The Rebellious Beauty: A Master Class with Jerome Jennings Jazz
Drummer, Educator, Activist
By Jeneanne Collins
I recently interviewed Mr. Jerome Jennings about jazz, his upcoming projects,
his commitment to black people and humanity.
"I'm not scared
"he states, I want to be a part of the continuum". He paused for a moment in thought, "Legacy's are a sense
I watch Jerome Jennings energetically and excitingly
share his knowledge, history, and achievements with confidence. He is open, honest, and authentic with the musicians and
students from The Peabody Institute. He encourages them to dig deeper, to find their core, and and to create authentic music
from their true history, hearts and souls. He wants them to address the good, the bad, and the ugly.
"You can't remove the key elements from swing or jazz and call it that, Jerome says. "Let
it be what it is. Look within and find yourself, lose yourself, and then find yourself again" he states.
Jerome Jennings is a jazz drummer. He was educated at Rutgers's and Julliard and has
traveled the world with many artists including Sonny Rollins and Christian McBride.
He is a connoisseur, novice, and a truth seeker. He is concerned about the preservation and future of jazz
music, the narrative, the people and the story. He is concerned about interpretation and critical analysis and dilution of
"The roots of jazz music are important ."
he says. He shares knowledge as a leader, as a student and humble historian. In every portion of the master class he pays
homage to those jazz musicians that came before him including Louie Armstrong, Count Basie, and Roy Hargrove .
"Be a side man before you become a leader" he states advising the students
on their careers.
He continued on sharing more of his journey about
his experiences with some of the "Greats of Jazz" and being schooled to play and accept criticism as a musician.
"You gotta be okay with setting your hurt and pride aside," states Jennings.
"This is not a hundred yard race.It's a marathon against yourself".
In his 2016 release, entitled "The Beast", he creates a response through his music to some of the races
and injustices that he experience in his life. He tackles police brutality and oppression with his soles, his sticks, and
the heart beats of the ancestors. Jerome Jennings shares his interpretation of change from his rendition of "New Edition's
"Cool It Now" to the hollow guts of life on "The Beast" to the open spaces of hope in "New Beginning".
He weaves pain and power with his special interpretation through music. He translates many lives lost by unwarranted violence.
"We have to document our stories" he states
Jerome Jennings recently shared a story through his drum and through the jazz. He
documented Senator Stephanie Flowers, recent viral video of her speaking about gun law debate in Arkansas. (Stand Your Ground).
She spoke about fears for her son, other black men, children and the attack on African- American people.
"I wanted badly to be in the room with her, to have her back" Jerome says.
He created the music/video from her visual, the smugness of the room, her strength, her courage and the hurt in her voice.
"Look for your contribution. I felt it in my soles, it came through my feet. I created this piece to show ‘Solidarity'
"Solidarity" is his next contribution. This new body
of music will be released November 8, 2019. It extensively explores the LGBTQ community, #BlackLivesMatter, politics, and
the oppression of Black women. This project is poetic, painful, and inspiring. It is a rare gem that explores the pedagogy
of the oppressed with high sensitivity and the core of jazz. "If we don't address it, we can't move forward" Jerome
Jerome Jennings is documenting, addressing, and uplifting
his people. He plays the drum to preserve the "Souls of Black Folk". He plays for the suffering and misunderstood
communities, abandonment, stereotypes and ignorance. He finds a way to transform feelings of pain to faith and healing through
"Pick up the music and play it in your instrument"
This is truly the Master Class of Life Music with
~ ~ ~
"The Rebellious Beauty" column is written by Baltimore Stylist and
Make-up Expert Jeneanne Collins. Email comments to Collins at JeneanneCollins@hotmail.com. You can follow her on Twitter and
Facebook at @JenenneCollins and Instagram @rebelliousbeautystyle.