2014 Jazz Heroes

The Jazz Journalists Association is pleased to announce the 2014 Jazz Heroes: advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities. 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.

 1. Atlanta: Joseph Jennings
 2. Baltimore: Dr. John R. Lamkin II
 3. Bloomington IN: Janis Stockhouse
 4. Boston: Emilio Lyons
 5. Chicago: Jennifer Johnson Washington
 6. Columbia MO: Jon  W. Poses
 7. Detroit: Bill Foster
 8. Durham NC: Larry Reni Thomas
 9. Kingston NY: Peggy Stern
10. Kingston NY: John Bilotti
11. Litchfield CT: Vita West Muir
12. New Orleans: Harold Battiste
13. New York: Meghan Stabile
14. Newark: Cephas Bowles
15. Pittsburgh: Bill Strickland
16. Portland OR: Thara Memory
17. Portland OR: Wayne Thompson
18. SF Bay Area: Faye Carol
19. Santa Cruz CA: Raymond Brown
20. Schenectady NY: Thomas Pierce
21. Seattle: Jim Wilke
22. Tallahassee: Geraldine Seay
23. Toronto: Patrick Taylor
24: Washington DC: Bobby Hill

Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to all the 2014 Jazz Heroes.
The Heroes will receive their awards at public events in their communities. Details will be posted here as we confirm them.

Joseph Jennings

2014 Atlanta Jazz Hero

Just retired coordinator of the Jazz Studies Track at Spelman College, alto saxophonist Joseph Jennings is responsible for having launched the largest and most acclaimed all-female college jazz festival in the United States. Instituting the Kenyetta Festival of Women in Jazz, as he did in 2007, would in itself make Joe an appropriate candidate for Jazz Hero. But of course there’s more.

During his 30-year teaching career Joe has been a valued faculty member at Clark College, Mississippi Valley State College and Morehouse besides Spelman. He’s toured and performed with Johnny Taylor, Duke Pearson, Clifford Jordan, Muhal Richard Abrams, Freddie Waits, The Temptations, The Four Tops and Nancy Wilson. He’s been director of music at the Atlanta Center for Black Art, and artist-in residence at Atlanta’s Neighborhood Arts Center. He was the founder and director of the Neighborhood Arts Ensemble, a 22-piece big band; leader of the Joe Jennings Sextet; founder and director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Ensemble, and co-founder/director with fellow saxophonist Howard Nicholson of Life Force, featured at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1991.

Joe has directed the Atlanta All Stars, the cultural ambassador music group to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. He’s written many compositions and arrangements, performed on and produced several recordings -- his first, Fearless Warriors, re-released in 2007 and his most recent, Life Force Speaks, issued in 2010.

Joe’s 19th national tour with the Spelman College Jazz Ensemble included performances at the Kennedy Center, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Schomburg Center for Social Research in New York City, the annual African-American Music Awards ceremony sponsored by the Northern New Jersey chapter of the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. He’s taught jazz history, clarinet, saxophone, jazz improvisation and jazz theory. He’s given his life to this music, and brought music to the lives of multitudes -- black and white, women and men, in the U.S. and abroad. Simply put: A Jazz Hero.

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John R. Lamkin, II, Ph.D.

2014 Baltimore Jazz Hero

Dr. John R. Lamkin II, Baltimore Jazz Hero, is a professional educator and professional trumpet player who is equally -- fantastically -- adept in the jazz, classical and sacred genres.

Currently Director of Bands and the coordinator of Music Education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, he received his Bachelors from South Carolina State University, his Masters from Morgan University, and his Doctorate from The University of Maryland at College Park. All his academic degrees are in Music Education. Yet he has experience no Music Ed program can provide, with performance credits including stints with Stephanie Mills, Maurice Hines, Stanley Turrentine, Sonny Stitt, Von Freeman, Frank Foster, Larry Riddley, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Cyrus Chestnut, Charles Earland, Charles Fambrough, Benny Golson, Ralph Peterson, Harvey Mason, the Temptations, the Dells, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, the Baltimore City Big Band, the Hank Levy Legacy Band, the Whit Williams Big Band, the African American Jazz Caucus Big Band, and his own brass quintets, funk bands and jazz groups.

In addition, Dr. Lamkin has performed as a soloist, with his sacred jazz quintet or as a guest conductor at All Saints Catholic Church, Grace Presbyterian Church, Lochearn Presbyterian Church, Union Baptist Church, Heritage Baptist Church, City Temple Baptist Church, Milford Mill United Presbyterian Church, Grace Presbyterian Church, the Holy Covenant Episcopal Church, Waylon Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant Ministries and St. Mark on the Hill. In 1984, he recorded his only album, Hot, for which he wrote all but one of the compositions.

A native of Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dr. Lamkin recalls growing up there during a time when live jazz music filled its streets, as an integral part of the community -- especially during the summer. During these formative years he fell in love with music, particularly the sound of jazz. He realized back then that he was called to dedicate his life to the perpetuation of our American musical heritage.

He taught in the public school systems in South Carolina and Baltimore before joining the faculty at University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He‘s also on the faculty of Sojourner Douglass College. He and his wife Eartha, a vocalist and educator, started the B-Sharp Summer Music Enrichment Academy at Timothy Baptist Church -- he teaches trumpet there. There’s probably not a brass player in Maryland -- sacred, secular, swinging or classical -- who hasn’t been touched by his sound. Which makes him a Jazz Hero.

Dr. Lamkin’s Sacred Jazz Concert

-Don Palmer
JJA Board Member
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Janis Stockhouse

2014 Bloomington IN Jazz Hero

Nominating organization Jazz from Bloomington is extremely enthusiastic about Janis Stockhouse, our 2014 Jazz Hero. So are her former students:

As bassist Matt Pavolka, who graduated from Bloomington High School North in 1990 has written, “Without a doubt Ms. Stockhouse was the teacher with the strongest and most positive presence on my life . . . She related very naturally to younger people and had an infectious enthusiasm and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. She was always at the school working with some aspect of the band program and she was always available, helpful and nurturing to the students involved. . . She shared a passion for the music and she knew what it took to really play it well. She never treated me or any of the other students like kids, she wanted us to really swing and improvise and she didn’t settle for anything less. We always played interesting and challenging music in the school big bands and she encouraged us to put our own smaller groups together as well. . . I developed a confidence in myself and a belief that I could really devote my life to performing the music that I loved that I had never had before.”

Also consider Natalie Boeyink’s testimonial: “It is Janis whom I credit entirely for encouraging me to pursue my dream of being a jazz musician and for laying the groundwork for the success I have had in my academic career, as professional jazz musician, and as a jazz educator. . . When, as a young woman, I lacked confidence in my improvisation skills, Janis would not take no for an answer. She gave me the tools to become a better improviser, helped me find bass instructors, gave me listening lists, and encouraged me to start transcribing . . .She knew my strengths and weaknesses as a player and challenged me to push beyond my comfort zone by playing more difficult music and improvising in a variety of styles.”

A graduate of the Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Janis Stockhouse is a trumpeter, and has been Director of Bands at Bloomington High School North since 1981. Under her tutelage, Bloomington High School North jazz bands and Combos have been annually honored at jazz festivals and competitions throughout the midwest as well as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. Her students have won a variety of DownBeat awards. Several have gone on to pursue their own careers in music as performers, university professors, high school teachers and music industry professionals. The Caswell Sisters (vocalist Rachel and violinist Sara) are among Janis’ most recent emerging stars.

Janis has co-authored the books Jazzwomen: Conversations with Twenty-One Jazz Musicians and Jazzwomen Speak: Interviews with Six Musicians. She frequently serves as a clinician and guest conductor for jazz ensembles and also concert bands. And she’s a person of organizational parts. She’d currently president of the Indiana Jazz Educators Association Board of Directors, whose mission is to promote jazz education, performance, scholarship and appreciation of statewise. She is vice-president of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Alumni Association, has been an officer in the International Association of Jazz Educators, Indiana Music Educators Association, Indiana Band Association and the IU Marching Hundred Alumni Council. She’s an advisory board member for Jazz from Bloomington, whom we consider invaluable.

