LEAF Delta House Jazz Band

In 2019, the Band will continue on in new ways at The Delta House. This has been a great partnership, and we wish them all LEAF Love on a new journey.

“The more you learn about culture and differences, the more peace you will bring into this world.” – LEAF International New Orleans Culture Keeper, Chief Shaka Zulu, during the band’s NOLA trip March 2017

Program Overview


LEAF Delta House Jazz Band is

Since 2011, the Jazz group has expanded and grown. Our community partner, Delta House Life Development of Asheville, Inc., is so thrilled with the progress the kids have made. “The difference this program has made is beyond words” says Sheila Edwards, Delta House staffer and lead supporter. “These kids are more inspired to stay in school and they KNOW they can be successful- it’s all thanks to jazz and Mr. B.” Mr. Gary Bradley, Master Teaching Artist and Sam Irvin, Resident Teaching Artist, teach the youth three times a week to make the biggest impact and create the best chance to learn music skills. Some kids have only been coming for less than two months and others have been coming since it started. LEAF has made 100% IMPACT.

Meet the Teaching Artists!


 Gary hails from the New England area where he began his music education and saxophone studies. He studied at Housatonic College and played R&B, top 40 and jazz in the New England area. Gary continued his education at LACC and in private study in Los Angeles. He has played with Ray Charles, Dolly Parton and James Ingram.

 “The discipline they get from music, they can always apply to their life, that’s my goal with all of them. Have some fun, learn some discipline.” – Gary Bradley





Samuel S. Irvin IV was born close to Asheville in Brevard, NC before relocating to attend college at UNCA, completing a Jazz and Philosophy double major in 2013. The next year, he began teaching at Asheville Music School, having an affinity for music theory, composition and direction. In 2015, Sam began working at Moog Music, in an effort to broaden his understanding of the technology-related aspects of music. His interest in cross-disciplined analysis of the world provides him with constant amazement at the myriad perspectives that music can be framed in (i.e. Theoretical, psychological, historical, cultural, etc.)

“In Physics, every sound is defined by four characteristics: duration, pitch, timbre and intensity. This is just some of the uniqueness of music.” – Sam Irvin IV

Cultural Exchange October 2017

LEAF International Guatemala & LEAF International Rwanda

Visit Delta House!

Visiting Culture Keepers from LEAF International Guatemala and LEAF International Rwanda stopped by Delta House the week before Fall Festival to share their cultural traditions and learn what jazz music culture is all about. All groups showcased their art forms and conversed about life in their respective countries creating young global citizens in the heart of Asheville.



“Even though we can’t speak the same language, music is a universal language, so we understand eachother.” -Pepe, LEAF International Guatemala Teaching Artists



“I will continue to travel because people need to know about my history. I am Rwandan and our history can change the way people view the world.” -David Kwizera, LEAF International Rwanda Culture Keeper

2017 Musical Journey to NOLA


LEAF Delta House Jazz Band is

In the wee morning of March 19, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band hopped on a bus from South French Broad Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina to the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. The musical journey took them through historical New Orleans sights and sounds, master classes with infamous jazz bands young and old, and deep discussions about Mardi Gras Indian culture with Chief Shaka Zulu. This bi-annual trip awakens the young musicians to the power of jazz and reaffirms their commitment to the art while allowing them an immersive experience to new cultures and landscapes.
Special #LEAFLove to our friends in New Orleans for all the support and love on this journey! And THANK YOU to all the donors who made this trip possible!
“I feel like I have a lot to learn. At Preservation Hall, the trumpet player inspired me because he was playing really good.” – Daylon

 Preservation Hall All-Stars | “Breathe, young people. Breathe” were words of wisdom from trumpet player, Wendell. The private masterclass featured jazz songs and an intensive discussion about chords, notes and rhythmic meter. To top off an already exciting lifetime experience, Tanaeja was gifted musical necktie from Louis (all-star clarinet player) with the reminder to “keep playing, keep breathing and keep smiling


“We got to play with them! Being in the small groups was intense but helps us learn more. I played a solo in front of the whole group of 30 kids…I felt like a musician. It feels good to feel like a musician.” Reggie
Trombone Shorty Music Academy | “That’s what it’s about, changing young lives and supporting musicians”, said artistic director, Edward Lee Jr. As soon as the instruments came out of their cases, LEAF students were instructed to jump right in!  Breaking out into specialized groups by instruments, they learned a new song and then reconnected with the larger group to play in unison for a truly dynamic convergence of sound! Jazz on!


