2018 Jazz Heroes

The Jazz Journalists Association is pleased to announce the 2018 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. Please spread the word of Jazz Heroes you know as neighbors and admire, via your own media posts and streams.

 1. Atlanta: Dr. Dwight Andrews
 2. Baltimore: Lea Gilmore
 3. Chicago: Margaret Murphy-Webb
 4. Detroit: Jim Gallert and Lars Bjorn
 5. Denver: Charleszine Nelson
 6. Hartford CT: Maurice Robertson
 7. Miami: Robert D. Bielecki
 8. Minneapolis-St.Paul: Larry Englund
 9. New Orleans: Ellis Marsalis Jr.
10. New York City: Bruce Lee Gallanter
11. Philadelphia: Rhenda Fearrington
12. Tucson: Pete Swan
13. Pittsburgh: Roger Humphries
14. Portland OR: Marcia K. Hocker
15. San Diego: Daniel Atkinson
16. Seattle: Karen Caropepe
17. SF Bay Area: Angela Wellman
18. St. Louis: Jim Widner
19. Tallahassee FL:  Therese  & Christopher Seepersaud
20. Washington D.C.: Larry Appelbaum

Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to all the 2018 Jazz Heroes.
The Heroes will receive their awards at public events in their communities.

Dr. Dwight Andrews

2018 Atlanta Jazz Hero

Dr. Dwight Douglas Andrews is dedicated to the idea that music and particularly jazz is an extension of the African-American spiritual tradition that includes gospel and liturgical music.
He believes deeply that music plays an important part in our everyday spirituality, and has demonstrated how that’s so as a multi-instrumentalist specializing in woodwinds as well as an educator, composer, curator, historian, theorist and pastor.

An affable, calm, approachable man who one member of his ministry likened to an absent-minded professor, Andrews was born in Detroit in 1951 and introduced to jazz by his junior high school music instructor. He pursued music studies at renowned Cass Technical High School, then earned both bachelors and masters degrees in music from University of Michigan. His next stop was Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he became an ordained minister in 1978, received a Master of Divinity degree and for ten years served as campus chaplain and associate pastor of Christ’s Church. All the while he was playing a broad array of saxophones, clarinets, flutes and percussion, recording with the local circle of creative improvisers including Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, James Newton, Mark Helias and Jay Hoggard, and visitors such as Jack DeJohnette and Roscoe Mitchell.

At that time he also met Lloyd Richards of the Yale Repertory Theater and playwright August Wilson, which resulted in his becoming the Rep’s resident musical director and eventually composer for Wilson’s Broadway-bound productions such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Fences and Seven Guitars. Dr. Andrews has continued in that vein, composing scores for movies and television programs such as W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography in Four Voices and Ms. Evers Boys, and the 2004 Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun featuring Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Phylicia Rashad.

Since 1994 Dr. Andrews has been an associate professor of music theory at Atlanta’s Emory University, teaching courses in jazz history and “Sacred Music in the United States.” He’s instituted unique projects, including a Black Music and Race study based on lectures he gave as visiting professor of African-American music at Harvard University, and a celebration of the musical aspects of visual artist Romare Beardon’s work on exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, for which he brought to town Branford Marsalis and his quartet. At the same time, he’s been pastor of First Congregational Church, the oldest African-American Church in Atlanta, with a 150 year tradition and presently some 300 active parishioners. Dr. Andrews has been responsible for his church’s First Fridays jazz series and its Holiday Jazz Vespers. He’s currently working on a book about the spirituality in the music of jazz artists John Coltrane, Mary Lou Williams, Sun Ra, Dave Brubeck and Albert Ayler.

Dr. Andrews is known to be generous with his time and guidance and musical contributions. His personal generosity seems at one with his understanding and use of jazz as an aspect of both spiritual and secular expression. In recognition of what he gives in all these ways, the Jazz Journalists Association hails Dr. Dwight Andrews as an Atlanta Jazz Hero.
-- Ralph A. Miriello
-- Photo: Daniel Morris

Dr. Dwight Andrews's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 27 at Churchill Grounds Pop-Up Jazz Jam at the Apple House
1363 Clairmont Road, Decatur, Georgia 30033
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Lea Gilmore

2018 Baltimore Jazz Hero

One of the world's most respected inspirational vocalists, as well as a writer, social justice advocate and lecturer on human rights, Lea Gilmore has been said to command a "rich and passionate voice . . . a gift from her soul to our ears." The jazz, blues and gospel vocalist has lent her voice, literally and figuratively, to advocacy for the underserved around the globe and in her own backyard. Named by Essence as one of "25 Women Shaping the World," a winner of the Blue Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive" award for her historical work on women's contributions to that music, and recipient of the 2016 Golden Formstone Award from Baltimore's Creative Alliance for her efforts with arts and commitment to social justice, Lea Gilmore is now hailed by the Jazz Journalists Association as the 2018 Baltimore Jazz Hero. She has received other recognitions of her dedication to equality and justice, recently being named one of the first recipients of the James Baldwin Medal for Civil Rights. Among the things she’s done: She served four terms on the Maryland Advisory Board for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has worked diligently for reproductive justice for Native American women (indeed, all women), and is a staunch and vocal supporter for marriage equality and gay and lesbian rights. She has been Deputy Director of the ACLU of Maryland and Director of Diversity and Outreach for the National Abortion Federation. She directed and managed the African-American Philanthropy Initiative while program director for the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). A proud Marylander, Ms. Gilmore is the founder and director of “Umoja Musica,” an international effort promoting non-violence, peace and human rights, embracing the power and reach of African-American traditional music in union with the traditional music of other cultures. A proud Baltimorean and graduate of Morgan State University, after the “uprising” in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray she organized a series of “Community Sings” to bring various parts of the community together to inspire work for change. She is known for her bright smile, quick wit and infectious sense of humor as well as her exquisite voice. Those qualities are much admired, as are her productions of her Big Fat Blues Cabaret, her performances and recording of classic blues and jazz and her work promoting knowledge of the under-appreciated role of women in jazz and blues. However, the JJA celebrates Lea Gilmore as 2018 Baltimore Jazz Hero all the more for her work at the vital intersection of music and activism.

-- Don Palmer
-- Photo: Marie-Jeanne Smets

Lea Gilmore's Award presentation will be on April 14, 
at a ticketed event, before the 8 pm set of 
David Murray's  Class Struggle Band at An Die Musik,
409 N Charles St. Second Floor, Baltimore 21201 

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Margaret Murphy-Webb

2018 Chicago Jazz Hero

In 2015 Margaret Murphy-Webb, Chicago’s “Jazzcop,” singer and 2018 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Hero, decided to start a group to keep jazz alive on the city’s South Side. So she convened a board to support the mission of creating a resurgence of the music in a community that gave rise to Louis and Lil Hardin Armstrong, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Nat “King” Cole, Johnny Griffin, Dinah Washington, Sun Ra, Ramsey Lewis and the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), for instance. The South Side Jazz Coalition was born.

