Jazz, as we have said, is America's classical music; it is recognized around the world as the fine-arts music of this country. As such, it deserves a prominent place in the hierarchy of the arts that compose the cultural ambiance of great cities.

But there is another equally cogent reason for supporting serious jazz. Jazz is an integral part of that pre-eminently marketable and very varied Memphis music spectrum, The Memphis Sound. In fact, more jazz musicians from Memphis - at least 10 - are at this moment internationally acclaimed than any other kind. One, George Coleman, is considered one of the five greatest living saxophonists; another, the late Phineas Newborn, perhaps the greatest pianist of all time.

So if I have convinced you to think a little about jazz, and perhaps to listen to some, or more, of America's national treasure, a world-recognized art form, you don't have to go to New York to hear the best. The World Class Jazz Series is here. And we are planning a national jazz festival.

But to continue to fulfill its mission of bringing true jazz greats to Memphis, as well as presenting local artists and producing educational seminars for listeners, it must, like similar programs in other cities, have funding.

Membership in the Jazz Foundation of Memphis is a way for both individuals and corporations to help this American treasure to prosper in Memphis.

                                                   Irwin Sheft
                                                   Founder and Producer
                                                   World Class Jazz Series

For more information, contact Irwin Sheft at