More from Natalie Boeyink: “Janis is a fierce advocate for jazz education not only in the schools, but also in the community. . .[She] has cultivated an entire generation of jazz aficionados who have gone into the world with a love for jazz and who are knowledgeable in the music. Her support of her students does not end when they graduate from high school. She has continued to support my growth as a musician and educator – even now that I am a music education doctoral student writing my dissertation. . . To have had a strong female role model so knowledgeable in jazz and so respected by the jazz community showed me that I could aim just as high and be successful as a jazz musician.”

Day to day, season to season, year to year, Janis Stockhouse dedicates all her time, talent and passion to teaching, mentoring, inspiring, and motivating our next generation of jazz musicians -- and perhaps Jazz Heroes -- right here in Indiana.
Jazzwomen trailer

-Fred Parker

Emilio Lyons

2014 Boston Jazz Hero

Emilio Lyons is truly a legend. Like Dizzy, Miles, Ella and Sarah, he is known to musical insiders by his first name only: a mention of "Emilio" is obviously a reference to the "Sax Doctor" whose workmanship, craft, creativity and old school personality have endeared him to players internationally, many of whom he's saved from performance crises.

Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 from DownBeat (for which he's written a regular column), Emilio is acknowledged to be an innovator and refiner of the art of saxophone, clarinet and flute repair and maintenance, working for more than 50 years from his base at Boston's Rayburn Music. He's been known to shape bent horns over his knee; he has exquisite sensitivity to key pressures, springs and pad settings; customers have written accolades to his efforts such as "My instruments now virtually play themselves." Stars who have sought out his help with their horns include Sonny Rollins, Branford Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Phil Woods, Jane Ira Bloom, David Sanborn, Yusef Lateef, Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garrett, Archie Shepp, Illinois Jacquet, Al Galladoro, Joe Viola, Benny Carter, Pat LaBarbera, Dave Liebman, Harold Wright, Thomas Martin, Jonathan Cohler, Richard Stoltzman and Richie Cole.

Born in Salerno, Italy, Emilio initially learned to be a tailor. He moved to the U.S. at age 17, got a job in a Boston clothing factory and rose rapidly to the position of foreman. In the evenings he took clarinet lessons and performed with a rumba band. His growing interest in music led him to leave his factory job to become a clerk at Rayburn, near Boston's Symphony Hall, where he had been taking lessons.

His shift from clerk to woodwind repairman was encouraged by renowned, revered Berklee saxophone teacher Joe Viola, who recognized the need for such a top-notch craftsman in Boston and saw in Emilio the necessary skills and personality. Viola referred students and big name professionals to Emilio, and word got out that he was the guy to go to for sax repair.

One of Emilio's first big jobs was for Stan Getz. A call came in to Rayburn from Berklee asking for emergency repairs on Getz's tenor sax. Emilio got the job. But when Getz's representative came to pick up the horn, he insisted on giving it directly to Getz, to "ask him if the horn is okay." It was more than okay. Getz's check, along with those of Sonny Rollins and signed photos of hundreds of other players and friends cover a Wall of Honor in Emilio's work area at Rayburn.

Treating instruments as if they are indeed patients, Emilio Lyons is the very embodiment of a Sax Doctor, and as such has been an essential member of the jazz community in Boston and beyond for more than half a century.

Nominated to be a JJA 2014 Jazz Hero by JazzBoston, Emilio will receive his Award at a party in his honor, free of charge and open to the general public, at Wally's Jazz Cafe on Sunday, April 27, 3 to 6 p.m.

Jam session for Emilio at Rayburns Music 2011
Skip Spratt's portrait "Emilio" at his workspace 

 --Ken Field 
 saxophonist, Revolutionary Snake Ensemble bandleader,
 JazzBoston board member

Jennifer Johnson Washington

2014 Chicago Jazz Hero

Jennifer Johnson Washington has overseen virtually every production detail of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Jazz Festival for 20 years. As Director of Programming for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, she heads a team responsible for many large-scale civic events, including the city’s Blues Festival, Gospel Music Festival, World Music Festival, and various other music and dance productions in the city center – and also acts as artists' Hospitality Coordinator for the Taste of Chicago, the 5-day extravaganza of food and music on the Chicago lakeshore.

But Jennifer’s involvement with the Chicago Jazz Festival represents her longest relationship with any of these signature Chicago events. Since 1993, she has steered this massive undertaking through the shoals and narrows of municipal bureaucracy, first as the city’s liaison to the festival’s Programming Committee, then as a full-fledged member of that committee and finally as Jazz Festival Coordinator. The challenges she’s faced have included financial restrictions, shrinking sponsorship and most recently the move from the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park to a strikingly different venue in the city’s still-new Millennium Park. Jazz was not Jennifer’s first musical love, but she has embraced the festival from the time she arrived and has developed into one of the most committed advocates of the festival and of the music itself.

Jennifer earned her B.A. in Management and Marketing from Mundelein College before joining the staff of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (formerly the Mayor's Office of Special Events), in 1986 as an intern for the city’s Neighborhood Festival Program. Offered a full-time position with the Special Events Department in 1988, she was soon promoted to Production Coordinator for the Neighborhood Festival Program, handling logistics for some 80 neighborhood events each year, and later joined the city’s Corporate Sponsorship team, where her hands-on experience proved valuable in approaching potential sponsors for the city’s free lakefront festivals.

Throughout her tenure at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Jennifer has shown a willingness to compromise and a gift for problem-solving, skills that one always hopes to find among government officials and administrators, but rarely does. These skills of hers have shepherded the Chicago Jazz Festival through its 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversary celebrations, and helped ensure the long-range future of this signature American jazz event, which qualifies her highly for the honor of Jazz Hero.

Neil Tesser
JJA board member
Chicago Jazz Music Examiner

Jon W. Poses

2014 Columbia MO Jazz Hero

Writer, producer, advocate and educator, Jon Poses has been bringing audiences in the Midwest up close and personal to jazz -- and jazz performers -- for close to 30 years. As founder and executive director of the “We Always Swing”® Jazz Series, a grassroots nonprofit in Columbia, Mo., Poses combines a subscription-based concert series, hands-on educational programs and tireless community outreach to expand an appreciation for this truly American art form.

"People who don't know jazz or who don't 'understand' it or have never really been exposed to it are intimidated by it," he told the Columbia Tribune in 2012. "But that doesn't mean you can't just go and get into it. … You go forward with jazz because the beauty of it is that it always moves forward."

A native of Queens, NY, Jon has been helping advance jazz in his own way since 1978, when he arrived in Columbia as a graduate student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He immediately signed on with community radio station KOPN-FM (89.5) as a volunteer and radio announcer, eventually becoming its director of jazz programming. While pursuing a freelance-writing career -- his work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, DownBeat, Spin and the Christian Science Monitor, and he’s written scores of liner notes -- Jon first envisioned a marriage of two distinct but uniquely American subjects: jazz and baseball.

That led him to found National Pastimes Productions, the artist representation and touring company, in 1985. For much of the next decade, Jon booked tours that crisscrossed the country for a long list of jazz luminaries, including Bobby Watson, Joanne Brackeen, David Murray, Kenny Barron, Slide Hampton, Harold Mabern, Kevin Mahogany, Peter Leitch and James Williams.

Among the special projects conceived by National Pastimes Productions was a 1994 tour by the Contemporary Piano Ensemble that included pianists Williams, Mabern, Mulgrew Miller, Geoffrey Keezer and Donald Brown, along with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Tony Reedus. Jon worked out a deal out with Yamaha Artist Services to have a quartet of keyboards moved from city to city, at one point covering 19 cities in 23 days – including a stop in Columbia. “That tour was certainly one of the most ambitious I undertook, and one that I’m most fond of,” Jon says.

A decade earlier, James Williams had played a seminal role in Jon’s jazz life, when he was approached by two of his closest friends who had recently opened Murry's, a Columbia restaurant and wanted to feature live jazz performances. With Jon’s help, James Williams became Murry's first national attraction, performing solo piano for an intimate crowd.

