2017 Jazz Heroes

2017 JJA Jazz Heroes Atlanta: Sam YiBaltimore: Melvin Miles Jr.Brooklyn: Viola PlummerChicago: Tomeka ReidDetroit: W. Kim HeronLA: Fran Morris RosmanManhattan: Jack KleinsingerMinneapolis: Andrea CanterNew Orleans: Jason PattersonPhiladelphia: J Michael HarrisonPhoenix: Lew ShawPittsburgh: Marty AshbyPortland OR: Darrell GrantSan Diego: Gilbert CastellanosSeattle: Wayne HorvitzSF Bay: Francis Wong/ Jon JangSt. Louis: Richard HendersonTallahassee: Adam GaffneyTucson: Redhouse Family Jazz BandD.C.: Judith KoreyImage HTML map generator

The Jazz Journalists Association is pleased to announce the 2017 Jazz Heroes: Advocates, altruists, activists, 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 by their local fans and friends in conjunction with the JJA's annual Jazz Awards honoring significant achievements in jazz music and journalism.

 1. Atlanta: Sam Yi
 2. Baltimore: Melvin Miles, Jr.
 3. Brooklyn: Viola Plummer
 4. Chicago: Tomeka Reid
 5. Detroit: W. Kim Heron
 6. Los Angeles: Fran Morris Rosman
 7. Manhattan NYC: Jack Kleinsinger
 8. Minneapolis-St.Paul: Andrea Canter
 9. New Orleans: Jason Patterson
10. Philadelphia: J. Michael Harrison
11. Phoenix: Lew Shaw
12. Pittsburgh: Marty Ashby
13. Portland OR: Darrell Grant
14. San Diego: Gilbert Castellanos
15. Seattle: Wayne Horvitz
16. SF Bay Area:  Francis Wong & Jon Jang
17. St. Louis: Richard Henderson
18. Tallahassee FL: Adam Gaffney
19. Tucson: Redhouse Family Jazz Band
20. Washington D.C.: Judith Korey

Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to all the 2017 Jazz Heroes.
The Heroes will receive their awards at public events in their communities.

Sam Yi

2017 Atlanta Jazz Hero

For nearly 20 years, the City of Atlanta was home to the jazz club Churchill Grounds. Located downtown next to the Fox Theater until it closed on July 31, 2016, Churchill Grounds was the brainchild of Korean immigrant Sam Yi. To this Jazz Hero, running a jazz club is more than a business -- it is a calling.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Sam came to the U.S. as a child with his parents, who arrived in California on a work visa to join the Army Corps of Engineers. When Sam was 11, his family relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. His earliest recollection of jazz is as a youth hearing his mother’s Nat King Cole trio records.

As one of few Asians, unable to speak English fluently, in a school enforcing desegregation by busing in a mix of black and white students, Sam did not find his new environment easy. Eventually, due to his affable personality backed up by his skills at the martial art Tae Kwon Do, he gained peers’ respect.

By 1980 Sam and his family had become naturalized citizens of the United States. Yi attended a private Christian high school. He received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee where he studied engineering, economics and business. Exploiting his bilingual ability, he became a buyer for Pier 1 Imports in Atlanta. Recreationally, he started hanging out with hipsters who were into Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk. It was his discovery of John Coltrane's album with vocalist Johnny Hartman that turned him into the enthusiast he is today and launched his dream of running a European style jazz café.

Yi learned the restaurant/bar business from the ground up, for five years waiting tables, bartending and eventually managing Café Intermezzo in Buckhead. He opened his own café, named for his love of Churchill-style cigars and coffee grounds, on May 1, 1997.

Atlanta had recently lost Just Jazz, a premiere venue, and Yi was able to book local piano legend Johnny O’Neal at his new club for a six-night-a-week trio residency. With O’Neal came the community of musicians, aficionados and casual listeners. After O’Neal moved to New York, Yi kept the momentum going, attracting top-notch regional talent and occasionally out-of-town stars on tour. He provided seasoned Atlanta-based musicians with a home to test new material before receptive audiences, and younger ones with opportunities to sit in and hone their skills. He enabled mutually beneficial, creative, symbiotic relationships in a warm setting that made Atlanta a better place, and the community responded by happily attending, a cycle of mutual reinforcement.

For the past two decades Yi has indefatigably dedicated himself to Atlanta's jazz world, often at the expense of his finances and personal life. Undeterred when Churchill Grounds was forced to close, he continued, presenting pop-up jazz jam sessions at Mason Tavern in Decatur. Now he’s agreed to become a partner there. Win-win for Atlanta and our Jazz Hero!
-- Ralph A. Miriello

Sam Yi's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 22 8:30 p.m. 
Mason Tavern, 1371 Clairmont Road NE, Atlanta

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Melvin Miles, Jr.

2017 Baltimore Jazz Hero

Melvin Miles, Jr., Baltimore native and graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, is being celebrated, with encouragement of the Jazz Journalists Association, as our city’s 2017 Jazz Hero. We hail him for his tireless work making music here, and from here. Miles is a stalwart. He not only received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees in Music Education from Morgan State University -- the Historic Black College this year celebrating its 150th birthday -- but has remained steadfast at his alma mater since joining the faculty as a 22-year-old in 1973. Melvin is the Director of University Bands and an Instructor of Music at MSU, the conductor of the MSU Symphonic Band and the MSU Jazz Ensemble. In addition he directs the Morgan State University Marching Band "The Magnificent Marching Machine," the "Bear Band" (pep band), the MSU Jazz Quintet and the Morgan State University Brass Ensemble. As an instructor in the Fine Arts Department, he teaches Applied Trumpet, Instrumental Music Methods and Brass Methods, and coordinates the wind, percussion and string faculty. An active conductor and arranger, Miles maintains an energetic performance schedule guesting with diverse symphonic and jazz honor bands, adjudicating competitions, and presenting workshops and seminars nationwide on all styles and types of music and music education, He has written numerous charts performed by the Morgan State ensembles and thus heard throughout the nation during the football and basketball seasons. For many years he composed, adapted and arranged scores as musical director for the Encore Dinner Theater. You may have seen him, since he appeared in as well as arranged and performed several selections for Barry Levinson's Baltimore-steeped Hollywood hit movies Diner and Avalon.
This spring Miles is music director of the MSU and Murphy Fine Arts Center's production of The Wiz. He's incorporating a local youth choir into the program. He's also leading the 20-piece MSU Jazz Ensemble in music of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and jazzed-up Michael Jackson repertoire. Active in fraternal and professional organizations, he was given Kappa Kappa Psi’s highest award, "The Distinguished Service to Music Medal," in 2003 for his work as a musician and educator nurturing generations of skilled, disciplined and eventually professional jazz musicians. Perhaps the most enthusiastic assessment of Melvin Miles, Jr.'s lifelong commitment to education, jazz and indeed music of all genres comes from Karl Stewart, one of his former students, now himself an educator: "I know he works without the expectation of acknowledgement, but I had to pause to pay tribute to a great educator. Miles, thank you, thank you, thank you for being such an influence in my life and the lives of others…You truly make a difference!" In our Jazz Hero's own words, "I'm working on unity, peace and love. With all the things that have been going on in our community, we’re trying to figure out ways to promote that throughout all seasons." Putting such effort into music, Melvin Miles, Jr. truly makes a difference.
-- Don Palmer

Melvin Miles, Jr.'s Jazz Hero award presentation TBA

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Viola Plummer

2017 Brooklyn Jazz Hero

Veteran political strategist, educator and business woman with a passion for culture and the  international African community, Viola Plummer is 80-years-young and unstoppable! She is chairperson of the December 12th Movement, a black human rights organization currently celebrating its 30th birthday, and the founder-operator of Sistas' Place, a coffee house established in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in 1995.

