Mission Statement

The Mid-South Jazz Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization was founded in 2002 by Napolean Cassibry, David Bradford, and Tab Buford. Its stated mission is to present, preserve, develop and support jazz, especially Mid-South Jazz in all its creative complexity, historical significance and cultural richness. The foundation strongly believes that jazz has the potential to help support the creativity, multicultural diversity, harmony and all of the other elements that make a city a great place to live. We see our mission not only as a musical one, but as a civic project that we truly believe can help make a difference in the Mid-South. Jazz is something that knows no divisiveness in regard to race, age, gender or economic status.

Primary Goals

Jazz, the only original American art form and being born and raised in America is entirely in character. Jazz is a music concept based on a free spirited music form emphasizing improvisation. Jazz is all about the freedom to create. A significant bright spot in the world of jazz in the development of jazz studies in American schools, colleges and universities. There are now more programs than ever and this may motivate a stronger interest in jazz as students emerge and pursue jazz. Education is one of the more promising answers to a waning interest in jazz. But jazz education needs a boost in American schools, at all levels. Jazz education and performance is certainly lacking in the arts community in most American cities. Jazz, this singular American art form embraced across the world, needs a boost at home.

The Mid-South Jazz Foundation, working with local schools and universities and musical arts organizations, is dedicated to promoting the legacy of jazz and jazz education in the community. The Foundation has a rich history and heritage of being involved in many worthwhile initiatives since it was established.

Achievements and Awards


Two Memphians have been selected as the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Jazz Heroes” for 2015. David Bradford and Jack Schaffer, with the Mid-South Jazz Foundation, Inc., were announced as recipients of this award on April 23rd. The “Jazz Heroes” are advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local community.

The “Jazz Hero” awards, made annually on the basis of nominations from community members, are presented in conjunction with the JJA’s annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism and with the month-long celebration of JazzApril.

Lifelong Memphians, Mr. Bradford and Mr. Schaffer have helped to advance jazz music through the Mid-South Jazz Foundation. This non-profit corporation is dedicated to preserving the rich heritage of jazz in the Memphis region, improving the scene and re-establishing jazz to its rightful place in Memphis music.

Jazz education is the basic focus of the Foundation, with market awareness and acceptance of jazz performance as both art form and entertainment its primary concerns. Their longest supportive relationship is with the Jazz Studies program at the Rudi Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis and their associate dean of the department, Dr. Jack Cooper. Dr. Cooper nominated David and Jack for this award.

Bradford and Schaffer are currently involved with several organizations including the Germantown Performing Arts Center and its jazz music initiatives where Schaffer is a member of their Jazz Advisory committee. Bradford is a board member of the Beale Street Walk of Fame committee which selects and finances the program that honors area musicians, music industry executives and Beale Street historic district notables. He was specifically asked onto the committee to increase the presence of local jazz artists.

Schaffer currently serves on the Broadcast Board of Directors for U of M jazz radio station WUMR-FM, for which the Mid-South Jazz Foundation has embarked on a campaign to raise $25,000 for the replacement of aging, out of date equipment. Both gentlemen helped to supervise and finance a jazz curriculum and study guide called “Jazz for Young People, written by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis that was placed in six Memphis and Shelby County middle schools.

Mr. Bradford and Mr. Schaffer continue to expand their activities to encourage interest and momentum in Memphis for jazz music.

Current and Former Relationships and Affiliations

1. Memphis Symphony Orchestra

2. Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce

3. Performa Entertainment

4. Beale Street Merchants Association

5. Memphis Drum Shop

6. Opera Memphis

7. Germantown Performing Arts Centre

8. WURM-FM Radio

9. University of Memphis Jazz Studies Program

10. University of Memphis Libraries

11. Memphis City School System

12. Shelby County School System

13. Brooks Museum of Art

14. Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission

15. United States Postal Service

16. CD Fundraising and Production

Event History and Initiatives

Memphis Jazz Box and CD Release Party

The Foundation, working with the Memphis Regional Chamber and the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, helped develop a 3-CD box called “The Memphis Jazz Box”. The box included a 2-CD sampler of current recordings of Memphis-based artists, including Kelly Hurt, The New Memphis Hepcats, Herman Green, VooDoo Village, Carl Wolfe, Freeworld and The Memphis Jazz Orchestra. A third CD exclusively featured selections performed by the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, as directed by U of M professor Jack Cooper, director of jazz studies at the university.