It was the first more than 200 shows that have taken place in the now 125-seat venue, and gave Jon an opening to develop his annual subscription series involving multiple venues and community events from children's concerts to photo exhibits and jazz-related films. The inaugural season of the “We Always Swing”® Jazz Series began in July 1995 with six concerts. The following year, Jon added an educational component, which has developed to include a Jazz in the Schools initiative and master classes for aspiring student and local musicians. Periodically the Jazz Series, through its James Williams Education Program, sends a handful of local students for week-long study at the UMKC Conservatory Jazz Camp and the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp in Louisville, Ky.

In 2007, Jon approached Missouri's College of Arts and Science about a partnership that would bring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Wynton Marsalis, to Columbia. As Michael O'Brien, the school's dean, recalled, “I said, ‘If you can get Wynton Marsalis, I’ll help underwrite the show. And we did.”

The college has sponsored a major Jazz Series event every season since then, while providing valuable support to the organization. The dean is on the Jazz Series board of directors, and in fall 2009 the organization became an affiliated program of Arts and Sciences, which provides computers and tech support, covers health and retirement benefits for two full-time employees, and helps out with marketing and communications.

While O'Brien says the Jazz Series has paid dividends for the university and its students, particularly those in the MU Jazz Studies program, the affiliation has strengthened the Jazz Series’ standing in the community, as well, by providing resources to attract artists who might otherwise never make it to Columbia.

“The goal is always to have the shows pay for themselves," Jon asserts, "but the fact that you have some support allows you to take the initial risk.”

For more than a quarter-century, he has shown a willingness to take such calculated risks to advance the cause of jazz. Jon Poses’ love of the music and the people who perform it are anchored by an overarching philosophy: "The best defense is a strong offense," he says, "namely, not constricting in the face of challenges but maintaining and even expanding the market."

-Brian Wallstin

Bill Foster

2014 Detroit Jazz Hero

Bill Foster, Detroit’s 2014 Jazz Hero, has been a strong advocate of the city’s arts for almost 60 years, promoting jazz all the while, and is currently working towards Detroit’s revitalization. Most of his efforts have been facilitated through The Jazz Network Foundation, a non-profit organization which he founded in 1992, and through which he has presented numerous concerts, workshops, art shows, dance performances, poetry and plays.

Raised and educated in Detroit, Bill promoted his first concert in 1956. It was headlined by pianist Harold McKinney and drummer Roy Brooks, and featured in Jet magazine. Moving to Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1960s, Bill promoted local artists as well as nationally touring acts there, also hosting a live jazz radio show on WCUY-FM and program of recorded jazz on WERE-FM. Returning to Detroit in the 1970s, Bill continued to work with artists representing his passion -- a brief list of those who have performed under his auspices includes Dwight Adams, Bill Banfield, Marcus Belgrave, Ben’s Friends Big Band, Ron Blake, George Bohanon, Buddy Budson, Oscar Brown Jr., James Carter, Kenn Cox, Tommy Flanagan, FRA FRA Sound, Charlie Gabriel, Roy Hargrove, Winard Harper, Dr. Teddy Harris, Bob Hurst, Milt Jackson, Sean Jones, Eugene Maslov, Mulgrew Miller, Steve Nelson, Johnny O’Neal, Michael Rabinowitz, Kareem Riggins, Vanessa Rubin, Straight Ahead, Donald Walden, Ursula Walker, Michael Wolff, Rodney Whitaker, Lenny White and Buster Williams.

Bill developed and established venues such as the SereNgeti Ballroom and also the SereNgeti Galleries to showcase local, national and international artists. The Balloom hosted “Thursday Night Jam Sessions” and youth development programs hosted by Harold McKinney; the Galleries became home to the National Jazz Orchestra (which Bill directed, and which performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival for four consecutive years), as well as the Youth in Music Program and several African dance troupes. It served as a community cultural center that specialized in exhibiting African and Haitian artwork. “It’s a great concept; you can come to an art exhibit that turns into a jazz concert or a jazz concert that turns into an art exhibit,” he says.

Bill’s efforts have not gone unnoticed: he was honored by the Detroit Jazz Festival as a recipient of its Jazz Guardian Award in 2007 and in September, 2013 received the Spirit of Detroit Award from the City of Detroit as well as a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge award. His concept for the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge is Jazz-Off Detroit, which will assemble two jazz ensembles through performance competitions, one consisting of musicians 30 years of age or older and the other of musicians under 30. The JJA’s Jazz Hero Award is not, of course, tied to any age requirement or restriction -- it just asserts that Bill Foster deserves applause as an activist, advocate, altruist, aider and abettor of jazz.

-Viva C. Foster

Larry Reni Thomas

2014 Durham NC Jazz Hero

Larry Reni Thomas is a 30-year veteran media activist based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has worked at seven radio stations and whose journalistic work has appeared in DownBeat and The New York Times Magazine. He’s been one of the lone public voices for jazz in his region, which has been historically rich in the music but sadly overlooked by most commercial outlets.

Born in 1950 and reared in Wilmington, North Carolina, Larry began his professional journalistic career in 1978, while a history graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assisting reporter Wayne King with a New York Times Magazine article called “The Case Against the Wilmington Ten.” Since then his articles, reviews and previews have appeared in DownBeat, Jazz Line, The Spectator Magazine, The Urban Journal, The Carolina Times, The Daily Tar Heel,The Independent Weekly, The Wilmington Star News, The Wilmington Journal, Encore Magazine and Reggae Report. In 1982, while a jazz announcer at WDBS-FM, he wrote the liner notes for vocalist Bus Brown’s The StoryTeller (on Relate Records), and later that year he published The True Story Behind The Wilmington Ten (a revised edition was published by U.B. & U.S. Books, in 1993). His second book, Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!: A Tale of the Wilmington Incident of February 1971 was published February 2006, and his third, The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan issued in January 2014. He is currently working on an historical study of The Barn: Wilmington, North Carolina’s Jazz Mecca (1941—1945).

Larry is also the founder and project director of Larry Thomas & Associates, Inc., a non-profit arts organization dedicated to jazz and Caribbean cultures, with a mission of elevating his community’s awareness of vital, vibrant art. He was an active member of the now defunct International Association for Jazz Education, served on the board of directors of the North Carolina Jazz Network and the Triangle Jazz Society. Having earned an M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and having further studied at UNC’s graduate school of journalism, he’s taught history at Shaw University Cape Adult Degree Program and at Omuteko Gwamaziima, an African-centered charter school in Durham. He’s been a jazz announcer with WHQR-FM, Wilmington; station manager of WWIL-AM (1990); evening jazz announcer, interim station manager, program director and producer for WNCU-FM, and is presently a jazz announcer at WCOM-FM, Chapel Hill-Carrboro. If Durham has a recognizable jazz voice, it clearly belongs to Jazz Hero Larry Reni Thomas. 

-Cicely Mitchell
The Art of Cool

Peggy Stern and John Bilotti

2014 Kingston NY Jazz Heroes

Men have long dominated the field of jazz, but the Wall Street Jazz Festival, produced for its 11th year by Peggy Stern and John Bilotti, challenges that domination by focusing on women as leaders. It is not an exclusive women’s jazz fest; to the contrary, most of the bands are generously peopled with men. But the principle behind the festival, a two-day, outdoor, free-to-the-public event held in late August in downtown Kingston, NY, is simply that women leaders and their musical concepts are being presented. This sets it apart from most other festivals in the country (and the world), with the forward-thinking communities of Ulster and Dutchess Counties providing the ideal forum for such a long overdue presentation. And the success of this fest earns Peggy and John applause from the JJA as Jazz Heroes.

The premise of the Wall Street Jazz Festival was conceived in 2003 after Peggy and John met at a local jazz festival where no women were playing. Their concept was to hold an event "where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women." Those leaders have included Claire Daly, Francesca Tanksley, Judi Silvano, Dena DeRose, Sweet Sue Terry, Jay Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Jamie Baum, Jenny Scheinman, Virginia Mayhew, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Sumi Tonooka, Nina Sheldon, Erika Lindsay, Lee Shaw, Betty MacDonald, Veronica Nunes, Jane Blackstone, Donna Antonow and myself, Teri Roiger, among others.