Under Viola’s guidance in the course of the past 22 years Sistas' Place has become an irreplaceable cultural institution at the heart of the borough and influential far beyond it, with programming based on live performances by A-list jazz and blues musicians.

Sistas' Place obtained honorary landmark status by the New York State legislature in 2015 for its extraordinary contribution to the people of Bed-Stuy. Setting it up was not Ms. Plummer's first time laying foundations for local arts. "Years ago, in the wake of needing to have somewhere musicians could play, we started a series in Harlem called 'Jazz Comes to Fight Back,'" she says of an earlier venture. "And the first person we presented, at the old Music & Art High School, was Wynton Marsalis, when he had first come onto the scene. We understood even then that jazz expressed who we were, and talked about our humanity and our values. It was in the music, it was in the rhythms, it was in the melodies and the riffs."

She is emphatic about the inseparability of culture from politics. The Jazz Journalists Association's Award is not an explicit endorsement of her political perspective, but does acknowledge the tenacity of her activism. "The December 12th Movement was a way for us to say to the people that struggle is for liberation and there is no struggle for struggles' sake," she says. "Art is that expression, and the music has saved our lives. From the blues to the gospel, to jazz, to r&b, it has really saved our lives. And as for the December 12th movement -- people have heard our politics better as a result of the music. From Africa, to Brooklyn, to Harlem, to Goshen… It was always the music, it was always the dance."

The December 12th Movement describes itself as an International Secretariat, a non-governmental organization with consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It has participated in the Commission on Human Rights since 1989 representing the interests of Africans in the United States, has established independent alliances with various nations and organizations, and its work has resulted in judicial hearings on racism and summary executions in the United States. That's some serious stuff.

So is music like that featured at Sistas' Place. The signature slogan there is “Culture is a weapon!” Viola Plummer, Jazz Hero, wields her weapon with precision and love!
-- Ron Scott
Viola Plummer's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 22 7:30 p.m. 
Sistas' Place, 456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn

Tomeka Reid

2017 Chicago Jazz Hero

"I was always an eager student in high school music classes, trying to get everyone to practice, and so I ended up conducting the orchestra for my graduation ceremonies," says Tomeka Reid, cellist, composer, educator and 2017 Chicago Jazz Hero. Now age 39, Tomeka believes she came late to jazz – which she defines loosely, as music with improvisation at its core – but has made up for any lost time over the past decade by raising the profile and acceptance of her instrument, as well as violin and viola, by independently producing a String Summit she hopes to make annual, as an outgrowth of her ongoing teaching, performing and recording.

Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Ms. Reid picked up her instrument in grade school. Like all students, she began in the classical tradition, which she took quite seriously, eager to master the repertoire. Her college mentor Sais Kamalidiin, suggested she might try other approaches. "Traditional string pedagogy at the secondary and university levels doesn't really encourage string players (to improvise," she says, "even though there's a history of it in Baroque music, with soloists in some concertos expected to come up with their own cadenzas." The rise of the composer during the 19th century Romantic era may have supplanted those functions, but Reid was clear-sighted in realizing that "as a string player today, just for purposes of working, it's helpful to have more options, be able to play in more styles and get off the page."

Enamored of Chicago from a brief train layover when she was a child, Reid moved here in 2000 to pursue a Masters degree at DePaul University. She worked at the door of HotHouse, an arts space where a broad range of music was presented, and took a post as assistant orchestra director at University of Chicago's Lab School. She met flutist Nicole Mitchell while playing in the Classical Symphony Orchestra which held weekly rehearsals downtown through the summer, led by Joseph Glymph. The two took to each other like sisters. Mitchell further encouraged Reid to loosen up and play.

Tomeka did so, joining Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, making music with vocalist Dee Alexander and drummer Mike Reed, among others, and sitting in frequently at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge. Even as she was asked to participate in more jazz and improvisational contexts, she wanted her skills to be scrupulous, and enrolled in a Doctor of Musical Arts program at University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana. She gets her diploma this spring.

Through the past decade, demand for Tomeka's contributions as a side-person, collaborator and ensemble leader have grown exponentially. She's also developed herself as a teaching artist, at the Vancouver Summer Jazz Festival for five years, giving workshops in the U.S. and abroad with the improvising string collective Hear in Now, and serving as artist-in-residence at the Arts Incubator, an open gallery and performance space in Bronzeville, the historically African-American district where she lives.

"The String Summit idea came up in 2010," she explains. "James Sanders [a creative violinist] and I were joking around, talking about how Chicago has a summit for drummers and horn players. Shouldn't there be something for us string players?" Tomeka produced her first such event at the Arts Incubator in 2013, a free event spanning two nights, involving over a dozen musicians. After a hiatus in '14 and '15 as her touring schedule interfered, the Summit re-convened last year, in part crowd-funded on a platform sponsored by Chicago's 3Arts foundation, and fees earned from one of Reid's recorded tracks, licensed by the Allstate Insurance Company.

The String Summit returns May 12 and 13, with performances at Elastic Arts and Constellation that will feature ten instrumentalists (including out-of-towners) involved in a round robin of duos and solos. At the same time, Tomeka has new cds dropping from Hear In Now (with Silvia Bolognesi and Mazz Swift) and a duo with Chicago alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarella. She's composing for a new album by her quartet, and will be in residency throughout June at Roulette in Brooklyn (she's spending more time in New York City, but is a Chicago true believer).

"I go from one thing to another. I want to do everything," Reid says a little sheepishly. "But Chicago has given me so much I'd love to have the Summit be the premiere string festival in the country, and to have it here." Chicago wants it, and more from Jazz Hero Tomeka Reid.
-- Howard Mandel

Tomeka Reid's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 14 6-8 p.m. 
Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, Chicago

W. Kim Heron

2017 Detroit Jazz Hero

W. Kim Heron has woven himself into the fabric of Detroit's jazz tapestry in an extraordinary manner over his 40 year career, as a journalist, radio host, emcee, public interviewer, essayist, historian,and percussionist whose sure hands on the bongos make him welcome to sit in at sets all over town.