“I learned that you have to teach kids the culture or the culture will die. I’d like to learn the way he sews on the beads and make a suit one day.”  Regianna

Mardi Gras Indian Culture | “When you read and travel, that’s equivalent to reading 10 books..” stated Chief Shaka Zulu (of Yellow Pocahontas tribe). The students hit the streets with cultural exchange opportunities with Chief Shaka at St. Joseph’s Day Parade in the heart of NOLA, Congo Square-Louis Armstrong Park & a finale workshop at Golden Feather. March on!


2015 Musical Journey to NOLA

???????????????????????????????How many young jazz artists get to be with the masters of jazz in Preservation Hall and play their instrument? The second bi-annual LEAF Delta House Jazz Musical Journey to NOLA was extraordinary! Stepping beyond your comfort and community opens doors to the world and understanding.

The dedicated teaching artists, Gary Bradley and Katie Oaks, empower the young artists through the art of jazz; however, life skills, cultural competence, teamwork, and a safe nurturing environment create a holistic platform of arts education that complements the jazz. Over the years, we have watched the students grow in music along with their reading scores, behavior and self-esteem. Music works!

On the rainy morning of March 19th, the LEAF Delta House Jazz band hit the road to New Orleans – the city of jazz. Pure excitement and anticipation floated through the air as we loaded vans with 11 young jazz musicians. Most of these students do not have access to jazz music traditions and have not travelled far beyond Asheville. The shared cultural connections to the African American communities in NOLA have the kids excited to learn more about their history. Together, we traveled down the jazzy road to experience the spirit of NOLA music and heritage culture.???????????????????????????????

2013 Jazzy New Orleans Trip

LSSJazzNolaStatuespIn 2013, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band embarked upon a journey to the heart of jazz music and cultural traditions, in the city of New Orleans, where jazz was born. The blossoming musicians spent spring break performing at the historic Congo Square Festival, sharpening their skills with a master class at Preservation Hall and later dancing to a live performance performed by their mentors. 

The LEAF Delta House band opened the festival to a crowd of cheers and later witnessed the infamous Battle of the Bands, a second line competition of area middle and high school musicians judged by legendary jazz musicians, including Preservation Hall’s Ben Jaffe.

A bus tour of New Orleans led the jazz band to the House of Dance and Feathers in the Lower 9thWard, where they learned about Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the residents of New Orleans. Museum founder and Mardi Gras Indian, Ronald Lewis shared his story of his winning struggle to preserve the history and culture of New Orleans to an awe-stricken and appreciative crowd. 

Thanks to the amazing support from the LEAF community, The LEAF Delta House Jazz Band has returned from their Spring Break trip to the Big Easy, where they had the AMAZING opportunity to learn from the Grammy Award winning Preservation Hall Jazz Band and perform at the historic Congo Square Festival!


Grassroots Arts Program Grant: 

This project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural ResourceAAAC_Logo_2017

LEAF Delta House Jazz Band Highlights

Check it out below!


In March, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band embarked on a Musical Journey to New Orleans, Louisiana.The musical journey took them through historical New Orleans sights and sounds, master classes with infamous jazz bands young and old, and deep discussions about Mardi Gras Indian culture with Chief Shaka Zulu. This bi-annual trip awakens the young musicians to the power of jazz and reaffirms their commitment to the art while allowing them an immersive experience to new cultures and landscapes.


Begining in the fall semester, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band officially welcomed longtime Parent Coordinator, Cornelia “Cornbread” McNeil as the new resident band drummer.

Visiting Culture Keepers from LEAF International Rwanda & LEAF International Guatemala visit Delta House before Fall LEAF Festival to share their cultural traditions and hear from the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band members what their experience is like living and playing jazz in the heart of Asheville.





In January, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band headed down to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Honda Battle of the Bands. The event was crated to “celebrate, support and recognize the excellence of Black college marching bands and the unique academic experience offered by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).” Also, in August the group also was given the opportunity to headline the Goombay Festival in downtown Asheville.

Throughout the year, the LEAF Delta House Jazz Band received visits from 3 LEAF International programs, Bequia, Haiti & Tanzania. They were able to perform for one another and have an authentic and natural cultural exchange.