The fest’s two producers are well-matched: John was a New York City fireman before moving to the Hudson Valley in the mid ‘70s, creating his own jazz club (The Half Note, in Palenville) and later becoming one of the partners of Joyous Lake, in Woodstock. He is the CEO of High Woods Restoration, a contracting company, in Saugerties.

Peggy is a well known and accomplished pianist, who switched her preferred repertoire years ago from classical to jazz improvisation, via salsa and rhythm and blues. She’s well-known as a composer, with four of her tunes featured in the Sher Real Book series; has worked extensively with Lee Konitz, Emily Remler, Jay Clayton, Diane Schuur, Stanley Turrentine, Gary Peacock, George Mraz, Billy Drewes and Thomas Chapin, to name a few; has toured Europe, Japan, Australia and the U.S, and has appeared at the Jazzpar (Copenhagen), Montreal, DuMaurier, Manly (Sydney), Port Townsend, Bell Atlantic, IAJE and JVC Jazz fests, as well as the MaryLou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Currently she splits her time between the Hudson Valley and Austin,Texas where her daughter Sarka Mraz and family live.

“We hope the Wall Street Jazz Festival is regarded as a great gift to the community -- and a free one at that!” Peggy has said. “We hope to reach as many people as possible, and we do not concentrate on their age, race, gender or ethnicity, only their ears.” Peggy and John are being honored as individual Jazz Heroes, who work together. John will receive his statuette at a free, public event in April; Peggy at The Wall Street Jazz Festival in August, when she returns from several months in Austin.
-Teri Roiger

Vita West Muir

2014 Litchfield CT Jazz Hero

Vita West Muir founded Litchfield Performing Arts in 1981 and became its Executive/Artistic Director in 1989, her efforts resulting in the organization becoming a formidable force in the arts in Connecticut and beyond. She has developed and run many programs over 30 years, ranging from classical concerts to the critically acclaimed and highly popular Litchfield Jazz Festival which she conceived and founded in 1996. She established the teaching arm of the Festival, Litchfield Jazz Camp, as a one week day-time program for 35 students in 1997. Eighteen years later, it is a five-week day-time and residential program hosting some 400 students of all ages each summer from all over the world, with a quarter of them attending on need-based scholarships.

Meanwhile, the Litchfield Jazz Festival has featured the who’s who of jazz artists and started and revivified many careers. It is the festival that first presented Diana Krall to American audiences and introduced Brad Mehldau, Larry Goldings and Eric Alexander, among others. It has featured Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez, Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri amid its extensive pantheon. It has brought top level jazz activity to a region that has responded with enthusiastic support.

Vita has indefatigably worked to secure scores of grants from local, state and federal sources to support LPA’s work. She has also served on the boards of Young Audiences, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and as an NEA panelist. Her passion for music and its presentation has taken her rather far from her earlier training, her B.S. in Biology from Fordham University and her previous career as a writer specializing in medical science (she documented the biomedical results of Apollo for NASA). But she’s been recognized with the Rotary Foundation’s Paul Harris Medal, the Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Arts Administration Fellowship, the Inge Morath Award, the 2008 Connecticut Governor’s Award for Excellence in Culture and Tourism and the 2011 Chamber Music America CMAcclaim Award in recognition of outstanding service and cultural contributions to the community.

 The JJA’s Jazz Hero Award will be presented to her during the free opening cocktail hour of the Litchfield Jazz Festival Gala on April 26 at Metro Bis Restaurant in the 1820 House in Simsbury, CT.

Litchfield Jazz Camp 2011

-Peter Adomeit
President of the Board, Litchfield Jazz Festival

Harold Battiste, Jr.

2014 New Orleans Jazz Hero

The New Orleans Jazz Journalists Association members have chosen to honor Harold Battiste, Jr. for his progressive, innovative and creative contributions to the jazz and r&b scenes from the 1950s into the present – a music and cultural timeline of more than 60 years.

After developing a prolific and influential career as a producer, arranger, composer and saxophonist in both California and his native New Orleans, Harold recognized a major hole in the music industry and, in 1961, founded All for One (AFO) Records, the nation’s first record label owned and operated by African-American musicians. AFO recorded the first wave of contemporary jazz artists in New Orleans, including clarinetist Alvin Batiste ( a distant relative), drummers Ed Blackwell and James Black; jazz vocalist Germaine Bazzle; saxophonists Nat Perrilliat and Alvin “Red” Tyler, and pianist Ellis Marsalis. The label and its concomitant foundation continue today to support the efforts of African-American musicians, particularly those in New Orleans.

In addition to his jazz-oriented work, Harold was instrumental in launching the pop careers of Sam Cooke, Sonny & Cher and Dr. John. He produced and arranged 10 gold records, including such era-defining hits as “I Got You, Babe” and “The Beat Goes On” (Sonny & Cher), “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke), “I Know [You Don’t Love Me No More]” (Barbara George) and “You Talk Too Much” (Joe Jones). He also mentored Mac Rebennack, creating the persona of “Dr. John, The Night Tripper” and producing Rebennack’s critically acclaimed debut album, Gris-Gris.

In the late 1980s, Harold Battiste partnered with Ellis Marsalis to build the renowned jazz studies program at the University of New Orleans. He developed an impressive flock of protégés both inside and outside of UNO, including such noted musicians as Nicholas Payton, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Irvin Mayfield, Rex Gregory and Jesse McBride (leader of the Next Generation band, another Battiste vision). With the 2010 publication of Unfinished Blues: Memories of A New Orleans Music Man (which I co-authored, published by the Historic New Orleans Collection), Harold shared aspects of his life story that had been obscure for many years. An extensive collection of his papers is archived at the Amistad Research Center.

Harold Battiste, Jr. is a true Jazz Hero for his vision in the creation of AFO Records; his large body of work as a composer, arranger, musician and producer, both within and beyond the jazz paradigm; for his volunteer work on the boards of the Congo Square Cultural Collective, the Louisiana State Music Commission, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, Louisiana Jazz Federation, the African Cultural Endowment and numerous other cultural organizations, and his ongoing commitment to music education. In 1998 October 28, his birthday, was proclaimed Harold Battiste Day by the City of New Orleans. He has fostered such a living legacy throughout the city and its jazz community by working with students and enabling of the Next Generation band that really every day here is a Harold Battiste day.

Harold Battiste on tenor sax

-Karen Celestan
Tulane University, Southern University at New Orleans,
Festival Productions Inc.,
past president New Orleans Association of Black Journalists

Meghan Stabile

2014 New York City Jazz Hero

In a short time but with enormous determination, insight and energy, Meghan Stabile has established a new diversified community for authentic, high quality live jazz and improvisational music in the toughest of all nuts, New York City.

An alumnus of Berklee College of Music, Meghan arrived in NYC in the early 2000s with the intention of bringing together jazz and hip-hop musicians and young people in audience-friendly local venues. She launched her concert and club productions, typically featuring instrumental soloists with rappers and hip-hop beats, under the rubric Revive Da Live, renaming it Revive Music in 2006.

The breakthrough of Meghan's boutique music agency occurred in 2010 when she instigated the collaboration of Roy Ayers, Pete Rock and the Robert Glasper Experiment in New York, then took the show to Paris, France as part of the Jazz a la Villette Festival. This success resulted in further outreach, such as the meeting of Glasper's Experiment with Mos Def at the Capetown Festival in South Africa.

But Meghan has doubled down, not abandoned, her New York City focus, by founding Generations of the BEAT, NYC's first festival of jazz drummers, and the Revive Big Band. She's also been a media innovator, with the website Revive-Music.com (formerly a web-based publication titled The Revivalist) attracting jazz's most sought after demographic: young people who like good music, whatever it's called.

