The academic year is nearing its end at the New School's undergraduate Jazz and Contemporary Music Program, where students in master trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah's Sun Ra Ensemble class slowly gather, some evoking the spirit of Ra by brandishing and striking conga drums as they enter the room. Ahmed begins by playing a recording of an in-studio performance the students did at WBAI, then solicits comments. "We sound good!" someone offers, to much laughter. What follows seems mundane: Ahmed leads a discussion on the real-world lessons learned from the experience of setting up, doing the recording, and handling interviews, along with additional tidbits gleaned from a foray to the elementary school where he teaches. But this seemingly inconsequential transference from mentor-figure to student lies at the very heart of what many jazz programs are... More >>>