Memphis Symphony Guest Jazz Artist

Assisted the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in presenting Memphis born jazz trumpeter Marvin Stamm in a program featuring both classical and jazz music. Mr. Stamm also conducted a master class in conjunction with his appearance here.

Katrina Refugee Settlement Program

Soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities, the Foundation, in partnership with the Beale Street Merchants Association, formed a committee to offer assistance to many of the displaced musicians and their families. Successful fund raising efforts enabled the committee to relocate many musicians and their families to Memphis, assisting them with housing, medical needs and jobs. Among some of the musicians that made Memphis their permanent residence were Stephen Foster and the New Orleans Jazz Ramblers and Brian “Breeze” Cayolle.

The Memphis Drum Shop

The Foundation has partnered with Mr. Jim Pettit and the Memphis Drum Shop in several events called “JAZZ FOR ST. JUDE”, hosting a wine and cheese reception and assisting with pre-show publicity. In 2006, the show featured the Memphis Jazz Orchestra, a 17 piece big band featuring vocalists Jane Melton and Tom Prestigiacomo . Proceeds went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In 2007, the Jeff Hamilton Trio appeared in two performances for the benefit of St. Jude.

Opera Memphis – “Jazz at the Opera”

The Foundation consulted with and entered into an agreement with Opera Memphis to present a series of jazz music events called “JAZZ AT THE OPERA”. There were three summertime jazz music presentations held at the Clark Opera Memphis Center in Germantown, TN. The Foundation was responsible for developing the financial and logistical responsibilities between the two organizations. The first show held in June, 2006, featured the Johnny O’Neal Trio. In July, 2006, Nashville jazz vocalist Annie Sellick appeared with local musicians Rene Koopman, Tim Goodwin and Carlton Scott. The final show in August featured the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, under the leadership of Dr. Jack Cooper and featured Nashville vocalist Sandra Dudley.

Germantown Performing Arts Centre

The Foundation, in 2007, was asked to have a representative on the newly formed Jazz Advisory Board. This group was charged with advising the Executive Director, Tania Castroverdes Moskolenko, regarding programming for GPAC that focused on jazz music and jazz artists. The mission was to create annual programs featuring well known jazz artists on the main stage and to create a venue for local and regional artists to perform in their Black Box Theater. As a result of this initiative, GPAC now features world renowned jazz artists, vocalists, and small ensemble groups as part of their main stage schedule and created a program called “Jazz in the Box”, a cabaret style venue that takes place during the months of September through April. Foundation manager Jack Schaffer, working with current Executive Director, Paul Chandler, has turned this program into a season ticket sellout for the past 7 years.

University of Memphis Scheidt School of Music & the U of M Libraries

A. WUMR-FM Radio – the U of M owns and operates this radio station that features jazz music 24/7 on FM frequency and streams worldwide on the internet. The station is part of the Communication and Fine Arts Department of the university and serves as a training facility for students majoring in broadcast journalism.

1. Annual Fund Raising – The Foundation helps to promote and underwrite two fundraising events each year, raising money to supplement its annual operation budget. Each event is held in local club venues and features artists connected to the Memphis jazz scene.

2. Broadcast Board of Directors – The University asked that the Foundation be represented on its Broadcast Board of Directors. Napoleon Cassabrie and Jack Schaffer have held that position since 2005.

B. U of M Libraries – The Foundation has partnered with and helped to underwrite the U of M Libraries in presenting public forums, live performances, and discussions about jazz music in America. The U of M Libraries was one of 50 libraries and non-profit organizations in the nation that were selected to participate in the project organized by New Media in Partnership with the American Library Association and Jazz at Lincoln Center. There have been two series presented, one in 2007 and one in 2012.

1. “Looking At: Jazz, America’s Art Form” – A seven part series presented in September through November exploring the cultural and social history of jazz as it developed as an art form in the United States.