As Meghan's talents for production and networking have become known, she's been eagerly sought as a creative and brand consultant working in partnership with the Winter Jazz Festival, Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, Blue Note Jazz Festival, Summerstage, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and even the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2013 she was signed as an executive producer for Blue Note Records, and the first recordings she's supervised are due for release later this year.

Meanwhile, she's served as a panelist at South By Southwest, CMJ, JazzTimes DIY Crash Course conference and the Jazz Connect Conference at APAP, Eyes on Entrepreneurs series at the New School and the JJA's Talking Jazz webinar series. She was keynote speaker for the entering class of her alma mater, Berklee College, in fall 2013. During JazzApril, Meghan will be leading workshops at Berklee. Revive Music has just launched two performance series– Minton's Redux and Harlem After Dark – at the re-opened birthplace of bebop, Minton's Playhouse. Our New York Jazz Hero is just the sort of person jazz needs most to proceed in the 21st century: Meghan Stabile knows her jazz history, embraces the music's traditional values and understands how they apply to what people want to play and hear right now.

-Howard Mandel

Bill Strickland

2014 Pittsburgh Jazz Hero

Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, former board member of the National Endowment of the Arts and founder of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, was forever changed by jazz music when his high school art teacher played it for him in the school ceramics studio. Bill had been an indifferent student from Pittsburgh’s African-American ghetto, but found that the freedom of expression and unparalleled clarity of thought that the music represented touched him in a way he would cherish for the rest of his life. He changed course, became ambitious, graduated from University of Pittsburgh cum laude -- and developed into a very accomplished ceramic artist who to this day incorporates elements of jazz in his approach to his art.

His experience in that ceramics studio gave Bill a life mission: to empower educational environments, a task he took from the start to mean bringing arts and mentorship to youth in the inner city neighborhood from which he came. After high school, Bill plunged into the music he loved, and got to know many of the great local Pittsburgh players. He started Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in 1968, while still at the University, to introduce jazz to kids just as his teacher had done for him, during courses that eventually expanded beyond ceramics to include design, digital and photography (now known as the MCG Youth and Arts Program).

And his outreach continued. In 1972 he took over a struggling building trade school, which by 1987 he had turned into the Bidwell Training Center, offering programs in horticulture, medical technology and adult career instruction. The facility also incorporated a music hall for jazz concerts. Since then, thousands of performances have been held in the space, multiple Grammy-winning recordings produced from them, and tens of thousands of people touched by the music –- just as Bill had been. He brought other organizations into the mix, creating a model that has resulted in the National Center for Arts and Technology with affiliated centers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Grand Rapids and San Francisco. He worked tirelessly to implement his vision for individuals’ advancement based on mentorship, education, beauty and hope. He detailed much of his thinking and story in his book, published in 2007, Making the Impossible Possible.

Bill’s achievements have been amply recognized, with honors ranging from a 1996 MacArthur fellowship for leadership in ingenuity and the arts to Japan’s 2011 Goi Peace Award and recognition from the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2013 during Black History Month. To this day he attends all jazz concerts at MCG when he is town and makes a special piece of pottery for each visiting jazz musician. His pieces have been enjoyed in the homes of Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Heath, Ramsey Lewis and countless others.

Bill’s commitment to jazz for the past 40-plus years has added to the rich cultural legacy of Pittsburgh in a most profound way. Jazz itself has made him a Jazz Hero.

-Marty Ashby

Cephas Bowles

2014 Newark Jazz Hero

Jazz has always been a part of the life of Cephas Bowles, on-leave president and CEO of WBGO. It's been that way from his early days growing up on the sounds from his father’s turntable, then next his brother Carey’s and soon his own as the overnight jock on WAER, the radio station of Syracuse University (he graduated from SU as a broadcast major). But true to form, Cephas wasn’t just spinning records; he also helped build a jazz library at the school -- ensuring a lasting legacy and visibility for the music. Not that he made a big thing of it.

One of the many friends Cephas met while at Syracuse, a fellow student who he remains connected to today, is famed broadcaster Bob Costas. "The average young person in the early ‘70s at an eastern university,” says Costas, “they sort of wore their politics or their cultural sensibilities, whatever their attitudes were, on their sleeves. Some could be in your face. There was something cooler, in the best sense, about Cephas. People were always trying to make sure you knew who they thought they were. He was never like that."

After college, the next stop for Cephas was a stint in commercial television news at 524 West 57th, the New York headquarters of CBS broadcasting where he had his first taste of the big leagues. This lead him to a position out west at KUAT, the University of Arizona licensee with a television station as well as two radio stations, one playing jazz. It was a new world, not only geographically but because Cephas had the chance to inch into management. He rose through those stations’ ranks and commenced his long association with National Public Radio.

Cephas stayed in Tucson until 1993, when he was recruited to return to his hometown -- Newark, New Jersey -- to run WBGO, then a small jazz station with only local reach (albeit into the jazz capital of the world). Under his leadership, WBGO rose to become the primary jazz content producer for NPR, and a formidable force of support in the careers of many of today’s most prominent musicians.

Somehow through all of the years, in a business where radio stations change formats at the drop of a hat, Cephas has managed to stay close to the music of his dad and his brother. No question when one of the WBGO jocks on-air plays something by guitarist Grant Green or just about any track featuring a Hammond B3-organ, they will say “This one’s for Cephas.”

-Amy Niles 
Acting President and CEO, WBGO

Thara Memory

2014 Portland Oregon Jazz Hero

Thara Memory, Grammy-winner and 2014 JJA Jazz Hero, has had a remarkable career as a jazz performer, educator and activist. It all began with Miles Davis.

When he was 12 years old, Memory fell in love with Davis’s music. The young trumpeter listened to Porgy and Bess every day. “Then one day,” Memory says, “I realized I’d never be as good as Miles. And I cried.” The next day, though, he told himself, “I’m gonna try the best I can anyway.”

And he started going to every Miles Davis concert he could, hanging around backstage if possible. One day, Miles approached him.

“You’re that trumpet player, aren’t you?” Davis asked.

“Now you know,” Memory notes, “that man was never flattering.” When he nodded yes, Miles said, “I bet you can’t play worth a shit.”

Memory thought to himself, “Ah, this cat must recognize me on some human level, and he knows that I can really play, or he wouldn’t be standing around looking me in the eye.” So he replied, “Well, no, not compared to you I can’t. But I can hold down my own thing — and bring some people up with me.”

That’s exactly what Memory’s done since he arrived in Portland in 1970 on tour with the Joe Tex Band, and decided to stay.

For many years he was known solely as a musical force, leading his own bands as well as playing in the Mel Brown Sextet, winner of the Hennessy International Jazz Competition, and in the Leroy Vinnegar Quartet. Then he started teaching … and found the path that led to him being named an Oregon Jazz Master at the 2011 Portland Jazz Festival and receiving a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists with Esperanza Spalding (his most renowned student and 2013 Grammy Artist of the Year) for their song "City of Roses," on Spalding’s Radio Music Society album.

Memory has worked with award-winning band programs at Portland-area high schools and helped form community music courses for youth, which brought him a Lifetime Achievement Award from Portland’s World Arts Foundation. In 2005, after leaving the public schools, he put together the American Music Program, his current regional initiative, for students in grades seven through 12. Subsequently the AMP’s Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra has won numerous national competitions, including the Next Generation Festival in Monterey and the Savannah Music Festival's Swing Central competition. Memory’s student bands have produced several notable recording artists besides Spalding, and his pupils have often received scholarships to top music colleges.

Memory is also a composer; his operetta “Sherman,” was performed in 2011, and one of his classical pieces has been played by the Marylhurst Symphony. He has released two cds of original material, Juke Music and Chronicle, the latter recalling his early years in Florida. He regularly performs at sold-out concerts with his professional ensembles that connect jazz with soul and rhythm and blues, to attract a large, broad audience. His ability as an instrumentalist was in jeopardy several years ago when he lost parts of two fingers to the effects of diabetes, but he continues to perform on a trumpet custom-made for him by Portland's David Monette.