The young jazz artists take their seats across from the masters of Jazz in the historic rustic Preservation Hall, one of the icons of jazz across the world. The setting is intimate, dark, and you feel the decades of powerful jazz sets. The LEAF Delta House Jazz Band takes the stage by showing Preservation hall all that they have learned about jazz over the past year. We were all grateful for the magical musical journey that we were experiencing. The kids are still jazzing from their music workshop experience, and the masters reminded them “Don’t stop playing!”


LEAF Delta House Jazz partners with the UNCA Jazz Band to learn about the local music program at UNCA and hear young adult mentors play jazz. LEAF Delta Jazz Band partners with the LEAF Delta House Drummers and other Delta House youth to record their own song in honor of the Delta House. LEAF Delta House Jazz Band members visit Echo Mountain recording studio and sit in on a band recording their own album.

LEAF Delta House Jazz play at several events such as LAAFF, LEAF Festivals, and a fundraiser for Open Doors.


The LEAF Delta House Jazz Program partners with 5 Walnut and plays several Wednesdays at this local Wine Bar to raise funds and awareness for their upcoming field trip to New Orleans. Matt Logan, owner of 5 Walnut, commits to raising funds for the band and donates his own saxophone to a LEAF Delta House Jazz player. Students Khaliq Moore and Matt Young are awarded instrument ownership due to their dedication and commitment of both practice and mastery.

March 2013

The LEAF Delta House Jazz Band takes a field trip to New Orleans! The band plays an opening set at the Congo Square Festival, learns the history and culture of New Orleans and attends a master class at the Preservation Hall.

Summer 2013

Summer classes are held to continue the skills learned by the youth, and in the Fall of 2013, the band starts meeting three times a week, thanks to the funding of the Hanes Grant.


The LEAF Delta House Jazz Program opens for The Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the May LEAF Festival. Connecting with Ben Jaffe, the band is invited to New Orleans to take a master class with the band. 13 Youth are involved in the program.


LEAF Klondyke Jazz Program starts in the spring in Klondyke Housing Center with teaching artist, Gary Bradley, and mentor Logan Murray. Meeting once a week, up to 11 youth of varying ages are involved in this pilot program funded by the Dan Lucas Memorial Fund.

Starting in the Fall of 2011, the LEAF Jazz Program with Gary Bradley and Logan Murray relocates to partner with Delta House and becomes LEAF Delta House Jazz. The Delta House Life Development of Asheville, Inc. is a non-profit after school program located on S. French Broad. This valuable community partnership with Delta House allows for consistent attendance and an increase in the number of classes to twice a week. This program also offers homework assistance and other enrichment opportunities.



 Thank You!    

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” – Dalai Lama

A very special thank you to all the individual donors who made it possible for our LEAF Delta House Jazz Band young musicians to go to NOLA without the burden of expenses. Thank you to all of our LEAF friends and family in New Orleans for opening up their city to us and thank you to Burial Brewery for partnering with us to create the special Shallow Water Kolsh in the name of Chief Shaka Zulu to benefit the LEAF Feather Fund!

“Sharing the experience of the kids learning from some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world while we were in New Orleans was inspiring and surreal. To be a part of making that experience happen is why we partnered with LEAF International. Culture is experience, it is community and it is people. Together that is all very powerful but without an organization like LEAF connecting the dots for younger people, it can get lost in translation. Seeing those dots connected first hand in New Orleans, only solidified in my mind, the great work LEAF is doing for our community and communities around the world.” – Jessica Reiser, Burial Brewery

 Thank You!  Gracias! Merci!  for Support over the Years! 

Duke Energy, Mark Fogas, Sarah Nie, John Cram, Hedy Fischer, Sherrye & Anthony Coggiola, Robert Todd, Wren London, Dini & Chuck Pickering, Gena Crow, Tommy George, Danielle D Stiles, Jim Lauzon, Ami Worthen, Elizabeth McDonough, Erica Bell, Lael Gray, Jennifer Griffin, Richard Olejniczak, Jodi Rhoden, Kate Henry, Jody Whitehurst, Ashley Cooper, Laura Grantmyre, Stacey Bailey, Russ Wheelock, Nancy Cain, Mary Kenemer, Scott Dedman, Lee and Wendy Mulcrone, and everyone else who showed their support!