Heron’s professional immersion in the Motor City scene began when he worked for the Detroit Free Press in the late 1970s. Covering the fertile ground of Detroit jazz, he wrote features, reviews and interviews, previewed local gigs and touring concerts, and -- most crucially -- became a friend to many musicians, jazz business leaders and fans. Beyond music and culture, he made a name for himself as a copy editor.

Later, during the course of his 16 years as managing editor then editor of the Metro Times, he made sure jazz was a vital component of the newspaper’s cultural coverage, while also overseeing award-winning investigative reports. "Musician Interrupted," a piece Heron wrote in 2003 and reprinted in the recently published Heaven Was Detroit: From Jazz to Hip-Hop and Beyond (2016, WSU Press), shows the love, dedication, style and thorough reporting he has always brought to his subjects (this time, the enigma that was saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey). In honor of his professionalism, Heron was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame in 2013.

However, in other media: Heron’s Sunday night shows “Destination Out" and "The W. Kim Heron Program" on on WDET (101.9) have for almost 15 years introduced countless listeners to musical adventure, feeding ears hungry for the most progressive sounds of every era. And even now, although he has full-time responsibilities as senior communications officer at the Kresge Foundation, he can also be found giving talks at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, joining a panel discussion at a Detroit Sound Conservancy event or announcing a show from the stage at Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall.

As a host and emcee, Heron is known to be generous with his time and an absolutely class act. Deferential and always well informed, he knows that the reason people have gathered is to hear the musicians and their music .Yet his elegant, gentlemanly presence always adds another layer of harmony to a jazz event. Jazz Heroism in person -- that’s W. Kim Heron.
-- Larry Gabriel
Kim Heron's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 18, 8 p.m. 
Cliff Bell's Jazz Club, 2030 Park Ave, Detroit

Fran Morris Rosman

2017 Los Angeles Jazz Hero 

"It's all about Ella this year!" insisted Fran Morris Rosman, executive director of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, when the JJA asked for some personal details to celebrate Fran herself -- a Los Angeles-based Jazz Hero who tends the great singer's humanitarian legacy, and has stimulated world-wide celebrations scheduled for Ella's centennial.

This is indeed Ella's year -- she was born April 25, 1917 -- but her iconic presence wouldn't be what it is today without the labors Fran, a former librarian who has turned her attentions wholeheartedly to the task of benefiting those she believes Ella would have wanted to help, besides keeping her image and music before the public. When cutting the ribbon at the "First Lady of Song" exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, showing up at the listening party held by NPR for the National Endowment of the Arts' Jazz Masters, contributing a monthly column of Ella-related tidbits and music trivia to the Jazz Education Network newsletter, monitoring Ella tributes in Brazil, Canada, Finland and Sweden beside the U.S. (at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, for instance), maintaining the EFCF website and Facebook page, supervising the collection, digitization and archival security of Ella's personal items and effects (now deposited and/or on display at the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and also the new Museum of African-American Music opening in Nashville) and especially when dispensing small fiscal grants – which cannot be applied for or solicited – Fran has big fun doing what she does, conveying Ella's upbeat aura through her own.

She has been with the Foundation officially since 1996, when Ella died, but Fran's husband Richard Rosman was the attorney for Norman Granz's Pablo Records artists, Ella Fitzgerald among them, so she has really been there since it was established in 1993 (Richard still sits on the Foundation's small board). Projects recently supported include the Los Angeles community environmental work of TreePeople, programs at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, and City of Hope (focused on cancer research and treatment). The EFCF also has supported the University of Southern California, L.A.'s A Place Called Home (promoting after-school academic enrichment), the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance, and Guide Dogs of America. There are Ella Fitzgerald scholarships for music students at Michael Feinstein's Great American Songbook Academy, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Cal State, Northridge as well as for nursing students at California State, LA. Fran is especially proud of the "A Book Just for Me" giveaway program, supplying 100,000 new, age-appropriate books annually to kids in need, which she directs personally.

"Ella loved kids and loved books, and I was a children's librarian," she explains. Fran had studied at the University of Chicago Library School, and previously was an assistant archivist at the Los Angeles Music Center, besides working at the University Synagogue in LA for 27 years.

She recalls as a child watching Ella on 1960s television variety shows, and her musical preferences are for Ella's straightforward vocals and songbook albums rather than her bebop-inspired scat extrapolations. But she loves it all, and the wider world in which she has become a key participant, consultant, enabler and benefactor in Ella Fitzgerald's name. For further evidence, see the EFCF's website and Facebook page.

"I have the best job!" Fran exults. "I wake up every day and do good deeds! I use 'Ella Fitzgerald' for my email address and work with the best people in the world, with organizations I think of as Mount Olympus! You know, Ella's collection of cookbooks is at Harvard!" Just as Ella and Jazz Hero Fran Morris Rosman would have it.
- Howard Mandel

Photo: National Museum of American History

Fran Morris Rosman's Jazz Hero award presentation TBA

Jack Kleinsinger

2017 Manhattan NYC Jazz Hero

Jack Kleinsinger is the producer and artistic director of Highlights in Jazz, New York City's longest-running jazz concert series, founded in 1973 at the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel at Astor Place in Greenwich Village) and presented over the years at Hunter College, New York University, Pace University and now at Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

For more than 20 years, Highlights was Jack's sideline: He has been a teacher, lecturer and candidate for public office, and was an Assistant Attorney General of the State of New York before retiring in 1991. But inspired by Norman Granz, producer of Jazz at the Philharmonic, Jack has all along brought personal enthusiasm to his presentations, curating all performances, coordinating public relations, technical assistance and fundraising, succeeding for more than 45 years and over 360 jazz concerts to attract audiences for such greats as Doc Cheatham, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Maxine Sullivan, Louie Bellson, Buddy Rich, Dave Brubeck, Roy Eldridge, Billy Taylor, Billy Higgins, Bobby Hackett, Cab Calloway, Art Farmer, Woody Herman, and hundreds more.

In addition to Highlights, Jack has produced concerts in NYC schools, colleges and prisons; co-produced programs for the Newport Jazz Festival; stage managed at the Nice Jazz Festival in France, and taught jazz courses at NYU. He's been a consultant the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland and produced children's jazz programs for the Boston Globe Festival in Massachusetts and the Sarasota, Florida Jazz Society. He recently received an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree from the University of North Florida, to which he has donated the Highlights in Jazz archives comprising audio recordings, concert flyers, reviews, photos and more than 300 videos in which he discusses each concert.

Now 80, Jack continues producing and presenting. He's very old school – you have to call him to tell him you've emailed him. He's also a bit of a hambone. Get him in the right mood and he'll tell a million jazz stories.