Overcoming such adversity has added to Memory’s status in the community. The adversity itself perhaps helped the 66-year-old jazz activist put his struggle in perspective.

“I’ve gone through the whole thing where I was mad as hell at everybody and at how artists are treated in this country, and how we can’t make a living,” Thara Memory has said. “I’ve gone through every one of those stages, and I’ve beat them all, and now I do the stuff that really enriches me – period. You do the stuff that really enriches you.” Thanks, Jazz Hero -- that enriches Portland, too.

Thara Memory: “You get in an elevator, you either hear John Coltrane or Aretha Franklin” and peformance of “Your Love” from Bing Lounge, KINK Radio.

-Lynn Darroch
Jazzscene magazine, 
Bright Moments! KMHD

Wayne Thompson

2014 Portland Oregon Jazz Hero

“Writing skills have a great deal to do with my contribution to the jazz community,” says Wayne Thompson, JJA 2014 Jazz Hero, who has been using those skills to advance jazz nationally and in the Portland area since the early 1980s, when he began serving on the Board of Directors for the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.

Even before that, Wayne was writing extensively about jazz for audiophile magazines. He was the Oregon correspondent for Time from 1973 to 1980, and throughout his 37-year career at The Oregonian newspaper (including 22 years on the editorial board that earned him 23 editorial writing awards) wrote a column on electronics syndicated to some 80 newspapers nationally, in which he also reviewed jazz cds. A long-time member of the JJA, Wayne was the editor of Jazzscene magazine for the Jazz Society of Oregon for 18 years, devoting significant space to jazz education issues, often spotlighting students and school programs. Under his watch, the magazine promoted regional artists such as Dave Frishberg, Nancy King, David Friesen, Rebecca Kilgore, Glen Moore and others who were able to reside and perform in Portland, thus contributing to the health of local jazz.

However, even beyond his editorial work, Wayne stands out as an exemplary model of a non-musician sustaining jazz as an accessible, ongoing part of every American community. He has served on the board of the Portland Jazz Festival; he was one of its co-founders in 2003, and its first financial contributor. He took on fundraising duties -- it was he who brought a major title sponsor to the Fest on a multi-year agreement. He continues to serve on the fest’s program committee.

Wayne is the author of the 2010 book, BlazerMania: This Is Our Story, but he is most proud of liner notes he wrote for jazz recordings, especially the 1989 Stan Getz album Soul Eyes (Concord) and Sunbeam and Thundercloud (Concord, 1996) by the duo of pianist Dave McKenna and baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley. Those notes — and others for albums by the likes of Gene Harris, Mary Stallings, The Great Guitars and Scott Hamilton with Bucky Pizzarelli — earned him a voting membership in the Recording Academy.

“Good writing is written by ear,” he’s said. “And jazz lends itself to good writing — like jazz, good writing has rhythm and is very musical.”

Wayne is a musician himself who, as you might expect from his comments about writing, plays by ear — as did his mother,  a pianist who accompanied silent movies. His devotion to music is evident in his collection of instruments; two of his three Keilwerth Couf saxophones sit on stands in his living room. He has played tenor, alto and soprano saxes, three clarinets and guitar, and, now 78 years of age, still plays alto sax and alto clarinet.

“I play for the seagulls down at the beach,” he said. “I’ll know it’s time to quit when they don’t listen anymore.” So far, they still do.

Review of Blazermania: This is Our Story by Wayne Thompson

-Lynn Darroch
Jazzscene magazine, 
Bright Moments! KMHD

Raymond Brown

2014 Santa Cruz CA Jazz Hero

Ray Brown is a composer, trumpeter, big band leader, arranger, educator and author. For over three decades, he’s headed up jazz studies at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, teaching improvisation, arranging and jazz ensemble. Besides being a full time instructor at Cabrillo College, he leads the ambiguously titled Ray Brown's Great Big Band, which performs a yearly standing-room-only concert at Cabrillo, performing arrangements he’s written. He’s credited not only with teaching hundreds of musicians over the past 30 years, but also with educating Santa Cruz County audiences about the history and legacy of jazz as an American art form.

Ray was born soon after the end of WW II into a musical family in Oceanside, New York. Although he later took music degrees at Ithaca College — alma mater to his whole family — and at Long Island University, he insists that his real musical education began early at home. Ray's father Glenn was a high-school band director for over 25 years, a pioneer of jazz education at the scholastic level and for several years ran a jazz camp in New Hampshire. Both of Ray’s parents held musical degrees, and passed their love of music on to three sons: Glenn Jr., Steve and Ray. Ray credits Steve, a guitarist, with interesting him in jazz by introducing him to recordings by Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Barney Kessel and Paul Desmond, and encouraging him to play trumpet. In 1975, Steve and Ray co-wrote a book, An Introduction to Jazz Improvisation.

Following college, Ray worked steadily as a trumpeter and arranger for the likes of Stan Kenton, Bill Watrous, Bill Berry and the Frank Capp-Nat Pierce Juggernaut. While with Kenton (whom Ray always refers to respectfully as "Stanley"), he sat next to Mike Vax, now director of the Stan Kenton Alumni Band.

Ray has received several NEA grants for composition and performance, and a short list of those he's performed with includes Mundell Lowe, Leroy Vinnegar, Thad Jones, Jimmy Heath, Steve Gadd and Billy Hart. He may be best known recently for conducting the Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra for Roy Hargrove's 1999 recording Moment to Moment.

In 2010, Ray and his wife Sue were honored with a “Gail Rich Award,” which annually celebrates the spirit of the arts in Santa Cruz by recognizing those who inspire the town’s diverse and culturally rich community. Ray might considered the JJA Jazz Hero Award adjunct to that. And it may be the words of his former students that please him most:

“He's a genius and has made things make sense that I have tried to understand for years. Getting this level of excellence in instruction is rare at any school, much less a Community College.”

“Ray is a great teacher. I learned more from him than I did in any other music classes. He really wants everyone to understand theory and improvisation, but you definitely have to work hard!”

“The best teacher of any subject I have ever come across. He is a true jazz enthusiast, and by the end of any one of his classes you'll be one too. Consider yourself lucky if you get to have a class with him.”
-Sandy Sloan
Kuumbwa Jazz 

Faye Carol

2014 SF Bay Area Jazz Hero

The San Francisco Bay Area has long boasted one of the most vibrant communities of jazz vocalists in the country, comparable to New York City in its depth and variety. And for some four decades, Faye Carol has reigned as one of the region’s most versatile and exciting singers, an artist described as “dynamic” so often that it’s become her official tag.

Faye can croon soul and standards, scat hurtling bebop lines and deliver torch songs with scorching intensity, but everything she does is steeped in the blues. One reason she’s not better known outside the Bay Area is that she’s long devoted a good deal of her time and energy to mentoring young musicians. The Bay Area scene is rife with players who got their start under her firm but loving direction, from saxophonist/drummer Howard Wiley, pianist Kito Gamble (aka Sista Kee) and saxophonist Joshi Marshall to bassist Marcus Shelby and pianist Benny Green, who says “I can’t begin to fathom how much I got from Faye in terms of a foundation as a jazz performer. We played standards and talked about the blues from an insider’s perspective. Opening the show playing a trio number or two was my first time getting my feet wet leading a band. Being around a black American musician who lived the music all her life was an experience that money can’t buy.”

Sometimes it seems like she has mentored half the young (and not so young) players on the scene. She first started teaching in the late 1980s at Jazz Camp West and then went on to launch her own Music In the Community program at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Group Theater. While the California Arts Council initially funded the program, she’s kept it going for the past five years or so through her own sweat and determination. With arts education but a memory in many East Bay schools, Faye provides a desperately needed service. As she sees it, her mission is to help introduce black youngsters to their own culture.

“Just for them to have pride,” she says. “They don’t know anything about their culture. You can’t feel the pride if you don’t know about it. The disconnect is mainly because they’ve never been exposed. The media has taught them that you shouldn’t listen to older people. We know about the fatherless situation. We know about how the funding is for the public schools. But I can’t worry about what the state is doing. Somebody has to step up and say, 'These are our kids.'”

Born in Meridian, Mississippi, Faye moved to the East Bay town of Pittsburg as a child. Her love of singing was unleashed in the youth choir of Solomon Temple Missionary Baptist Church. By the time she graduated high school she was established on the Black Diamond mainstem, Pittsburg’s hopping strip of blues and jazz clubs catering to soldiers from Camp Stoneman.

Her talent contest victory at the Oakland Auditorium led to steady work with veteran East Bay bluesmen like Johnny Talbot, Eddie Foster, and Johnny Hartsman, who took Faye out on the Bay Area blues circuit. When musical tastes started changing in the mid 1970s with the rise of disco, she was well prepared to move into San Francisco’s vibrant cabaret scene, where she won an avid following among gay audiences.

While she grew up listening to the soul and r&b hits of the day, Faye came to appreciate the great jazz singers and instrumentalists of earlier eras through her husband-to-be, the late educator Jim Gamble, and pianist Martha Young, a niece of tenor sax immortal Lester Young. As a teenager in Pittsburg, Faye used to hang out at Young’s house almost every afternoon to sing, and it was Young who introduced her to Billie Holiday’s music, though she didn’t start performing those songs until decades later.

With the decline of the r&b scene, Faye started taking more jazz and cabaret gigs, forming The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol and Her Trio to showcase her vast stylistic range. In the ‘90s she teamed up with her daughter, pianist Kito Gamble, a collaboration documented on the 1997 album The Flow featuring drum master Billy Higgins and bassist Marcus Shelby.

Shelby was so deeply impressed by Faye’s sound and presence that years later, when he started to compose the music for his epic double album Harriet Tubman, he drew on her voice for inspiration. She is featured throughout the album, singing the role of the fearless abolitionist with absolute conviction. Since recording the project in 2007, Shelby has worked extensively with Faye, exposure that’s only increased his respect for the singer.

“She’s probably one of the most underrated and underappreciated talents,” Shelby says. “I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as her. Her rehearsals are more intense than most gigs I play on. She surrounds herself with young, hungry musicians, like Betty Carter, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins did. She’s a continuation of that spirit.” The Bay Area thrives on that spirit -- thanks to Jazz Hero Faye Carol.

-Andy Gilbert

Thomas Pierce

2014 Schenectady NY Jazz Hero

Tom Pierce has been an active supporter of the Capital Region jazz community in myriad ways since relocating from Brooklyn in 2001, after retiring from his career managing information technology projects. His passion for jazz had been sparked and fueled by hearing the music live in New York City starting in 1960, by seeing virtually every major artist still performing and accumulating a library of over 3,000 recordings, videos, books and magazines.

Tom began sharing his love of jazz and supporting the musicians he was moved by soon after his retirement. He started by writing online cd and concert reviews and articles for jazz websites including Allaboutjazz.com and albanyjazz.com and the Yahoo Group Songbirds: The Singers of Classic Pop and Jazz, among others. Responding to requests, since 2002 he has delivered over 20 well-received free dvd jazz presentations at a variety of community and commercial venues throughout Albany, Guilderland, Saratoga and Schenectady.

In 2004 Tom supported Newark’s well-known jazz radio station WBGO with a special contribution and co-hosted an edition of program host Michael Bourne’s long-running show “Singers Unlimited”. This led to Tom being invited by Bill McCann (a 2012 Jazz Hero) to serve as guest co-host on his “Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz” show on WCDB Albany, which he did from 2005 through 2012. During the middle of that stint, in 2007 Tom designed his own website, Vocal Traditions to further provide information on his activities and music preferences. The site’s watchword is: “A passionate fan celebrates the music he loves.”

In addition to these public activities, Tom has provided direct assistance to a number of vocalists and instrumentalists creating cds both in New York City and the Capital Region. He’s helped with financing, coordinated copyright requirements, publicized, promoted and in the case of Colleen Pratt served as executive producer of her 2007 release I Thought About You.

Tom has been very active in two jazz organizations: the Swingtime Jazz Society, which he served as board member, publicist, event coordinator and consultant on request from 2006 to 2010, and perhaps most significantly for the local jazz community, A Place for Jazz from 2001 to the present. In 2001 on his very first day in the area, Tom met Butch Conn, the founder of A Place for Jazz, and soon commenced writing reviews and articles for the association’s quarterly newsletter, sitting on its advisory committee and choosing artists for its annual concerts.

Tom increased his support of APFJ after Butch’s unfortunate illness and death in 2005. He spent six years as vice-president and board member in close conjunction with another proud JJA Jazz Hero -- me. He’s done grant work, organizational budgeting and planning, publicity, communications and constantly searched for ways to continue the growth and improvement of A Place For Jazz. Although no longer on the board, Tom remains in close contact as an information resource consultant.

This only skims the surface of what Tom has done. Not only was he instrumental in getting APFJ grants from the New York State Council on the Arts -- he’s created our posters, chauffeured musicians to and from concerts and musical clinics and kept voluminous records of just about all our activities. He has been a mainstay of our organization, and thus jazz in the Capital Region, and I can think of no one more deserving the title of Jazz Hero.

-Tim Coakley
2013 Jazz Hero
President, A Place for Jazz

Jim Wilke

2014 Seattle Jazz Hero

“Music is a form of communication without words,” says radio show host Jim Wilke, Seattle’s 2014 Jazz Hero. “I commune with musicians through the sounds they make. It’s an arrangement of sounds and tones over time that isn’t necessarily a story, but I accept it as language.”

In Wilke’s more than five decades of jazz radio broadcasting, his communing with musicians -- and audiences -- continues to expand. He has hosted more than 4,000 jazz shows and adds three or four every week (200 live shows on KING-FM; 3,000 Jazz After Hours on Public Radio International; 650 Jazz Northwest on KPLU) as well as his credits on 60 live commercial recordings, dozens of liner notes and countless concert introductions.

The Jazz Journalists Association has noticed Jim’s prodigiousness, nominating him for the Willis Conover–Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting ten times and conferring the Award on him in 2013. Earshot Jazz had already inducted him into its Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame, in 1993.

While a student at the University of Iowa, Jim played saxophone in a jazz group. He developed his listening style and conceptual understanding by interacting with other musicians and soaking up as many tunes as possible. “If I could think it, I could play it,” he explains. “It just takes attention.”

His career in radio began in Seattle in 1961 at KING-FM, where he produced “Showcase of the Lively Arts” with partner Don Shannon. The hosts invited local artists of all disciplines to dinner and recorded informal conversations with microphones hanging above the dining table.

Their first live broadcast with music was Compline services from St. Mark’s Cathedral. Then in 1962 the Penthouse jazz club opened with top artists like Miles Davis and Art Blakey typically starting on a Thursday night and playing nightly for two weeks. The American Federation of Musicians allowed 30-minute live broadcasts from clubs that employed union members,  and the phone company installed a special line from the club to the radio station. Jim set up a mixing board near the piano and four microphones on stage. Seattle singer Ernestine Anderson was the first artist to be broadcast. September 30, 1965 was another memorable occasion for these broadcasts: the night that John Coltrane’s Live In Seattle was live on-air -- for roughly two and a half hours nonstop -- as well as recorded for release by Impulse! Records.

In 1966, Wilke joined with bassist Chuck Metcalf, lawyer and talk show host Irving Clark and broadcaster Sonny Buxton (a 2013 Bay Area JJA Jazz Hero) to combat the British rock invasion killing gig opportunities for regional jazz artists. They formed the Seattle Jazz Society, enlisted Rainier Brewing as a sponsor and produced concerts at Seward Park. They paired local musicians with national acts on Sunday afternoons when clubs were closed due to blue laws.

These days, Wilke works out of a basement studio in his Greenlake home. The room’s walls are covered floor to ceiling with shelves of cds, and more fill rows of shoulder high bookcases, leaving narrow paths between his desk and the basement stairs. He listens to new music constantly, working at a desk with computer and microphone to piece together his shows. A black-and-white photo of him as a jazz saxophonist is pinned up next to his aging Musicians Union card.

