To riff on a popular lyric, "Jazz is lovelier the second time around."
At least it has been for members of the Unified Jazz Ensemble, who have been in Decorah for the last five days. The UJE lived in Decorah from late August f 1992 through May of 1994 as part of a residency funded by the National Endowment for Arts.
UJE member Mike Noonan remembers that as a great time--after an initial period of adjustment. "It took a little bit f time," Noonan remembers, saying Decorah residents weren't quite sure what to make of a jazz group in their midst at first. But the group worked extensively with students at John Cline, West Side, Decorah Middle School and Decorah High School. And the kids became the "doorway" to wider community acceptance, says Noonan.
From that residency grew ghreat opportunities to listen and learn about jazz. That led to today's situation, where jazz is an important part of the music programs in both the Decorah School District and at Luther College.
"I'm thrilled," says Noonan of the growth in local jazz groups. He says students he's met this week have been knowledgeable and enthusiastic. "It's gratifying," he says.
The community as a whole seems more vibrant now than it did 19 years ago, says Noonan. "There's more bustle to it," says Noonan, who says he's glad that UJE had a role in adding to what is happening in Decorah.