Since presenting french horn genre-defier David Amram in March, Jack continues his 2017 series with “Women In Jazz” on Thursday, April 6, 2017, featuring Cynthia Sayer and her Joyride Band and vocalist René Marie with her trio plus special guest Leonieke Scheuble, the International Women in Jazz Youth in Action Award winner. The JJA will present Jack Kleinsinger with his Jazz Hero Award at – where else? -- that Highlights in Jazz concert. A big bravo!
-- Jim Eigo
Photo: Jim Eigo
Jack Kleinsinger's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 6, 8 p.m.
Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St. on the BMCC Campus, Manhattan

Andrea Canter 

2017 Minneapolis-St. Paul Jazz Hero

Andrea Canter established deep roots in the Twin Cities jazz community in 2004, upon assuming her position as senior editor and photographer for a locally based website, JazzPolice.com (co-founded by Don Berryman). From that time forth, she has published award-winning photographs of resident, national and international artists performing at renowned jazz venues, small clubs, house parties and diverse outdoor festivals, including the well-respected Twin Cities Jazz Festival (established 2002, this year running June 22 - 24).

Andrea is an approachable professional, often exhibiting her wry sense of humor when encountered on the scene. When on assignment, though – especially when her camera is pointed at what may be a historic moment – she is focused and exudes a high level of confidence, saying with poised body language and total concentration, "That's it!"

Well-informed and always insightful in her commentary, Canter gives credence to the historical significance of jazz in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She possesses encyclopedic knowledge of jazz musicians, especially those Twin City residents who've kept up the music's traditions of performance, education and mentoring locally. She is comfortable covering artists playing early jazz as well as the growing avant-garde scene, and has been crucial in support of new performance venues including Jazz Central Studios, Vieux Carré, Jazz at Reverie Cafe & Bar, the Dunsmore Room and the Black Dog Café. Her much appreciated work has appeared in DownBeat and JazzTimes, the daily Star Tribune, weekly City Pages and publications such as Twin Cities Business Magazine and Minnesota Monthly.

Canter is senior editor for JazzPolice.com, blogs at JazzINK.com,  and responsible for producing "The Lead Sheet," a weekly feature on Jazz88, the singular Twin Cities jazz radio station. You'll run into her at Midwestern jazz festivals, documenting everyone with reviews that end up in regionally-based online sites.

Here are Andrea's own words about being a jazz photographer:

"I got my first camera -- a Brownie Star Flash -- when I was eight, graduated to an Instamatic as a young teen, an Olympus rangefinder for college graduation and my first SLR when I was 30. I migrated to digital about 25 years later . . . and here I am. For the past ten years I have worked primarily as a jazz blogger and performance photographer, returning more recently to my 'roots' in exploring the natural world and the angles and abstractions of urban scenes and details. I am no longer a purist and find inspiration -- but not necessarily final satisfaction -- in nature and landscape. Some images just ask me to take them somewhere else."

That's a jazz way of being: engaging functionally with the world, channeling one's sources and feeling free, too, to go with creative impulses. As a media professional, Andrea Canter is more than a resource. She offers comprehensive, online and in-print history-in-the-now with all due continuity. Jazz Police is Jazz Hero!
-- Janis Lane-Ewart 
Andrea Canter's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 29 8:30 p.m.
Black Dog Cafe308 Prince St, St. Paul MN

Jason Patterson

2017 New Orleans Jazz Hero

For the better part of three decades, Snug Harbor talent buyer Jason Patterson has provided New Orleans jazz fans with access to a wide-ranging mix of some of the world’s most talented jazz artists. His work at Snug has arguably cemented the club’s reputation as one of the top jazz venues in the country, while having positive impact on the careers of a dizzying number of local musicians.

Those accomplishments themselves have been essential to the development of the New Orleans jazz community through the years, but Patterson’s devotion to jazz in the city extends far beyond the club's walls. Since the early 1990s Patterson has worked tirelessly to educate audiences – young and old, music-savvy and otherwise -- about America's indigenous art form.

As president of the non-profit New Orleans Jazz Celebration, Patterson has helped increase access to New Orleans jazz through free, family-friendly programs like the Nickel-a-Dance concert series he created to promote traditional jazz, the organization's education-meets-performance series of "Informances" and various international outreach programs.

Patterson's simultaneous 20-plus-year production of the Jazz at the Sandbar series at the University of New Orleans has developed a key element of that school's jazz program as well as the city's scene, giving young players a chance to perform with and learn from seasoned artists such as Johnny Vidacovich, Cyrus Chestnut, Nicholas Payton and Ingrid Jensen.

Through all of these endeavors, Patterson has approached his work with a genuine commitment to serving New Orleans artists while helping to sustain the music he so clearly loves. He's a true Jazz Hero, in the eyes of the New Orleans' jazz journalists.
– Jennifer Odell
Jason Patterson's Jazz Hero award presentation:
April 26, 4-5 p.m.
Louisiana State Museum and New Orleans Jazz Museum's Old U.S. Mint, 
400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans

J. Michael Harrison

2017 Philadelphia Jazz Hero

J. Michael Harrison is the preeminent jazz DJ in Philadelphia, now in his 24th year on the air.  His first program, "Is That Jazz?" ran for three years on Philadelphia station WPEB, and from there he moved to WRTI, the jazz station affiliated with Temple University. "The Bridge" was the program he created at the new station, and it's still running, in its 20th year.

The bridge Mike had in mind was one that could connect different generations of listeners, the kind of radio that was disappearing rapidly when he began his career, now almost completely gone. Surely, he thought, there must be something in the musics of the young, the old and those in the middle that could reach across the divide. But what?

His answer was a four-hour personal mixtape he has lovingly prepared to be broadcast via radiowaves to the whole community. On a recent evening the first two hours of Harrison's playlist included John Zorn, Gil Scott Heron, a live performance led by Philadelphia drummer G. Calvin Weston, the Ohio Players, Henry Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith, Zap Mama, Logan Richardson, Papo Vazquez, Linda Sharrock, the Rebirth Brass Band, Edwin Birdsong, the Claudia Quartet and the University of the Arts Graduate Ensemble. In the wrong hands such a program might be a mere oddity; Harrison's thoughtful sequencing and witty commentary turn it into brilliant collage.

"The Bridge" is far more than recordings, however. Local and out-of-town musicians, sometimes with entire bands, as well as poets, artists, writers and singers are regularly featured in interviews and discussions, often with live on-air performances. Some of Harrison's favorite studio events were when reedsmen Prince Lasha, Odean Pope and Byard Lancaster played together, when actor Roger Guenveur Smith co-hosted, and an appearance by neo-soul singer Jill Scott.