2. “A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, 1910-1965”. A colorful Library exhibit and live performance celebrating the Jewish composers of the “American Songbook”. The live performance featured The Southern Comfort Jazz Orchestra with jazz vocalist Kathy Kosins.

C. Jazz Studies Program and Jazz Week – The Jazz Studies Curriculum offered in Jazz and Studio Music has a long and successful history and has developed one of the most comprehensive jazz music programs in the United States. The Foundation has worked with the department over the years consulting with and providing underwriting for their performances with nationally known jazz artists. The Foundation also assists the department during the year with other jazz music programs.

Memphis City Schools

Jazz in the Classroom – The Foundation, as part of its focus on jazz music education, partnered with the Memphis City Schools Department of Music and Dance, to place in 6 middle schools, a program called “Jazz in the Classroom”, a jazz music curriculum developed by the Lincoln Center for Jazz with renowned jazz trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis. This program had over 400 students learning the rich history and significance of jazz music in the United States.

Brooks Museum of Art

Jazz and Jacob Series – The Foundation partnered with the museum in a fund raising program celebrating the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930”s, featuring the art and music of African-American cultural life. The Foundation presented the Rene Koopman Trio.

United States Postal Service

Frank Sinatra Stamp Ceremony – The Foundation was invited to participate in a special dedication ceremony for the Frank Sinatra Commemorative Stamp. This event featured a special musical tribute to Frank Sinatra and testimonials that included a representative of the Foundation.

Brass notes on Beale Street

The Foundation was invited by Proforma Entertainment and the Beale Street Merchants Association to participate in the Brass Note on Beale Street program, honoring Memphis jazz musicians who have had an influence on jazz music in the mid-south. The Foundation has co-sponsored four Brass Note programs honoring Jimmy Lunceford, the Honeymoon Garnet Trio, James Williams, and Charles Lloyd. Each ceremony resulted in presenting notes with an event on Beale Street, each with a live music performance by local jazz musicians. The notes are displayed in sidewalks along Beale Street.

Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission

Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassador’s Embrace the World

The Foundation was asked to participate in an event that in included workshops and a photo exhibit of jazz artists having a great influence on jazz music in the United States. The Foundation presented a film and music power point presentation with the Jazz for

Young People program. Memphis city school teachers, students, and guests attended this free clinic held at the Hooks Library.

CD Fundraising and Production

The Mid-South Jazz Foundation, Inc., in collaboration with Dr. Jack Cooper, Associate Professor and Director of Jazz and Studio Music at the University of Memphis, has successfully completed a fund raising campaign to record and distribute a jazz music CD. Raising over $18,000 through a crowd-funding initiative, it is the largest funding effort for a music CD in Memphis. The money was raised through the host site “Indiegogo” and was completely funded in only 31 days.

The CD, called “MISTS” – The Music of Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra”, was adapted and arranged by Dr. Cooper and is being released through the Planet Arts label, a non-profit 501(c) (3) company as part of a series of recordings called “Documentation of American Music Initiative” (DoAM). Dr. Cooper arranged and orchestrated the music and conducted a 17 piece jazz orchestra that features 8 tracks of Ives’ American classical music. Ives was an American modernist composer and is one of the first American composers of international renown, having been compared to Copeland, Bernstein, Barber, Gershwin and Ellington.

The Mid-South Jazz Foundation, Inc., also a non-profit 501 (c) (3), was instrumental in the success of this initiative, consulting with Dr. Cooper to provide the structure of and resources for the fund raising campaign. Foundation founder David Bradford along with his partner Jack Schaffer, both reiterated that “Dr. Cooper accomplished high artistic quality with his orchestrations and the personnel to execute them, so the bar was set high from the onset. We had to come up with a unique format of videos and other structural components to stimulate generous contributions in order to make it happen. It worked! “Mists” was released in August 2014, received international critical acclaim and was a Grammy nominee for 2014 Balloting.

The Mid-South Jazz Foundation has worked with Dr. Cooper over the years, having assisted him with the annual Jazz Week programs at the U of M, the American Library Association series about the history of Jazz music, and a CD release event that featured the music of Cole Porter with the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta.