Dayton musician-teacher fosters jazz through performance, education



April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Following the example of his many contemporaries, trumpeter Chris Braun is focused on keeping jazz alive through live performance and music education.

The Ft. Wayne, Indiana native leads the local jazz combo Innovation, which performs in trio, quartet or quintet configurations. He is also a member of several other groups, including Mad River Brass Quintet and Elvis tribute Ryan Roth & the Comeback Special.

Braun, who received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and master’s degree from Wright State University, teaches at Sinclair Community College and Edison State Community College. He recently offered his opinions on the current state of jazz.

Finding common ground: “One of the reasons we’re big in education is because jazz is no longer at the forefront of music. It was a little bit in the ‘60s but it was fading pretty fast. It was more art music at that time and we’re trying to initiate people about jazz. First, you have to find out what kind of music they like. You have to say, ‘Hey, you like hip-hop. Well, you know it has roots through jazz. It kind of started from the grooves and the feel of jazz. That’s kind of how they developed that.’ You can’t (attract) people if you come at them and say, ‘Jazz is better than this or that.’ That turns them off.”

Check out a sample of Chris Braun’s Innovation Trio live at North Star Coffee Station:

Seeking instant gratification: “Even though you can find so much music online, a lot of young people don’t have the attention span to even listen to jazz. With social media and other distractions, it’s like a microwave society. A lot of orchestras are struggling with the same kind of problem. People just aren’t getting the interest in music and that’s because our attention spans are so short. They’ll sit through a three-hour sporting event, but they won’t even attend a one-hour concert. A lot of that has to do with music not being appreciated.”

Global musical bond: “There is so much connection to other music. Country music influenced jazz. Blues influenced jazz. You have to educate people on how all of this music is connected. Jazz is so important in developing music, not only in the United States but worldwide. People learned jazz and took it to their countries. That’s how the music evolved. It’s not the other way around.”

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