Wilke leans into the microphone as music tapers to silence in his headphones. He announces the title, recording and players. His vowels resonate in a baritone gravel and his consonants tick by crisply. He starts the next cut. Tune in to KPLU Sundays at 2 p.m. to catch the latest Seattle jazz Jim has heard. Sharing sounds is what this Jazz Hero is all about.

Jazz After Hours
-Steve Griggs  
(adapted from an article that appeared in Earshot Jazz)

Geraldine Seay

2014 Tallahassee FL Jazz Hero

Geraldine "Gerri" Seay may seem like the woman behind "the man"- being the wife of prominent jazz bassist Clarence Seay -- but she is a trail blazer and Jazz Hero utterly in her own right. The co-owner of B Sharp's Jazz Café, valued contact in a loose net yet nationwide jazz network, and perhaps not incidentally professor of English at Florida A&M University, Gerri is a prime mover in the local jazz community in Tallahassee, Florida.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gerri fell in love with music at a young age; as a child she studied piano and was a huge fan of the music of Horace Silver. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, received her master's degree from Georgetown University and doctorate from the University of Florida. After finishing that schooling she taught special education for ten years, in Richmond, VA. She met Clarence Seay at a local jazz club there. They married, and she traveled the world with him, on tour with the likes of Horace Silver and Art Blakey, among others.

On the road – especially overseas -- with Clarence, Gerri was entranced by the venues they visited and aspired to set up a similar venue where jazz could be respected as an art. When she joined the faculty at FAMU and settled in Tallahassee, she set out to open that jazz club of her own. She bought the historic landmark "Woman's Working Band House" -- built in 1921 by women of an African American Baptist congregation as an old folk's home, later a WPA Day Care Center, later still the African-American vets' American Legion post --and renovated it.

B Sharp's officially opened in the year of 2008 and has hosted many jazz greats -- Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Roney, Lou Donaldson, Victor Goines and Marcus Roberts, for starters. The Café works closely with members of the jazz faculties at both Florida State University and Florida A&M University to provide students with a venue to sharpen their musical skills as well as see nationally known artists. Gerri's initial vision was to have a venue for concerts, jam sessions, recitals, church services, private parties and master classes to be offered to students and the community, and in B Sharp's she has realized that dream. Students, faculty and Tallahassee residents at large regularly come to see top level musical talent, grab a bite to eat, attend a meeting, private event or church service.

Gerri works very hard, with great dedication, to keep B Sharp's thriving. While teaching full-time at FAMU, she spends three to four nights a week at the club managing the website b-sharps.com, working the bar and serving as general manager. Away from jazz, she's is the mother of two and the grandmother of two. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, active in its community service projects and efforts to empower young women. She is a generous woman – she is a giver. She's a Jazz Hero, having given our area premium access to the beautiful gift of jazz.

-Gerald Watkins Jr.

Patrick Taylor

2014 Toronto Jazz Hero

Since co-founding the TD Toronto Jazz Festival in 1987, Patrick Taylor, Toronto’s 2014 Jazz Hero, has led this FEO (Festival & Events Ontario) Event of Distinction into its current position as one of Canada’s premier festivals. From its modest beginnings with only three official venues, the Festival has grown to annually engage in excess of 1,500 musicians and attract in excess of 500,000 people to more than 40 venues, clubs and stages across the Greater Toronto Area. It has cumulatively hosted over 28,000 artists, contributed in excess of $500 million to the local economy, welcomed almost 10 million people and presented over 3,000 free concerts. Over the years, it has presented some of the biggest names in jazz, internationally known artists including Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Harry Connick Jr., Miles Davis, Diana Krall and Oscar Peterson, to name but a few.

Patrick was recently inducted into the FEO Hall of Fame and has truly been a visionary in Canada. He has also co-produced such notable events as the 100th Anniversary of Massey Hall and Unique Lives and Experiences. A tireless promoter of jazz, he was a founding member of Jazz Festivals Canada and has served on the Boards of the Ken Page Memorial Trust, the Sponsorship Marketing Council of Canada and the Music Advisory Committee at Humber College Toronto.

 I’ve had the good fortune of working with Pat as a staff photographer at the Festival, at a production level for the posthumous Tribute to Oscar Peterson, and for five years side by side on the National Jazz Awards. Such close-quarters collaboration requires locking egos into a secure place and focusing on the task at hand. It also demands flexibility and determination and a deep reservoir of good humor from all partners. The National Jazz Awards was a particularly broad and complicated project that required bringing the jazz nation together. Pat was able to draw on his experience and long term involvement with all the country’s major jazz festivals. His background in business helped construct budgets and goals and keep the event above the water line. His adamant focus on youth resulting in the Awards’ final season being all about new faces and the future, with Darcy James Argue, The Yamaha All-Stars, The Real Divas, Chris Donnelly, the Mario Allard Quintet, Christine & Ingrid Jensen, and the first National Jazz Orchestra (comprised of top students from York University, Humber College and University of Toronto) in the star-studded line-up.

Pat’s interest in youth and community continues at the TD Toronto Jazz Festival through outreach initiatives including Groove and Graffiti, The Inside Track, The Big Band Slam, The Youth Jazz Showcase, Jazz for the Teach, TDJ News Corps and TDJ Special Projects. Jazz, like every creative endeavor, begs for a person of great character and patience to assume the role of leader. Patrick Taylor has done this time and time again with dignity, a broad smile and commitment to excellence.

Patrick Taylor previews his 2010 TD Toronto Jazz Festival

-Bill King
writer, photographer, broadcaster, pianist, composer publisher of The Jazz Report, producer of the National Jazz Awards
author, In Concert! Essays, Images and Interviews

Bobby Hill

2014 Washington D C Jazz Hero

Bobby Hill is the ultimate DC jazz activist – a writer, radio honcho, educator and presenter who has had enormous impact on audiences for more than three decades.

Currently in his 31st consecutive year as a producer, programmer, and on-air host of WPFW, Washington D.C.’s Pacifica radio station (89.3 FM ), Bobby is responsible for the Friday morning edition of “Overnight Jazz – Part I” from midnight to two a.m. He also developed, produced and hosted “The B-Side,” D.C.'s longest continuously running hip-hop program, which aired from 1987 to 1995. His other productions include all-day jazz specials such as "Single Instrument Ensemble Day," month-long tributes like one to pianist Horace Tapscott and his LA-based Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA), a three month celebration of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis 25-year impact on jazz and words-and-music tributes to the recently deceased innovators cornetist/conductor Lawrence Douglas "Butch" Morris and drummer/bandleader/composer Ronald Shannon Jackson.

Bobby was born and raised in Washington, DC, and retired as corporate manager in various information technology areas of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after 28-years of service. All the while he's been a cultural warrior, wearing many hats, each of them righteous.

His writings on music have been published the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Women in the Life magazine and the online jazz journal Point of Departure. In 1997 he became co-founder and principal curator of Transparent Productions, a Washington-based presenter of cutting-edge jazz which has put on nearly 300 performances of national and international artists including Bohemian Caverns' monthly series "Sundays@7@The Caverns," which has included the world premier of bassist/composer William Parker’s Organ Quartet and U.S. premier of Parker’s “Alphaville,” a tribute to filmmaker Jean Luc Goddard for 13-piece ensemble.

Bobby was an adjunct professor of hip-hop culture at George Mason University from 2002 to 2006. From 2007 to 2010 he was program director of WPFW, implementing a new program grid that introduced shows on issues regarding LBGT culture, ex-offenders, parenting, DC politics and poetry. The schedule led to WPFW's greatest growth, with audience numbers increasing by 50,000 and time people spent listening raised by more than 50 per cent.

As Washington City Paper stated in its "Best of DC issue: "Under the auspices of the station's program director jazz guru Bobby Hill, our city has one of the last outputs for jazz in all its varieties.” He is not only a jazz guru -- Bobby Hill himself is one of the Best of DC. The District is lucky indeed to have such a Jazz Hero.

-Mike West
JJA Board Member