Students from high school and college classes are often WRTI's studio audience, as Harrison is deeply involved with local education (he himself teaches). He believes in giving young performers radio exposure; his promotion of local events has been critical to their success in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and he often produces or participates in concerts at local venues such as the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Painted Bride Art Center. Mike’s involvement in attempts to make the John Coltrane house in Philadelphia a landmark and center for art education is typical of his community involvement, as is his work promoting campaigns that encourage donations to non-profits of musical instruments for young players.

J. Michael Harrison also shares in the hosting of “Late Evening Jazz,” a three-hour celebration of acoustic music. He's earned local awards such as Philadelphia Magazine's prize for "Best Radio Program," but his hard work and passion for the music deserves to be recognized, reaffirmed and rewarded as that of a Jazz Hero -- at home and beyond.
– John Szwed
J. Michael Harrison's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 12, 8 p.m. 

SEI Innovation Studio, The Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia


Lew Shaw

2017 Phoenix Jazz Hero

Lew Shaw admits he can't sing and he doesn't play an instrument. But over the past 30 years he has become a Jazz Hero as a chronicler for various publications of jazz events and musicians nationally, and a producer, promoter and advocate for the performance and perpetuation of classic jazz in Arizona.

Lew grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts during the big band era, listening to remote broadcasts from ballrooms across the country and occasionally catching a touring band on the bill with a movie at a theater in his hometown. "That was our entertainment," he says, referring to those pre-television and Internet days.

Lew is a World War II Navy veteran and a graduate of Brown University. His first venture into jazz journalism was as the publicist for the Berkshire Music Barn in Lenox, Massachusetts, where for three summers he promoted concerts featuring such stars as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck and Stan Getz.

When Lew and his wife Carol moved to Arizona in 1984, he became an instigator in the formation of the Arizona Classic Jazz Society, which grew to 1,000 members, and subsequently its annual festival. He served on the ACJS Board, did the marketing for the two entities and edited the Society newsletter for ten years.

He served for six years on the Board of the American Federation of Jazz Societies, including three years as national president. Under his leadership, AFJS became an effective networking and communications organization for jazz societies and festivals, sponsoring workshops throughout the United State.

Perhaps most influentially, for three decades he has been a key writer and columnist for several jazz publications, currently the Syncopated Times, a monthly "exploring the World of Hot Jazz, Ragtime and Swing." Lew is also author of Jazz Beat: Notes on Classic Jazz, profiles of musicians he has interviewed. He focuses on today's champions who share authentic jazz with younger generations, enlightening the uninitiated that real jazz is alive, well and deserves as well as rewards participation.

In reviewing Jazz Beat, fellow jazz journalist Cam Miller wrote: “Lew Shaw is my kind of writer: a gifted wordsmith who has mastered the technique of writing inside out. Some writers often get in the way of their subjects. But Shaw is a master at keeping his subject in the foreground. Ergo, his interviews leave readers with the impression they are overhearing friendly and enlightening conversations that wind up in print.”

Lew earned his expertise over a professional life in which he has been a sportswriter, newspaper editor, corporate public relations manager, advertising agency CEO and non-profit association executive. A community activist, he has been a director or officer of more than 30 civic, health, educational and sports-oriented organizations. For all this, we treasure Lew Shaw as our Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona Jazz Hero.
-- Helen Daley
Lew Shaw's Jazz Hero award presentation by the Arizona Classic Jazz Society: 
April 23, 1 p.m. 

Ballroom, Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort
1 San Marcos Place, Chandler, AZ


Marty Ashby

2017 Pittsburgh Jazz Hero

Marty Ashby is an essential member of the jazz community in Pittsburgh, regarded for a long time as a Jazz Hero. Best known as the executive producer of MCG Jazz, having founded the program at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in 1987 and for 30 years guiding it in presenting over 2500 concerts, hundreds of educational events and producing 50 commercially released CDs, Marty is even further indispensable as an educator and advocate, tirelessly working to preserve and promote jazz as a whole, especially enabling our resident Pittsburgh musicians.

Many of our local jazz artists do not have the opportunities or means to document their work, and since jazz musicians continue to develop their skills as they age, it's important to continually note their evolution. Ashby strives to document the "Pittsburgh Sound." He has provided expertise for studio productions, captured Pittsburgh legends' oral histories and sometimes even counseled and arranged for musicians to update their promotional materials.

His devotion is full-hearted. For example: In mid 2014, Pittsburgh jazz pianist David Budway asked Ashby to help record his sister, classical and jazz vocalist Maureen Budway, a beloved and talented local vocalist who had never had her own album and as suffering from cancer. Marty fast-tracked all stages of the project to deliver a beautifully finished product – a pressed-and-manufactured-for-retail-sale CD – to Maureen and her family on Christmas Eve, less than three weeks before she passed away. A happier story, in progress: Marty's now helping Frank Cunimondo, another Pittsburgh piano legend, age 83, record his fresh, new music.

Marty has also sustained jazz beyond Pittsburgh. He's been an advisor for the International Association of Jazz Educators, the National Jazz Service Organization, the JazzTimes convention, Jazz Alliance International, the Jazz Appreciation Month programming committee, Quincy Jones MusiQ Consortium and currently the Jazz Forward Coalition. He has been a panelist considering jazz grant applications for state arts councils, regional arts organizations, private foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts.  He has freely consulted with scads of organizations seeking musicians for events.

Marty also gives private guitar lessons to young players – usually for free. Several of his students have gone on to professional careers. In recent years he's coached the jazz ensemble at a local high school, weekly offering students experiences well beyond what's typically available to them. We’re pleased to officially celebrate Marty Ashby as what we've known he is all along: a Jazz Hero.
-- Renee J. Govanucci
Photo: Wade Massie

Marty Ashby's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 8, 5:30 p.m.
MCG pre-concert discussion
Manchester Craftsmen's Guild,1815 Metropolitan Street, Pittsburgh

Darrell Grant

2017 Portland OR Jazz Hero

Even though his 1994 album The Black Art made the New York Times’s list of the year's top ten jazz recordings, pianist Darrell Grant wasn't satisfied.

"I didn’t feel my music was having the kind of impact I wanted," he recalls. He was 32 at the time. "I was looking for a place where I could make a contribution and serve. Where I could try to connect the music more with the community."

So in 1996, when a position in Portland State University's music department opened up, Darrell was ready. In the years since, this Denver native has created a vital place for himself in the area, well deserving celebration as Portland's 2017 Jazz Hero.

After resettling here 21 years ago, Grant continued to record and perform while helping to introduce and develop a degree program in jazz at PSU. He launched and managed the university's jazz club, LV's Uptown, designed to connect students with a living jazz culture, and gained local notice by playing onstage nearly every week. He borrowed collaborative strategies he'd observed from nonprofit arts groups to partner with businesses and government agencies in building jazz in Portland.

Grant's public activity led to what he'd come for: "A place where you walk down the street and people know who you are." In notes for his 1999 album Smokin' Java he fictionalizes an epiphany: A jazz pianist caps his day-long odyssey with a coffeehouse performance where he gets the acceptance he's sought and realizes that his adopted city is a pretty good place to be.