“My philosophy is that our musical presentations should be free, we should promote jazz to all ages and always honor the music’s elders,” says Murphy-Webb. The SSJC’s weekly jam sessions at the 50 Yard Line club moved after a shooting outside that venue, and since last December have been held at the Augustus Tolton Catholic Academy, where Margaret teaches choir, coaching students from pre-school to eighth grade in gospel music (she also offers introductory piano lessons in private students’ homes). A basement event hall holds up to 200, seated at tables; no alcohol is served but food is locally catered. The Coalition’s events, sponsored in part by the Jazz Foundation of America, are now held on the second Tuesday of each month, with a coterie of inspired players entertaining an audience that’s growing with each occurrence.

Murphy-Webb settled on this format having being mentored for years by the late, great saxophonist Von Freeman, whose regular sessions at South Side lounges gave her a start in jazz. Born in Gary, she’d grown up on Chicago’s West Side steeped in gospel, veering into soul/r&b, but didn't felt comfortable singing in those genres. Freeman encouraged her to sing Billie Holiday repertoire, gave her free lessons, included her in his bands and turned her on to renowned voice teacher Dr. Lena McLin.

For a long time, Murphy-Webb’s singing took a back seat to day jobs. With three children, she needed steady employment with benefits, and found those first as an office manager for Loyola University for ten years. But in 1992, recently divorced, she took the test to join the Chicago Police Department, and in ‘94 was called to enter the force.

“My mother and father disliked the idea, but the benefits were too good to pass up,” Murphy-Webb recalls. “And I got to love the job.” She walked a beat in the North Side Uptown neighborhood for 15 years, as a prostitute decoy for two years and briefly a narcotics officer -- a role she left feeling victimized addicts were locked up while dealers went free. After defeating a bout of breast cancer she transferred to inside work as a special investigator doing crisis intervention with the mentally ill and homeless, and child victims of sex crimes. Following an incident requiring her to have a knee replacement, she retired early (she remembers the date to the minute).

She’d been singing all along. Her colleagues nicknamed her “Jazzcop,” which is also how she was known to people on her beat.

This Jazzcop now has three albums to her credit, one produced by first-call theater and pop/r&b bassist Chuck Webb, whom she married in 2005 and who performs with her when he’s not on the road. While the South Side Jazz Coalition is her passion, she has sung all over Chicago (she’ll do a set at the 2018 Chicago Jazz Festival next August). After living on the North Side for 27 years, she's lived on the South Side for the past 15.

“The sad thing about this city is it remains so segregated,” says Margaret Murphy-Webb, Chicago Jazz Hero. “The South Side music keeps the soul element in our music, which comes from gospel but isn’t exclusively the property of black musicians. There are white players too who were raised by Von Freeman and have that feel. I believe it’s important that we all keep mingling.”

-- Howard Mandel
-- Photo: Darlene Fullerton

Margaret Murphy-Webb's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 28 at 2 pm at the Jazz Institute of Chicago's International Jazz Day event
at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago IL 60602

Jim Gallert and Lars Bjorn

2018 Detroit Jazz Heroes

It seems hard to believe, but before Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert published their definitive history of jazz in Detroit, Before Motown (2001), much of the saga of Motor City jazz was unknown. Their book, based on extensive archival research and years of recorded interviews with musicians, has become a classic, read all over the globe. The book alone should merit the authors numerous awards besides their designation as paired Jazz Journalists Association 2018 Detroit Jazz Heroes, but there is much more to their achievements that also warrants celebration.

Over the last two decades, the duo have lectured on Detroit jazz in schools, community centers and at music festivals, tirelessly promoting their subject to young and old alike, expressing their love for the music and instilling pride for such cultural achievements among new generations of Detroiters. Their work focuses on musicians but also localizes their achievements within the framework of political, social and economic history, based on an intimate knowledge of the city and its past. For all of this, countless jazz musicians have expressed their support and gratitude for the endeavors of Bjorn and Gallert, which has all been done outside their regular everyday employment.

One venue for their collaboration has been the Jazz Talk Tent at the annual Detroit International Jazz Festival, held Labor Day weekend. Bjorn and Gallert have organized this venue since 2004, providing lectures about Detroit masters performing at the festival as well as conducting public interviews and panels with musicians, critics, historians and journalists. The loyal attendance at the Talk Tent attests to the success of the impassioned enthusiasm that they bring to the undertaking.

In addition to his writing, lecturing and festival work, Lars Bjorn – whose love affair with jazz began when he experienced American expatriate Benny Bailey in his hometown of Gävle, Sweden -- has voluntarily promoted jazz and jazz education in the Detroit area as an early member and for the last 14 years president of the Southeast Michigan Jazz Association (SEMJA). He edits its monthly SEMJA Update, in print and online, adding to the documented history of the region with his performance and record reviews, obituaries and the most comprehensive calendar of jazz events in Southeastern Michigan.

Arriving at the University of Michigan Dearborn after completion of his doctoral degree in sociology at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Bjorn’s early Detroit jazz activism included membership in the Detroit Jazz Center led by John Sinclair, Herb Boyd and Kenn Cox. He helped write grants for the center and became a fan of Jim Gallert’s excellent jazz radio program on WDET-FM.

Gallert had been a Detroit rock’n’roll kid, running the light show for his buddies’ band in high school, hanging out at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom where he caught the likes of Creedence, Cream, Muddy Waters … and Sun Ra. That iconoclast bandleader’s music, as Gallert recalls, “transfixed and transformed me.” In six months, Gallert was a “solid jazzer, seeking jazz in Detroit clubs and carrying Sun Ra records under my arm.” However, he also was immersed in more traditional jazz, first as sub, and in 1973 as full-time host of “Jazz Yesterday,” dedicated to early jazz through swing. For 20 years Gallert was most identified with that airwaves presence, playing recordings, offering commentary and bringing musicians of the early jazz era into the studio to talk and share unreleased music. In his final three years at WDET he hosted the one-hour “Detroit Jazz Alive"; later, "Swing City," Saturday mornings on WEMU-FM. He's also been vice-president of the Jazz Alliance of Michigan.

One night in 1982 or ’83, Gallert recalls, Lars Bjorn called him at the station with an idea. “He’d tried to find books on Detroit jazz, but there were no such things. Lars said we should write one.” And so they did.

