Mari Mennel-Bell, JazzSLAM's Educator/pianist and
The History of JazzSLAM
Mari Mennel-Bell holds a dual Masters degree in Elementary Education (K-6) and Music Education (K-12) from New York University and a Masters degree in Social Work from Adelphi University. While living in New York City she worked for The Children's Television Workshop as a researcher and as an independent consultant on "Using Music to Teach Reading". She worked at P.S. 1 in the South Bronx in a Title 1 program designed to use music and lyric writing to motivate students with low reading scores. While living in New Paltz, NY she was a clinical social worker at The Child & Family Guidance Center.
Mari relocated to Fort Lauderdale at the beginning of the school year 1998-99. At that time she had a child in a Broward County elementary school, one in middle and one in high school. As she observed their challenges to stay focused on academics, she was inspired to create an experiential, hands-on approach to academic skills. JazzSLAM, the acronym for Jazz Supports Language Arts & Math, is a program that uses students' interest in music to help them understand the inherent underlying structures found also in language arts and math. JazzSLAM is Broward County School Board approved and meets the Florida Sunshine State/Common Core Standards for Education. (Broward County is the 6th largest school district in the nation.)
Mari has received 2014-2017 Herb Alpert Foundation grants from JEN (Jazz Education Network), and was a clinician at the national 2015 JEN Conference in San Diego. In 2014 she inaugurated JazzSLAM's 3 Session eLearning project in collaboration with the Broward County Board of Ed TV station, BECON TV! She also began a Facebook JazzSLAM page, for up to the minute info on eLearning & in-school presentations.
Mari was a "For Good" 2012 awards honoree for The Community Foundation of Broward. She was the honoree at Dillard Center for the Arts Jazz Ensemble 2013 Gala. In the past 13 years JazzSLAM has offered presentations to over 40,000 students in both public and private schools. JazzSLAM's in-school program is a part of The Gold Coast Jazz Society. She has also given presentations for teachers. In 2004, the Broward County Board of Education selected Mari for a 6 week, 5 days a week, Artist in Residency grant at Seminole Middle School. During this time, she used West Side Story to teach JazzSLAM concepts to "at risk" and ESOL students. The Residency culminated in a production that included original songs by the students. In the school year 2003-04 she was under contract with the Broward County Parks & Recreation Department and taught JazzSLAM concepts in 18 after-school sites. Through a grant from JAMS (Jazz Art Music Society of the Palm Beaches) she brought a 6 week program to Toussaint L'Ouverture High School, an "F" rated school in Palm Beach County. The Artist in Residence program taught essay form through lyric writing to "at risk" HS students.
Mari was Director of Education for South Florida Jazz. She has worked extensively as a solo pianist/singer and quartet leader. Currently she does duo and quintet work with Scott St. John and the Red Eye Band, and plays piano for the Beach Combers on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. She was a member of the world drumming group Mondo Vibe, performing on African djembe drum at various cultural centers throughout the Northeastern States and South Florida. The group performed at the 2001 Hollywood Jazz Festival. While living in New York City she had her Actor's Equity card and performed in various musical theater productions.
Mari brings a unique combination of skills and perspectives to the educational arena. JazzSLAM presentations provide a lively and educationally stimulating experience for both students and faculty.
JazzSLAM's Guitarist/Lead Vocalist
Bill Coleman is our most recent member, replacing Bob Hanni, who retired after 13 years. We've had our eye on Bill for the past 7 years, as the perfect fit to complete our quartet. He brings super talents, a sense of fun and gracious southern hospitality to the group! While living in Kentucky, Bill often gave jazz presentations in schools, and looks forward to working with our students. Bill returned to South Florida in 1997 and began performing at the Chesterfield Hotel in Palm Beach where he is still today. Bill also currently performs at Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton. He can also be seen with a variety of bands in the area such as "The Kelly Twins Duo", "The Party Dogs Band" and "Fifth Avenue Party Band". Bill has taught guitar to groups of 30 elementary school students at Citrus Cove Elementary in Boynton Beach and Golden Grove Elementary in West Palm Beach, Florida.
JazzSLAM's Bass Player
Don Mosley has traveled the United States and Europe performing with such greats as Milt Jackson, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Bobby Durham, Al Gray, and Roberta Flack. His interest in music was encouraged by his father, a musician himself, who played with W.C. Handy. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Don received his early musical training at the Settlement Music School and the Philadelphia Music Academy, where he was fortuante enough to study with the great Cellist Pablo Casals, and famed composer Samuel Barber. Don additionally obtained his degree in History/Secondary Education from Cheyney State College.
After moving to South Florida from Philly, Don started Don Mosley Productions in an effort to advance the community's exposure to the art of music and to help the area gain recognition as an entertainment capital of the world. He provided entertainment for President Reagan at Paula Hawkins' campaign fund raiser and for the visiting Governors of France; Kenya's Ambassador to the U.S., the gala opening of the Miami Design District, Art Deco weekend, various conventions and tourist events, and numerous Jazz Festivals.
Don then formed the Don Mosley Jazz All-Stars which consists of world renown artists who have joined together to deliver to South Florida some of the very finest in listening enjoyment. The members of the group have performed in the company of Dizzy Gillespie, Robert Goulet, Lionel Hampton, Frank Sinatra, and Count Basie.
In 2013, Don was inducted into the South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame. It is an honor to have such an illustrious musician as part of the JazzSLAM team. He dazzles and inspires JazzSLAM students with his creative and always funky bass lines.
Orlando Machado completes our intergenerational, multicultural JazzSLAM quartet. Born in Santa Clara, Cuba and raised in Miami,Florida, Orlando's percussive talents became apparent at an early age while playing rhythms on pots and pans. His parents bought him his first drum kit by the age of seven, and he expanded his new-found talent at such prestigious music schools as PAVAC (Performing and Visual Arts Center), and New World School of the Arts. He also received full music scholarships at Miami Dade Community College and Florida International University. Soon after his debut as a professional drummer, he was asked to perform in various world-wide music festivals. In addition to his constant freelance work in the South Florida area, Orlando has worked with such esteemed international artists as Francisco Cespedes,Two Live Crew, Sammy Figeroa, Thalia, Mongo Santamaria,Jr, Jose Luis Rodriguez (El Puma), John Davidson, Cachao, Enrique Chia, Foxy, Raul Di Blasio, Tito Punte Jr.,The Platters, Julio Sabala, Sophie, The Drifters, Mirta Medina, Marcelino Valdes, Warner Brothers Television, Flor DeLoto, Vanessa Formell. His work has been displayed in national jingles, television spots and films. He currently runs his own full production recording studio Big O Productions, where he tracks live sessions, produces, arranges, and mixes demos and songs for artists. His charisma, awesome feel, and fun-loving personality make him a great addition to the JazzSLAM quartet! See Orlando at www.soundofvision.com
Lois Saint Surin is the newest member of the JazzSLAM team. A recent retiree from IBM, she came to us through Gold Coast Jazz Society.
She has offered her technological expertise through organizing our teacher evaluation forms and demographic forms into easily readable spreadsheets, helping with our SEAS bookings, and most recently revamping our website. Thank you, Lois, for donating so much of your valuable time and expertise to JazzSLAM!