The lesson, Grant says, is, "Community is not something you find, it's something you open yourself to, and that opens to you in return."

Indeed, being part of this community has led Grant to more fully be himself. When he arrived, he had a bachelor's degree in classical piano and a graduate degree in jazz studies. He'd gained credibility and acclaim playing in bands led by Roy Haynes and Betty Carter, among others. But in Portland, he learned to define success in a different way. (Among other things, he happily became a father).

"Being here, I've been encouraged to explore my own personal vision, and I've had the opportunity to do it,' Grant says. No other jazz projects have captured the landscape and history of this region like his epic suite The Territory, in seven movements for nine-piece ensemble and singer-narrator. Including paeans to our scenic splendors as well as a section on The Golden West Hotel, Portland's first African-American establishment, The Territory addresses on a grand scale the sense of place most jazz made in the Pacific Northwest touches only tangentially.

"My hypothesis was that music is shaped by a connection to the terrain — both the physical place and the community from which it springs," Grant says. "Can I capture that sound? I've always been trying to get at it in some way in every piece. . . . If we can make ourselves sensitive to this place, then all the stuff that has happened here will affect us. I wanted to tap into that collective memory."

Darrell Grant, Jazz Hero, both taps into Portland's collective memory and adds immeasurably to it.
 -- Lynn Darroch
Darrell Grant's Jazz Hero award presentation by PDX Jazz: 
April 30, 3 p.m. 
Whitsett Theater Portland Art Museum
1219 SW Park Ave Portland, OR

Gilbert Castellanos

2017 San Diego Jazz Hero

Trumpet master Gilbert Castellanos would be a "jazz hero" anywhere simply on the basis of his startling skills on the instrument and unending energy for honoring and extending the jazz tradition. He is a ubiquitous bandleader of multiple ensembles, a member of the Los Angeles-based Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra -- he travels 90 miles to perform with that group -- and director of the San Diego Symphony's jazz series. But Castellanos has done something much more profound than embodying the definition of "virtuoso." Through years of devotion, he has become the voice of the San Diego jazz community.

Born in Guadalajara, where his father led a cumbia band, Gilbert listened to jazz from his California grammar school days on. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in Boston and California Institute of the Arts in Valencia before landing in San Diego in the mid '90s. Once here, he almost immediately began hosting jam sessions, a practice he continues in order to advance his chief concern: Shaping the next generations of musicians.

Castellanos does this through two distinct yet interrelated institutions: his Young Lions Series, which showcases players as young as nine in weekly Wednesday night performances at Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, and the International Academy of Jazz, the after-school program of which he’s artistic director, aiming to feed the top ranks of musicians nationwide.

These programs have transformed the lives of dozens of nascent musicians, resulting in scholarships to music programs at Berklee, North Texas State University, University of Southern California, UCLA and San Jose State University, among other institutions. What Castellanos offers high school seniors isn't limited to advice and inspiration -- he also gives many of them Wednesday session gigs.

"I want to invest my time into the future of jazz," Castellanos says. "I think it's extremely important to pass that torch down to the next generation. I want to teach these kids to play jazz the way I was taught when I was their age. I was lucky enough to hang out with Dizzy Gillespie and all the greats and they showed me things that you cannot learn in school. You have to be school smart and street smart. I've done both."

Which is why the Young Lions Series is so dear to him. "My mission is to have a night and a venue dedicated to young musicians. Now they can showcase their talent and I'm able to present them where they can get the experience and feeling of a real-life performance."

Castellanos considers the San Diego jazz community his extended family and acts on that belief. When I suffered a stroke in 2015, Gilbert was the first to offer help, organizing a benefit concert that helped me survive while I recovered. He's demonstrated such generosity countless times, anchoring benefits for ailing musicians including tenor saxophonists Gary LeFebvre and Daniel Jackson and trumpeter Bill Caballero.

Musically, Castellanos has made a deep impression across the spectrum of world-class improvisers. "His fire and mastery of the music is only equaled by his consistent dedication to the perpetuation of the tradition through his mentoring of younger players," writes avant-garde bassist Mark Dresser. Bebop alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, who first brought Gilbert into professional jazz, says, "He isn't just a wonderful trumpet player. He's willing to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the youngsters. That’s a very admirable quality." It is the very essence of Gilbert Castellanos, Jazz Hero.
-- Robert Bush
Photo: SteveCovault.com
Gilbert Castellanos's Jazz Hero award presentation 
April 26, 8 p.m. 
Panama 66, 1450 El Prado,  Balboa Park,  San Diego

Wayne Horvitz

2017 Seattle Jazz Hero

Pianist Wayne Horvitz stays busy. He teaches, performs, composes and is a partner in a venue, all accomplished without benefit of time travel or cloning. Anywhere music is happening in Seattle, he is likely to appear. His height doesn’t help him stand out, but he's easy to spot because he rarely leaves home without something on his head. His steady gaze is framed by rectangular wire rims under the skinny brim of a fedora, trilby or pork pie. New York downtown style is visible in his garb -- in our rainy, stereotypically flannel plaid seaport, he usually wears a sport coat.

If Wayne isn't teaching high school students in his New Works Ensemble at Seattle JazzED, he's mentoring undergraduates as an adjunct professor of composition at Cornish College of the Arts. On stage, he leads The Royal We, Electric Circus, Zony Mash, Gravitas Quartet, Sweeter Than the Day, The Four Plus One Ensemble and The Royal Room Collective Ensemble. His greatest impact on the local music scene comes from his partnership with Tia Matthies and Steve Freeborn operating The Royal Room, where regional and touring creative artists appear seven nights a week. Seven nights! Musicians of every level revere the well-appointed space, and appreciative audiences have filled the seats virtually without a pause since it opened in 2011.

In his compositions, Horvitz expresses playful reverence using unusual ingredients -- a 63-note, out-of-tune keyboard designed for a 19th century sailing yacht, for instance, or snippets of a Seattle Symphony recording of his work featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, turned into blips in an electronic collage. Visual artist Barbara Earl Thomas, video artist Yohei Saito and dancer Yukio Suzuki memorably came together under Wayne's aegis with improvising musicians at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. He's received generous, prestigious support for his imaginative, original work, including a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2016, part of which he is investing in development of The Heartsong of Charging Elk, a chamber opera based on the novel by Native American author James Welch.

While Horvitz takes inspiration from his surroundings and co-creators including Frisell, John Zorn, Robin Holcomb, Paul Taylor and Michael Shrieve, he emphasized most of all the impact of Lawrence Douglas "Butch" Morris, creator of Conduction®, in a 2013 eulogy. Wayne wrote, "I can honestly say he is the only single human being who I think of as a mentor. It wasn't about music in any technical sense, but really more in a social sense: How music fit into his life, how he created community..."

We honor Wayne Horvitz as a Jazz Hero for continuing to create community, fitting his life to it through all his efforts with music and musicians in Seattle.
-- Steve Griggs
Wayne Horvitz's Jazz Hero award presentation 
April 24, 7 p.m. 
Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle

Francis Wong (l) & Jon Jang (r)

2017 SF Bay Area Jazz Heroes

Francis Wong

While the late jazz critic Phil Elwood described Francis Wong as one of "the great saxophonists of his generation," Wong has often put his performing career on the back-burner to serve the Bay Area arts community.

As Francis says on his website, "I choose for my work to build community and to seek out how I as an artist can meet the challenges that our community faces. In the Asian American community, the biggest challenge is continuity of culture and the impact of assimilation. Through music, I envision a way to create continuity through the integration of tradition and innovation."

He's particularly proud of his role as a co-founder with pianist Jon Jang of Asian Improv aRts (AIR), the non-profit arts organization celebrating the 30th anniversary of its birth this year. Asian Improv aRts has played an essential role in germinating the Asian-American jazz movement as a record label, presenter and incubator of rising talent, releasing more than 70 albums and producing hundreds of concerts. Wong has also made an impact as a senior fellow at the Wildflowers Institute, a Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow, and as a faculty member at San Francisco State University and University of California at Santa Cruz.

He has been a prolific recording and performing artist. Since the late 1980s he's appeared throughout North America, Asia and Europe with master improvisers including Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moyé, John Tchicai, Fred Anderson and Glenn Horiuchi. Selflessly, Wong has encouraged vibrant intercultural arts coalitions throughout the United States, with particular interest in supporting artists who create music inspired by and growing out of movements for social justice. Pianist-composer Vijay Iyer and vocalist Jen Shyu are among the coterie of increasingly celebrated musicians who have been steadfastly citing Wong as a seminal influence.

Encouraging artists of Asian extraction (and not only!) to find and declare themselves through their creative heritage more than qualifies Francis Wong as a SF Bay Area Jazz Hero.
-- Andrew Gilbert
Photo: Yumi Hatta

Jon Jang

Jon Jang is a pianist, composer, bandleader and social activist. His music reflects both his quest for social justice and his gift for merging jazz with traditional Chinese musical forms and cadences.

A co-founder with fellow Bay Area Jazz Hero Francis Wong of the community-oriented Asian Improv aRts (AIR) organization, now in its 30th year, Jang on his own has created a body of epic works that amounts to nothing less than a vivid history of the Chinese American experience. These compositions include "The Chinese American Symphony," "Tiananmen!," "Reparations Now! Concerto for Jazz Ensemble and Taiko" and "Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2" for the Kronos Quartet. With flutist James Newton, Jang co-composed "When Sorrow Turns to Joy – Songlines: The Spiritual Tributary of Paul Robeson and Mei Lanfang." His newest composition, "Can’t Stop Cryin' for America (Black Lives Matter!)," will premiere at the SFJazz Center on June 18, 2017.

Jang has collaborated with numerous socially conscious artists, proudly including Max Roach (with erhu virtuoso Jiebing Chen on their Beijing Trio of 1999). As a scholar, Jang has taught at Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley; he was also awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professor honor at the University of Michigan. During 2016, Jang presented his lecture "The Sounds of Struggle: Music from the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s to the Asian American Movement of the 1980s" at Columbia University and other colleges on the East Coast. He is a socially alert, aware and responsible, Asian improvising aRtist and SF Bay Area Jazz Hero to his core.
--Andrew Gilbert
Photo: Bob Hsiang
Francis Wong and Jon Jang's Jazz Hero awards presentation 
April 22, 8 p.m. 
Jazz in the Neighborhood concert, Community Music Center, 544 Capp St.,
San Francisco

Richard Henderson

2017 St. Louis Jazz Hero

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word "crusader" as “Someone who undertakes a remedial enterprise with zeal and enthusiasm.' There’s absolutely no doubt about the depth of zeal and enthusiasm which St. Louis's Richard Henderson has brought, throughout his life, to raising the profile of and sustaining young peoples' interests in jazz.

Henderson has been a committed jazz fan since listening to famed local DJ Spider Burke every afternoon in high school during the late 1940s, and he became a constant, recognized presence on the local jazz scene after returning to St. Louis from Armed Forces service in the Korean War. His love of the music evolved into an avocation -- a job voluntarily undertaken, compelled by the self-satisfaction that comes from acting on one's altruism -- in 1997, as he co-founded the non-profit association Crusaders for Jazz.

Henderson, Jim Randle and Josephine Lockhart worked together in that organization to create venues for our area’s established and upcoming musicians. They also were able to provide college scholarships to outstanding young music students such as drummer Kim Thompson and trumpet player Keyon Harrold. Henderson himself taught after-school programs on jazz history to elementary school students.

When Marshall and Lockhart both died in late 1999, Henderson continued on his own to introduce deserving musicians to area clubs and concert venues and teach up-and-comers about jazz, its traditions and history. Over the past four-plus decades, he's shared his extensive collection of recordings and videos as well as his experientially-acquired musical knowledge with rising generations of younger people.

St. Louis native Marcus Baylor, a drummer who has played with the Yellowjackets and led his own groups, posted this message on Facebook on the occasion of Henderson’s 83rd birthday in 2015:
"If it wasn't for this man, I wouldn't be the musician I am today. He took me under his wing and mentored me, a high school kid who didn't know a lot about jazz music. He introduced me to every jazz musician that came through St. Louis. He helped me to dream big and planted the seed of moving to New York to go to college and become a professional musician. He made me my first jazz cassette tape of the greats, and gave me my first gig as a bandleader just after I graduated high school. I had a chance to play with the legendary [pianist from St. Louis] John Hicks because Richard organized it and helped put it together. I owe him so much! Such a beautiful person and one of the greatest people I know!"

Trumpeter Russell Gunn expressed similar thoughts during a recent performance at the Ferring Jazz Bistro. Coming back to the neighborhood where he grew up and first learned jazz at East St. Louis’ Lincoln High School, Gunn was effusive about Henderson's role in helping him get his first professional gigs in town.

"Richard and the Crusaders for Jazz made sure all us young cats had places to play when we were first coming upon the scene," Gunn told his audience from the bandstand. He then called out for Henderson to stand and be recognized.

