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 will be presenting a clinic on JazzSLAM at the November 2018 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) conference in Dallas. Mari has received 2014-2018 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. Recently Mari's swing jazz quintet has performed at the Peck Courtyard of the Broward Center for Performing Arts as part of the JM Lexus Riverwalk Jazz Brunch and the historic Olympia Theater's Jazz in the Lobby series. She also 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 culture 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 Newest Bass Player

Senegal Apostolo is our newest JazzSLAM team member, replacing the great Don Mosely. Senegal has been fueled by the power of music his whole life. A graduate of Florida International University's music school, he has experience playing Jazz, Funk, Reggae, Pop, Neo-Soul and various ofther genres. Senegal is an established player on the South Florida live music scene, gigging frequently throughout venues in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach County. His musical abilities have led him to play with many notable artists, as well as in locations such as New York and Suriname, where he performed as a headliner in the 2014 Suriname Jazz Festival. He also played in the 2017 Miami Jazz Festival. Senegal loves sharing his passion for music with his students and believes that music is the one true way to find yourself and know your heart.

JazzSLAM's Guitarist/Lead Vocalist

Bill Coleman brings super talents and a sense of fun and gracious southern hospitality to the JazzSLAM group! While living in Kentucky, Bill often gave jazz presentations in schools, and enjoys 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 Drummer

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

JazzSLAM's Volunteer

Lois Saint Surin came to us through Gold Coast Jazz Society after her retirement from IBM. 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!