Similarly, the Jazz Journalists Association is proud to get a chance to help St. Louisans hail Henderson for his dedicated and continuing efforts as a "Crusader For Jazz." All readers, listeners and players are urged to join Jazz Hero Richard Henderson in his efforts to keep jazz accessible, relevant and rewarding on a local basis, for everyone.
-- Terry Perkins
Richard Henderson's Jazz Hero awards presentation 
April 8, 5-6 p.m. 
Nancy's Jazz Lounge at the Ferring Jazz Bistro, 3536 Washington Ave.,
St. Louis MO

Adam Gaffney

2017 Tallahassee Jazz Hero

Adam Gaffney has been a supporter of  our Tallahassee jazz club B Sharps since we opened the doors in 2008. We are so proud that he believes in what we are doing. A musician and fan, youngest of eight children, Adam began collecting albums at age five, began music studies in seventh grade and played trumpet in the high school band. He fell in love with jazz then, and has been passionate about the music ever since.

He's recently begun to lead our Jazz Education Program with a class called "Listening to Jazz: a Beginning," which meets the third Thursday of each month. Adam introduces some basic concepts of what to listen to, what to listen for and how to identify aspects of jazz, a form of music that many new listeners find abstract. His teaching style comes directly from the perspective of the listener, a hearer, as he is blind.

Gaffney's topics include finding the rhythm, understanding song structure, taking in melodies, 'feeling' harmony and picking out specific instrumentation. Many recordings of musical examples are played. A handout of recommended recordings for further listening is provided. After taking this class, audience members are able to recognize simple rhythms and basic melodies, and be even more appreciative of this original American art form.

He is also an advisor for the B Sharps Jazz Society. His ideas are current and strategically important. We rely on him as a trusted advocate and supporter of jazz in Tallahassee, and are proud of Adam Gaffney, our 2017 Jazz Hero.
-- Gerri Seay, B Sharps
Adam Gaffney's Jazz Hero awards presentation 
April 20, 6 p.m. 
B Sharps, 648 W Brevard St. Tallahassee, FL

l-r:Vince, Larry, Charlotte, Tony, Mary, and Lenny Redhouse

Redhouse Family Jazz Band

2017 Tucson Jazz Heroes

The six siblings who form the Redhouse Family Jazz Band began as the Redhouse Dancers in the late 1960s. That ensemble was instituted by their father, Rex Redhouse, who, as a member of the Navajo Nation and son of a medicine man, led his own dance troupe. The family's matriarch Maria, who has  sometimes appeared with them, is a recently retired church organist of 55-plus years who during WWII had entertained GIs in her native Philippines playing boogie-woogie piano in her own mother Concepcion's family-run bar. Rex met Maria in that bar during the war.

The Redhouse children all learned to play musical instruments at an early age. The family moved from Seaside, California to Tucson, Arizona a couple of times and finally settled in Tucson in the early 1970s. Throughout decades of their collaborative and individual musical careers, each of the Redhouses has kept the Native American heritage alive in the jazz, traditional and other music they've performed.

Individually, they are:
· Larry, a keyboardist, trumpeter and composer, with two albums as a trio leader;
· Mary, a vocalist, Native American flutist and bassist, who has made music with saxophonist Oliver
Lake and Native flutist R. Carlos Nakai, among others;
· Charlotte Redhouse-Tividad, a visual artist as well as vocalist, guitarist and percussionist;
· Lenny, a Buddy Rich, David Garabaldi, Tony Williams, Vinnie Colaiuta-inspired drummer;
· Tony, a 'world beat' percussionist and dancer who is also a motivational speaker and healer
dealing especially with addiction issues;
· Vince, a woodwind player who has written a method book on traditional Native American flute.

All together they recorded a well-regarded album Urban Indian (Canyon Records, 1997) and they’ve variously earned credits with the Phoenix Symphony, at the Smithsonian Institution, the Grenoble Jazz Festival and the Kennedy Center jazz club. Mary and Vince have garnered Grammy nominations for their own recordings.

Each individual member of the Redhouse family passes on their vast collective musical heritage — whether in a formal setting on the Navajo reservation or as a spiritual guide using music. Their style has been described (by Lee Allen, in an article for the Indian Country Media Network) as “Indian Eclectic” -- “music influenced by Latin, fusion, rhythm and blues, funk, folk, contemporary jazz, and traditional Native American sounds and spirituality.” That sounds about right. Forging such a contemporary, all-American amalgam out of rich heritage and contemporary experience is a project worthy of and only possible for the Redhouses, the family of Jazz Heroes.
-- Yvonne Ervin
Redhouse Family Jazz Band's Jazz Hero awards presentation 
April 26, 2 p.m.
Steps of the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will present the awards and make a Mayoral Proclamation. 

Judith Korey

2017 Washington D.C. Jazz Hero

Judith Korey, Professor of Music at the University of the District of Columbia, may simply be the longest active, most locally productive and least publicly acclaimed Jazz Hero in the nation's capital.

Having joined the faculty of the UDC's predecessor institution, Federal City College, in 1972, Judith has held numerous titles, currently serving as the Music Program Coordinator in the Division of Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences. But in addition to administrative and teaching assignments -- and most extraordinarily -- she is curator of the University's acclaimed jazz research and resource center, the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. The archives houses special collections and vast holdings of sound recordings, books and other publications among unique materials that highlight jazz artists and document jazz activities, sites and events in the Washington D.C. area. Its small staff works diligently out of compact on-campus facilities to gather often obscure information and make it accessible world-wide.

The Archives is a hub of activity. In 2009, under Korey's direction, the Archives initiated JAZZforum, an outreach initiative of lively presentations regarding jazz issues by authors, musicians, educators and scholars. She also curates the JAZZAlive series, produced by the Jazz Studies program and Grant Jazz Archives -- year-round events culminating with the annual April Calvin Jones Big Band Jazz Festival, overwhelmingly supported by area audiences since 1987. Due to her collaboration, UDC-TV has regularly broadcast JAZZAlive programming on the station.

Her work has been nicely recognized by her immediate academic sphere: In 2008 Korey was awarded the UDC Dr. Cleveland L. Dennard Service Award, for her long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University. In 2015 she received the Accomplishment in Leadership Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, and in 2016 the University presented her with its Pathmaker Leadership Award. She was also honored with the 24th Annual Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts in 2009.

Of course, Judith wants to share the recognition bestowed by the Jazz Hero Award with those she calls her “awesome JAZZAlive team,” including Allyn Johnson, Rachel Elwell, Cheryl Hawkins, Michael Fitzgerald, Dr. Eve Byford-Peterson and Serdar Sirtanadolu.

Still, a team thrives with good leadership, and so the wider world should know about and celebrate what she’s done and still intends to do. Her goal is to realize the Calvin Jones Center for Jazz Studies, which would unite an outstanding jazz education program, the JAZZAlive education and outreach programs and the internationally acclaimed Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives, all at the only public institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. For her decades of effort towards achieving this goal, the Jazz Journalist Association takes great pleasure in helping Washington DC's jazz stakeholders honor Judith Korey as a Jazz Hero.
-- Rusty Hassan
Judith Korey's Jazz Hero award presentation 
April 24, 8 p.m.
during Calvin Jones Big Band Festival at the University of the District of Columbia
Ticketed event