Even prior to Before Motown, which covers 1920 to 1960, being published (by University of Michigan Regional, as part of the series Music of the Great Lakes), Bjorn and Gallert were extending their research to prepare a second volume that would continue to the present day. Their unique oral history archive continues to grow ever more valuable because of the vast knowledge and careful preparation Bjorn and Gallert bring to each interview. Many of the people they've spoken with are no longer with us, but their memories are well preserved for posterity.

For decades, Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert have chronicled, supported and dignified the role that jazz has played in the saga of the Motor City in a socially and historically informed manner. Jointly, the two richly deserve the JJA's and indeed everyone's celebration of them as 2018 Detroit Jazz Heroes.

-- Piotr Michalowski, with W. Kim Heron and Linda Yohn
-- Photo: Clyde Stringer
Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert's Jazz Hero awards presentation: 
April 12, 8 pm at the 17th anniversary of RGB Thursday Jam Sessions
at Bert's Marketplace, 2727 Russell St., Detroit MI 48207

Charleszine "Terry" Nelson

2018 Denver Jazz Hero 

Over the course of 30 years Charleszine “Terry” Nelson has logged experience as a bookmobile librarian, reference and humanities librarian, manager of the library’s film center, manager of Volunteer Services for the Denver Public Library and, as she is now, Special Collection and Resource Manager for the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. From working with her for four years while serving as interim executive director for Gift of Jazz, I know Terry as a woman who keeps on keeping on. As one of her previous community awards stated, “She is unsinkable, like Molly Brown!”

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Terry attended Manual High School, earned a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s degree in information technology and library science from Emporia State College. She has also co-authored numerous manuals, books and films related to the history of Five Points and African American community members.

Historic Five Points, known as the “Harlem of the West”, was a predominantly African-American community by the 1920s. It was a thriving business community and home to several jazz venues, such (now renovated) places as the Baxter Hotel’s Rossonian Lounge, Benny Hopper’s Casino Cabaret, the “715,” Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Lil’s, Roxy Theater and the Piano Lounge. “The Points” as it was called, played host to many of jazz musicians legends throughout the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s including Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. These jazz legends could perform in downtown Denver but could not stay in the hotels there, so they came “way out west” to Five Points to stay and also “play” in the local clubs and cafes.

The Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library -- promoted as “gateway to the historic Five Points and a jewel of the community” -- opened in 2003. In 2004 Terry Nelson, as a BCAARL staff member, collaborated with the city of Denver Arts and Venues to present the first Five Points Jazz Festival in celebration of jazz in Denver.

It happened on the third Saturday of April, in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month. The main jazz stage was outside in the BCAARL parking lot (lectures, photo exhibits, and workshops were hosted in the library conference rooms, classrooms and museum). Plans changed when a major snowstorm blew into Denver just as the fest’s first performers took the stage. Terry was the one who organized the move of all vendors indoors and audiences to the third floor to hear the music.

Terry and the planning committee were not deterred by the snowy weather, but rescheduled the Fest for the much better weather of the third Saturday in May, and so it remains. FPJF now serves as the end-of-spring and the beginning of summer festivals in the metro area. The Five Points Jazz Festival has grown during the past 14 years from the BCAARL parking lot to fill five square blocks, with dozens of bands playing on eight outdoor stages and three renovated jazz venues: the “715,” the Rossonian Lobby art show, and Cervantes (formerly the Casino Cabaret). Attendance in now estimated at more than 41,000.

Through it all, Terry has ensured that the festival continues. She is modest about her accomplishments, and gracious about receiving this honor, having written, “When one is doing the work that is necessary to keep jazz alive and viable, one does not expect anything but to receive the personal pleasures of hearing the music and telling the stories. I am pleased to be in the company of like-minded people and I will share this award with our team of supporters.” We all thank Charleszine “Terry” Nelson, our 2018 Denver Jazz Hero, for maintaining and digging into the BCAARL archives, finding photos, tapes, posters and films of jazz for the annual exhibitions, ensuring accessibility by all members of the community to a very vibrant history -- and present! -- of jazz in Five Points.
-- Shyrel Smith
-- Photo: Alpha Kappa Alpha

Charleszine “Terry” Nelson's Jazz Hero awards presentation: 
May 19, Time TBA at the 2018 Five Points Jazz Festival
2762 Welton St., Denver CO 80205

Maurice D. Robertson

2018 Hartford Jazz Hero

Maurice D. Robertson, 2018 Hartford Jazz Hero, has lived his life in service to the community. He has done this through his professional career, which includes several years at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity and his current position as Housing Coordinator for the Blue Hill Civic Association, as well as through the pursuit of his complimentary passions, jazz and photography.
A native of Jamaica who moved to Hartford as a child, Robertson inherited his love of music and visual images from his father, an avid record collector and amateur photographer. Like many jazz enthusiasts, he tried his hand at mastering an instrument, studying flute through his years at Weaver High School and the University of Connecticut and into adulthood. But he set the flute aside when he realized that he had already become an essential non-performing presence in Hartford’s jazz scene.

Since 1976, Robertson has been a deejay on the University of Hartford’s WWUH-FM (91.3).  As the host of “Accent on Jazz,” currently airing Wednesdays at 9 pm, he’s presented the full spectrum of the music, enlightening listeners through his interviews, programming choices and coverage of local performances. Generations have had their horizons expanded in every conceivable direction by his knowledgeable and passionate programming.

At the same time, Robertson developed into a gifted photographer dedicated to what he describes as “catching expression in an intimate manner.” Without formal training, he nurtured his talent through trial and error. He acknowledges two periods of major growth: in 1983, when he acquired his first serious camera, and 2010, when a City of Hartford Art and Heritage grant allowed him to move into the digital era with new shooting, editing and printing equipment. Music in general and jazz in particular are at the core of his photographic work, which was exhibited at the Hartford Public Library in 2016 and has turned his home into a gallery and a popular stop on the city’s Open Studio Tours.

Maurice Robertson is also a longtime supporter, board member and since 2008 program coordinator of the Hartford Jazz Society, which has presented and championed local jazz continuously since its founding in 1960.  He is a frequent attendee at the area’s clubs and concert halls, and is received by audiences as warmly when he hosts summertime concerts in Bushnell Park as the performing artists. The gratitude that the Hartford community has for his service is now shared  by the Jazz Journalists Association, naming Maurice D. Robertson a Hartford Jazz Hero.

-- Bob Blumenthal
 -- Photo: Lauren Zarambo
Maurice D. Robertson's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 23, 8 pm at the College Showcase Jam Session
Black Eyed Sally's, 350 Asylum St., Hartford CT 06103

Robert D. Bielecki

2018 Miami Jazz Hero

Robert Bielecki recalls first hearing the music of Cecil Taylor, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Steve Lacy, Morton Feldman and John Cage at age 15. From that point on, his interest in music and culture crystallized. The Miami-based travel technology entrepreneur and investor has since become a patron of the arts concentrating on creative improvised music and contemporary composition and literature; he’s also a visual arts care-taker emphasizing video, new media and its conservation.

He incorporated the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation in 2014 to fund artists and their projects. He decided to avoid a formal application process, preferring to engage in dialogue, so that grants, awards and donations are individually tailored to each artist or organization selected for support.

Since its inception, the Foundation has supported the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) upon its 50th anniversary, the Jazz Foundation of America, the Jazz Gallery (helping the midtown Manhattan loft soundproof and renew its lease), Harlem Stage’s Cecil Taylor celebration, Roulette, Shapeshifter Lab, Downtown Music Gallery, The Necks 30th Anniversary Concert Series at Issue Project Room (Bielecki is on that venue’s Artists Advisory Committee), and provided unrestricted individual artists grants to guitarist Mary Halvorson, multi-instrumentalist Ken Vandermark, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and trombonist Steve Swell, among others, The Foundation’s reach has extended to Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation with a multi-year grant, Creative Music Studio’s CMS 2017 Workshops and Concerts in the Woodstock area, Edgefest in Ann Arbor,  the inaugural “October Revolution of Jazz” festival presented in Philadelphia by Ars Nova (including an Art Ensemble of Chicago reunion and tribute to Joseph Jarman, additionally presented at the Columbia University School of the Arts) and the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario, Canada.

Before establishing the Foundation, he had sponsored the Charles Gayle Lifetime Achievement Award (presented at the 19th Vision Festival) and served as executive producer of recordings by Ideal Bread, bassist Harrison Bankhead’s quartet (Engine Studios), and Jemeel Moondoc and the Evan Parker/Sylvie Courvoisier duo (Relative Pitch). In addition, Bielecki commissioned numerous composers, such as Frederic Rzewski (perhaps best known in improv circles for his membership in the ensemble Musica Elettronica Viva).

Bielecki is on the Museum of Modern Art’s Media and Performance Art Committee, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Digital Art Acquisition Committee, the Artists Advisory Committee at Issue Project Room, and a member of the Rhizome Council. His Foundation’s maxim is “Earn it and return it”. Creative music and the world of new art in general need Jazz Heroes of the likes of Robert D. Bielecki, now more than ever.

-- Laurence Donohue-Greene

Larry Englund

2018 Minneapolis-St.Paul Jazz Hero

Larry Englund has graced Minnesota’s Twin Cities with his broadcasting, writing and breadth of musical taste since 1980, when he began hosting “Shake Up Southside” on Monday mornings at KFAI-FM.  He’d grown up in the Bronx, and learned to deejay playing records of harmonizing vocal groups (doo-wop) and rock ‘n’ roll, the first music that he actively sought out, at Friday night dances at a local church during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. He still spins vinyl -- mostly classic soul and funk - for Sunday brunch at the Nightingale in Minneapolis, and occasionally elsewhere. He’s never stopped listening to rock ‘n’ roll, but broadened his musical palette years ago to include blues, New Orleans r&b, American roots music, reggae, other world beat sounds, and, of course, jazz.

Larry was first exposed to jazz in his late teens when the father of a friend played him Ahmad Jamal’s “Poinciana.” Following up, he bought himself Things Are Getting Better by Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson and Jackson’s Big Bags; Focus by Stan Getz with Eddie Sauter’s arrangements for string orchestra, and Saturday Night/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk by Cal Tjader.

Jump from there to the ‘80s, when he was a freelance music writer for the weekly City Pages for five years, interviewing artists ranging from James Brown, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Claudia Schmidt and Nanci Griffith. He also reviewed albums and performances by artists such as Sonny Rollins, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, the Neville Brothers and Dr. John, and wrote stories about locally resident musicians for The Villager, a neighborhood newspaper covering the Highland, Mac Groveland, West 7th, and downtown neighborhoods of St. Paul and the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis.

His tenure at KFAI, and his program “Streetlight Serenade” (first heard Wednesdays from midnight to 2 am and later on Saturdays from 9 to 11 pm) was interrupted in 1989, when he returned to school (he’d graduated from Warburg College in Waverly, Iowa, but went to University of St. Thomas for his Masters in Business Administration degree). Still, Larry had not quit playing music for our community. Back on the air in the late ‘90s, in 2002 he established “Rhythm and Grooves,” with live interviews of George Duke, Maceo Parker, David Sanborn and Esperanza Spalding, among other touring artists, as well as the Twin Cities own talents. Englund’s programming has always stretched across style and history, exposing listeners to Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, to Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Charles Lloyd and members of the Marsalis family.

After more than 15 years of hosting the show, Larry retired from his KFAI show on December 30, 2017, and we miss him. He has not turned away from the music, however. Since 2007, Larry Englund has served on board of the Dakota Foundation for Jazz Education, including six years as board chair. He has so much music in his being, which he loves to share -- he just does that. Truly the mark of a Jazz Hero.

– Janis Lane-Ewart
-- Photo: Janis Lane-Ewart

Larry Englunds's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 8 at 6:30 pm at Crooner's Supper Club, 6161 Hwy 65 NE, Minneapolis MN 55432

Ellis Marsalis Jr.

2018 New Orleans Jazz Hero

It would be difficult to overstate the impact pianist, educator and 2011 NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis Jr. has had on modern jazz in New Orleans, particularly since 1974 when he took over the jazz program at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) magnet school, launching his pioneering and decades-spanning career in music education.

At the time, formal jazz education was rare in high schools, but Marsalis had long since proven he was not averse to taking risks for the sake of the music he loved. By that point, he had already recorded one of the first modern New Orleans jazz albums with the American Jazz Quintet in 1956 and helped shine a national light on his hometown’s modern jazz scene by cutting In The Bag with the Adderley brothers in 1962. The following year, he led his band in recording the seminal Monkey Puzzle album for Harold Battiste’s A.F.O. (All For One) Records, the first African-American-owned label.

Mr. Marsalis went on to complete a master’s degree in music education at Loyola University, after which he dedicated much of his focus and energy on students including Harry Connick, Jr., Terence Blanchard and his own sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. At the University of New Orleans in 1989, he helped engineer another stellar jazz program. In both settings, he transferred the approach that defined his early work as a professional musician to his tasks as an educator.

Teaching, he helped students become expert listeners and, as author Al Kennedy notes in Chord Changes on the Chalkboard: How Public School Teachers Shaped Jazz and the Music of New Orleans, guided young musicians to develop “their own vocabulary” for the music as a first step towards learning to improvise. At NOCCA, he urged graduates to tell him how the school could be improved, and adopted their suggestions to increase classroom time on ear-training and sight-singing. He invited graduates to come talk to students about their experiences as professional musicians, as well.

At UNO, where he is a professor emeritus, Mr. Marsalis instituted the Jazz at the Sandbar program, which matches student performers with nationally renowned players and has long been a staple of the city’s modern jazz scene. He’s maintained a passionate voice in the New Orleans community, advocating for the importance of jazz education in the holistic development of our city’s young people. And in the course of that all, he’s released two dozen records under his own name, performed all over the world, and advised his sons leading up to and past their professional debuts with the likes of Art Blakey, beyond their ascensions to running the Columbia Records’ jazz department and establishing Jazz at Lincoln Center.

In a recent conversation, drummer-percussionist Jason Marsalis pointed out that his father is frequently asked why he didn’t leave New Orleans for New York’s bebop scene in the 1950s. “He would have liked it ... and he’s talked about maybe it wasn’t for him,” Jason said. “When I took that further I was like, ‘Man! If my father would have gone to New York … music history would have changed.'”

Yet Ellis Marsalis Jr., by staying in New Orleans, not only changed music history, he’s made it.  His lifelong, selfless yet creative commitment to our city and to the music that continues to come from it makes him a true Jazz Hero.

-- Jennifer Odell
-- Photo: Greg Miles


Bruce Lee Gallanter

2018 New York City Jazz Hero

“For as long as I can remember, music has been the most important part of my life,” says Bruce Lee Gallanter, 2018 New York City Jazz Hero. His Downtown Music Gallery has served not just as a vital fixture of New York City’s music scene for more than 25 years, but also as point of entry into the concept of creative music for free-thinking listeners around the world.

“I have been going to concerts several nights a week since going to the Fillmore East in 1969,” he says. “I still see as many shows as possible.” That passion has fueled Gallanter’s work as music retailer, producer, promoter and writer. Now, with childlike wonder and acquired wisdom, he is simultaneously a throwback to a time when record stores regularly changed lives and a guide to the cutting edge of jazz and other musical styles.

As a boy growing up in Linden, N.J., Gallanter bought singles on a weekly basis, and then listened to underground FM radio. After a professor for his college “History of Jazz” course, the noted composer-arranger Manny Albam, played him Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Herbie Hancock’s Sextant, he was hooked. “I was soon working my way backwards through jazz history in order to better understand how this music evolved since the 1920s,” he says. He began with an Eric Dolphy lp, and never looked back.

Gallanter wanted to be a music journalist. In fact, he filed reviews for his college literary magazine and, later, for the Jersey Beat 'zine, “always writing from the heart and head,” as he says. His most forceful writing for the past 27 years has arrived via the Downtown Music Gallery newsletter, now an e-mail letter with more than 6,000 subscribers internationally. His reviews over the decades have documented a changing scene.

“Between 1976 and 1980, New York was simmering with loft- and avant-jazz,” Gallanter recalls. In that environment, he began working in record stores. In 1988 he was hired by Manny Maris to work at a store called Lunch for Your Ears. “There were only two categories of music there—‘Instrumental’ and ‘vocal’ music,” he remembers. In 1991, he opened Downtown Music Gallery in Manhattan’s East Village, eventually buying out his co-owners by paying $20 a day for seven years. He programmed free concerts in that small store every week, first on Friday nights and later on Sunday nights, a tradition that still continues. “It is has become a sort of ritual to begin the new week with creative and challenging music,” he says, “giving hundreds of musicians an opportunity to experiment.”

Amidst gentrification and the fading away of brick-and-mortar record stores, Gallanter’s place survives. It is now in Chinatown, in a basement beneath a Buddhist Temple. And it might well be considered a shrine, honoring not just music but of a certain kind of devotion to it. “When we opened in 1991, there were 100 record stores in Manhattan, and now there are a dozen at the most,” he says ruefully. He now does most of his business online, but he still presents live music weekly, still stocks new and rare recordings and continues enlisting new jazz fans one customer at a time. “Don’t believe the hype; nothing’s dead,” Jazz Hero Bruce Lee Gallanter told a New York Times reporter recently. “Music is kind of our medicine. It’s like religion and it’s like medicine. It helps people.”
-- Larry Blumenfeld


Rhenda Fearrington

2018 Philadelphia Jazz Hero

Rhenda Fearrington has been called “Philadelphia’s Jazz Cheerleader” by members of our local jazz community because her social media writing is ubiquitous. She shows up at almost every Philly jazz community event, then writes about them in posts and reviews on a weekly blog at “Sistas in the Front” that helps tourists and locals alike enjoy the local scene from the perspective of an insider. Employing the nom de plume "Sista In The Front," Fearrington energizes musicians and singers, young and old, with her optimism and enthusiasm.

Originally from New York, she cut her professional teeth as a singer/songwriter touring the United States and the world backing up artists such as Mtume and Roberta Flack. She moved to Philadelphia in 1985 with her growing family, and turned her love of writing, singing and children into a one-woman motivational program of original music and storytelling, The Feel Sooo Good Tour, which she performed for grade school assemblies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Fearrington also created and facilitated writing workshops for the Upper Darby School District, and workshops for teachers and caregivers of young children at the University of Delaware as part of the state-sponsored Read-Aloud DE initiative.

She pens a weekly print column, "the abc of it" for the Suburban and Wayne Times, informing parents, children and teachers of inexpensive events throughout the region. She also writes children's book reviews, and is currently writing a series of children's books based on her youthful experiences with an extraordinary grandmother, Louise Madlock Sanford. She performs regularly as a singer throughout Philadelphia and is an advocate and board member of Jazz Bridge - a 501 (c) 3 non-profit that assists jazz and blues artists in times of crisis.

There is no crisis at this time affecting Rhenda Fearrington, we’re glad to say. Jazz Appreciation Month is simply an opportunity for us to cheer our Philly jazz cheerleader as a JJA Jazz Hero.

-- Suzanne Cloud
-- Photo: Tashia Rayon

Rhenda Fearrington's Jazz Hero award presentation: 
April 12, 4:30 pm at The Rite of Swing Jazz Café
Temple Performing Arts Center, Temple University
1837 N. Broad St., Philadelphia PA 19122 

Pete Swan

2018 Tucson  Jazz Hero

Indefatigable, persistent and talented describes Tucson’s 2018 Jazz Hero, Pete Swan.

He’s a drummer who, literally, co-wrote the book -- Essentials of Be-Bop Drumming -- with his mentor, Artt Frank of Chet Baker fame (Pete also studied with Don Worth, Mel Brown and Jeff Hamilton). For 30 years, he has been educating young people at Pima Community College, Bud Shank and Centrum jazz workshops, and the Tucson Jazz Institute, where he has mentored the percussionists in the award-winning TJI Ellington Band. But what really sets him apart and makes him a hero is his role as a concert producer, where he exemplifies the old joke: How do you make a million dollars in the jazz business? Start with two million!

Swan has produced concerts in halls and bars featuring The Anderson Brothers, Ali Ryerson, Marcus Printup, Roxy Coss, Mike Eckroth, Emmett Cohen, Greg Abate and many others. He matches local players with musicians from afar, markets the shows, sells the tickets, sets up the sound and lights, hauls the basses and electric pianos, emcees the concert — and sometimes goes home to his wife and biggest fan, actress Carrie Hill, with less money in his wallet than he had before the show. But always making sure that everyone else got paid. That’s a hero.

When his trio won the Best of Tucson in 2017, The Tucson Weekly’s un-named critic wrote: “The Pete Swan Trio elevates any venue to a level of resplendence that's absolutely foreign to Tucson.” Indeed, Swan convinces restaurants which have never had live music to give it a whirl -- and often it works. He ran a Sunday night jam session at the Old Pueblo Grill for more than 13 years, a record for Tucson. He passed the hat at more than 600 sessions so the core band could make a decent wage and occasionally he brought in a guest artist. When that restaurant closed, he moved the jam to another restaurant, Pastiche, and started bringing in more touring artists. That jam, too, lasted until the restaurant changed hands.

Swan is the leader (and drummer, of course) of Big Band Express, featuring some of the top professional jazz players in the Southwest and keeping big band swing alive in the desert. He has performed with a long list of notable artists including Bud Shank, Bob Florence, Terrell Stafford, The Clayton–Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Bill Mays, Bob Mover, Kristin Korb, Judy Roberts and Greg Fishman. He has fought the impulse to get a “day job” for years, making a living by working five to seven nights a week, teaching lessons and working with the Tucson Jazz Institute students by day.  Indefatigable, persistent and talented -- that’s Tucson’s 2018 Jazz Hero, Pete Swan.

 -- Yvonne Ervin
-- Photo: Erin Clendenin
Pete Swan's Jazz Hero award presentation
April 20, 7:15 pm - by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Main Gate Square, 814 E University Place
Tucson, AZ 85719 

Roger Humphries

2018 Pittsburgh Jazz Hero

Roger Humphries, the 2018 Pittsburgh Jazz Hero, is an important jazz drummer in a long line of great local drummers starting with Kenny Clarke and including Art Blakey. His iconic contribution in 1964 to pianist Horace Silver’s classic recording of “Song for My Father” alone engraved Humphries’ name in jazz history forever, through his fresh take to the hard bop drum approach of the day.

Humphries was considered a prodigy when he was drawn to the drums at age three. He still remembers when he was four years old and his uncle began to expose him and his brothers to early works in the jazz idiom. “After You’ve Gone,” written by Turner Layton and Henry Creamer, popular in the 1920s, was the first tune Roger remembers playing. He turned professional at age 14.

He went out on the road at age 17, working with artists such as Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Scott, and, after his stint with Silver, Ray Charles. But Roger decided that the road was not for him, and that family was more important. So returning to Pittsburgh, he has dedicated the past 50 years of his life to carrying the torch for jazz in his hometown, ensuring he could pass it on. In fact, a documentary film created by NOMMO Productions in 2014 about Roger Humphries’ life and the generations of youth he has mentored is entitled just that: Pass It On.

As a teacher at University of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Humphries has trained literally hundreds of musicians who are out playing around the world; he continues to do so today. Two of his lucky protégés are Joey Sailor, current drummer with Stay Human, Jon Batiste’s house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Brett Williams, keyboardist with Marcus Miller. They as well as countless players in touring productions of Broadway shows and with professional ensembles consider Humphries an inspiration, encouraging them to continue their musical pursuits.

Every Thursday night for 30 years Humphries has conducted his Jam Session at various venues, most recently the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy. His unique ability to encourage young musicians and at the same time push them to excellence is fascinating to witness. In the spirit of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, his RH Factor band has been a proving ground for only the top players in the region. Among those who’ve gone through the “RH Factor school” to become leaders and educators in their own right are such talents as Don Aliquo, Jr., currently director of the Jazz Studies Program at Middle Tennessee State University.

Although Humphries does perform all over the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond, he limits his time out-of-town to maintain his relationships with students. In Pittsburgh he has performed with countless headliners, from Hank Jones and Dakota Station to Nancy Wilson and Pharaoh Sanders. Over the 31 years of MCG Jazz presentations, almost every group that we’ve brought in to perform asks about Roger Humphries. All try to go see him if he is performing while they are in town.

Many musicians in the Pittsburgh region refer to Roger Humphries as “Dad.” Our 2018 Jazz Hero has truly been a father figure to all of us in the jazz community.

 -- Renee Govanucci
 -- Photo: Kahmeela Adams Friedson

Roger Humphries Award presentation will be 
Wednesday, April 11, prior to curtain time (8 pm)
for his RH Factor's performance
at City of Asylum, Alphabet City

Marcia K. Hocker

2018 Portland OR Jazz Hero

Since she arrived in Portland 20 years ago, Marcia K. Hocker has played significant behind-the-scenes as well as on-stage roles in the city’s jazz spheres. She’d been prepared from the beginning: raised in Harlem, she danced to Tito Puente at the Palladium and was even named New York City’s “Miss Subways 1974.” Over the years, she also sang jazz standards and Broadway hits on stage.

But it wasn’t until she came to Portland that she found opportunities to support an entire music community in a concerted way, from the city’s international festival to local club dates. A gracious and generous person, Ms. Hocker has helped make jazz more visible throughout our city.

For its year-round programming and annual festival the PDXJazz organization depends on the informed and enthusiastic participation of volunteers, as do our local jazz radio stations. Ms. Hocker has been a tireless master of ceremonies at the PDX Jazz Festival, where she has just completed her eighth year on its board of directors. She also has served as PDXJazz Board education chair, secretary, and community outreach chair.

As a volunteer jazz radio host on Portland stations KMHD and KBOO, she has conducted many artist interviews designed to promote performances. For five years, she also served as liaison to station management for 63 KMHD volunteers.

Coordinator of the annual presentation “The Incredible Journey of Jazz,” an hour-long multi-media show w/live jazz combo designed for middle-school students and presented all over town, Ms. Hocker also has a place in that production as a singer. Besides singing jazz herself she’s a life-long fan, and attends many performances by other area artists, who are always happy to see her.

Marcia J. Hocker represents the best of the passion and dedication - as well as hours of service - that such indispensable volunteers bring to their duties. She embodies the best in the city’s jazz support network, and so we hail her as Portland’s 2018 Jazz Hero.

-- Lynn Darroch

Marcia J. Hocker's Award presentation will be on April 18 at 8 pm at the Mission Theater, prior to a performance by the Roberto Fonseca Trio, co-presented by PDX Jazz and Soul'd Out Festival.  

Daniel Atkinson

2018 San Diego Jazz Hero

Jazz presenters, tireless and typically unsung, are often “jazz heroes” in the truest sense. Daniel Atkinson has been such a figure in the Southern California music scene since 1985, when he started as project director for San Diego’s Center for World Music, producing a free summertime festival of sounds and dance.

From 1988 to 2000 he was program director for the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, overseeing a major expansion of the library’s music and arts programs. He founded the Athenaeum’s jazz concert series in 1989 and still serves as its artistic director, presenting 14 to 18 jazz concerts annually, featuring many of the music’s top national and international touring artists. The Athenaeum has been heralded by DownBeat as one of the world’s great jazz venues and by JazzTimes as among the leading jazz series on the West Coast. Over the years, Atkinson has enriched our community by presenting unforgettable evenings with people such as Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland, Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Gerald Clayton, Brad Mehldau, Mark Dresser and Gary Peacock. He founded the annual UC San Diego Jazz Camp in 2003 -- it's celebrating its 15th year this summer -- attracting students from all over to study with Charles McPherson, Gilbert Castellanos (2017 San Diego Jazz Hero), Holly Hofmann, Mark Dresser, Anthony Davis and other locally residing stars.

Daniel is also an executive officer of the Western Jazz Presenters Network. He has been a panelist for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Chamber Music America, the Doris Duke Foundation National Think-Tank, the Western Arts Alliance, the California Arts Council, the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Connect conferences held in New York City.  He’s a Grammy-nominated producer with eight albums to his credit, and has worked on music for radio and television, being associate producer for 15 programs in the PBS television series Club Date.

As a concert presenter, Atkinson’s goals have evolved. As he explains, “For a while, there was no one bringing national jazz artists into town. . . I sensed there was an opportunity for San Diego to experience these artists and maybe that the Athenaeum could facilitate that. As I’ve become more aware of what is happening in places like Brazil, Norway, Venezuela and Germany, so that music has a presence in what we do as well.

“It’s a delicate balance. Some of our patrons are in their 90s and some are as young as 15, with everything in between. It’s hard to please everyone. Some people love the freeform stuff and other people love the Great American Songbook, and those are both totally legitimate reference points. We try to accommodate all of those desires.” That’s a heroic goal for a presenter to aim at, and largely succeeding in his efforts, Daniel Atkinson has earned being honored as San Diego Jazz Hero.

-- Robert Bush
-- Photo: Jennifer Atkinson 

Daniel Atkinson's Jazz Hero award presentation 
April 4  at 7:30 pm, prior to the Etienne Charles concert for Athenaeum Jazz,
Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California

Karen Caropepe 

2018 Seattle Jazz Hero

Karen Caropepe came to Seattle for work in the tech industry but stayed to work for the jazz community. When she was looking for a way to serve in arts or arts education, a neighbor introduced her to John Gilbreath, executive director of Earshot Jazz, who was looking for a new program manager. She got the job.

Since 2005, Caropepe and Gilbreath (named a JJA Jazz Hero in 2011) have been the dynamic duo behind Earshot. While Gilbreath has been the organization’s public face since 1991, curating festivals, making introductions from the stage, hosting radio programs and traveling to jazz communities across the globe, Caropepe is the one always in the office administering grants, keeping the books, raising funds, handling memberships, selling tickets, planning events, supporting productions, coordinating volunteers, editing publications and getting the word out through marketing and publicity. She says, "I'm not the face of the clock. I'm the mechanics behind the face of the clock that makes it run."

Caropepe remembers her early career at small technology teams where "if something needs to be done, you do it." This preparation of wearing many hats and "learning by doing" has been crucial to her effectiveness at Earshot, a lean arts organization. But what has exceeded her expectations of the role she took 13 years ago is not the amount and variety of tasks she’s handled, but rather its value. Caropepe relishes her opportunity to directly help artists and bring attention to their endeavors. She believes she’s "doing work that matters."

Caropepe's dedication to arts education led her to join the founding board of Jazz Night School in 2012. She served as an officer, including two years as president of Seattle's inclusive, all-skill level school, boasting students from ages 10 to 74. She says, "Arts education is more important than people think." Proving that the person behind the public face of a jazz organization is as important as the gears smoothly moving a clock’s hands, Karen Caropepe steps out front as 2018 Seattle Jazz Hero.

-- Stephen Griggs

Karen Caropepe's Jazz Hero awards presentation 
Karen Caropepe received her award on April 2 at the Earshot Golden Ear Awards, a by-donation event benefiting Earshot Jazz, at the Royal Room, 7 pm, 5000 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA, 98118

Angela Wellman

2018 SF Bay Area Jazz Hero

On the frontlines in the struggle against gentrification and cultural erasure in Oakland, a city long renowned as a cradle for African-American musical innovation, San Francisco Bay Area 2018 Jazz Hero, trombonist and educator Angela Wellman has built the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, an institution that centers the African-American contribution to the development of American musical identity and culture.

Founded in 2004, OPC last December settled into a cozy ground floor space in the historic California Hotel, once a showcase for African-American artists like Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, and Sam Cooke. This marked the successful conclusion, thanks to Wellman’s ceaseless efforts, to the crisis of survival the Conservatory suffered for three years, being without a campus after its original building was suddenly sold.

Wellman’s accomplishment reflects her origins. A third-generation musician who grew up in Kansas City, Missouri immersed in jazz, Wellman embraces a family tradition as an educator/activist. Her uncle, the late KC trumpeter and pianist Eddie Baker, founded the Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation and Academy of the Arts, and she’s adopted his motto “Preservation through music education.”

As a trombonist, Wellman has performed with jazz legends such as McCoy Tyner, Joe Williams, Al Grey and Slide Hampton. She received an NEA Jazz Study Fellowship to study with trombonist Steve Turre and earned a master’s degree in music education from Eastman School of Music. She’s currently completing her doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s spent decades developing innovative musical education programs, serving as the Education Director for the Oakland Youth Chorus from 1997-2002, when she created the award-winning community music education program, Music in the Schools.

Patient, focused and welcoming to aspiring musicians of all stripes, she inspires enduring dedication from colleagues and students. The JJA applauds Angela Wellman as San Francisco Bay Area Jazz Hero.
-- Andrew Gilbert
-- Photo: Angela Wellman
Angela Wellman's Jazz Hero award presentation 
April 22 at 3 pm 
Oakland Public Conservatory of Music
3445 San Pablo Ave, Oakland CA 94608


Jim Widner

2018 St Louis Jazz Hero

Jim Widner certainly qualifies as a Jazz Hero of a wider geographical area than St. Louis. He’s played bass with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Woody Herman’s Big Band, the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Buddy DeFranco, and led his own Jim Widner Big Band for more than three decades, recording six albums with that ensemble.

Jim’s credentials as a jazz educator extend far beyond St. Louis, as well. A native Missourian and a graduate of the University of Missouri Columbia, Widner holds an MA degree from the University of Memphis and did postgraduate work at the University of North Texas, where he directed the Three O'Clock Lab Band. After first attending a Kenton jazz camp as a student in 1963, Widner became a camp instructor and eventually its manager -- the post he held until 1973, when Kenton died.

In his will Kenton declared he didn’t want the camps to continue after his death. Widner decided to start his own camps in 1988, using the Kenton approach of a resident big band as a template. Widner’s jazz camps are still going strong after 31 years, with summer sessions held annually at the University of Missouri St. Louis as well as in Omaha, Nebraska.

But it is Widner’s work as a jazz educator at University of Missouri St. Louis over the past 15 years that has earned him the 2018 St. Louis Jazz Hero Award. Widner was named Director of Jazz Studies at UMSL in August, 2003. When he started there, the jazz department only had one active combo. Today UMSL has four student combos, plus the Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Lab Band.

The amazing growth of the number of students enrolled in the program is matched by the increasing quality of the bands and combos. As a teacher, Widner is dedicated to bringing out the best in his students -- challenging them by having them open shows for well-known musicians, involving them in top-notch conferences, yet always keeping things light with his sharp sense of humor. His efforts get results: last January, the UMSL Jazz Ensemble was invited to perform at the International Midwest Clinic in Chicago, the annual Jazz Education Network conference in Dallas and the annual Missouri Music Educators Association event, all appearances gained through blind auditions.

Widner has also worked hard to create other learning and performing opportunities for his students and the entire St. Louis jazz community. He created the annual Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival at UMSL in 2004. The annual event has brought international jazz artists to perform on campus and in local music venues, and to give workshops to participating high school and college big bands and combos.

When the Jazz Education Network (JEN) was created in 2008 to replace the defunct International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), Widner was a founding member of the JEN board. He hosted the first JEN conference on the UMSL campus in 2010, a great success, helping to establish JEN as a viable music education organization.

Widner recently announced that he will retire from UMSL in summer 2019. Now seems the perfect time to honor him with the 2018 St. Louis Jazz Hero Award for outstanding work that has strengthened jazz here.

-- Terry Perkins
-- Photo: Suzy Gorman

Therese & Christopher Seepersaud

2018 Tallahassee Jazz Heroes

B Sharps is tasked to spread the good news about jazz. One way we do so is to have a summer Jazz Camp for Adults.

Adults harbor regrets, due to a “should have, could have, would have” syndrome. It seems hard for us to believe that decades pass, things are left undone, and then...it’s too late. My spouse likes to say we’ll do something “down the road.” I hate to be the one to tell him that ”we actually are down the road.”

I wanted to challenge adults who were waiting until some magical time to tackle their desire to play or sing jazz. I was convinced that there were adults who wanted to own their jazz-ness. I wanted a jazz camp for adults. Who stepped up to help it happen? The “Seeps.”

Singer and pianist Therese and her husband guitarist and sitarist Christopher -- both performers, teachers and Florida State University music school grads -- seemed to me a natural fit. But would they do it? Two weeks, two sessions a day and a performance on the tenth day were their challenges. I asked, and they said, “Yes.”

In 2016,  during the very first summer of their marriage, the Seepersauds rolled up their sleeves, wrote the curriculum, taught same and put campers through the paces necessary to stand and deliver. That first class of summer’s campers -- scared or just nervous, but determined -- arrived at show time on the last camp day, but became confident in front of an audience and delivered for over 60 minutes. What?!?

The Seepersauds, who had a baby girl in January, remain boots on the ground in the fight to spread a love of jazz. Through their private studio and public school teaching this couple represents the heartfelt endeavors of all those teachers who lead folks to love and support jazz. During the course of two weeks of Jazz Camp for adult instrumentalists and vocalists they give folks the tools and confidence they need to do what they’ve always wanted to do: perform “jazz music.”

Christopher and Therese Seepersaud are truly the Jazz Heroes of Tallahassee for 2018. Hundreds of their students co-sign this designation and honor!

-- Gerri Seay, B Sharps

Larry Appelbaum

2018 Washington D.C. Jazz Hero

Larry Appelbaum, 2018 Washington DC Jazz Hero, is a Senior Music Reference Librarian and jazz specialist in the Music Division at the Library of Congress, where he has worked for nearly 40 years. As former supervisor of the Library’s Magnetic Recording Laboratory, he transferred, edited and mastered many classical, jazz and folk recordings for commercial release. Bearing scholarly expertise but a clarity of communication that’s the hallmark of the best broadcasters and journalists, he has also spoken on jazz history, curation and appreciation at conferences and festivals around the world.

Larry's status as a jazz hero for all time was secured in 2004, when he discovered in the Library of Congress’s archives a complete and revelatory November 1957 Carnegie Hall recording of the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane, made by Voice of America but ignored nearly half-a-century. The recording, which more than doubled the documentation of those two musicians’ brief but significant collaboration, was subsequently restored and released the following year on Blue Note Records as Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. Newsweek magazine described Appelbaum's find as “the musical equivalent of the discovery of a new Mount Everest.”

But well prior to that momentous occasion, Appelbaum was known and loved as (in the JJA’s phrase) an “activist, advocate, altruist, aider and abettor of jazz,” an insider on many fronts in Washington and in the international network connected by media. He has been a frequent presence at local performances, with an affinity for heart-felt music whether traditional, mainstream or avant garde. He has written regularly for JazzTimes as well as other magazines and websites, curates a jazz film series at the Library of Congress and has for 35 years been the host of “The Sound of Surprise,” a Sunday afternoon radio program on WPFW. Several of his on-stage interviews with musicians are archived videos on YouTube. He has also contributed to the volumes Jazz: The First Century (William Morrow, 2000), The Encyclopedia of Radio (Museum of Broadcast Communications, 2003) and the recorded collection Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology (Smithsonian Folkways).

Ask any scholar, author or jazz researcher about Larry Appelbaum, and their responses about him are inevitably full of warm respect. His comments and analysis are always lucid, and he’s always fully but never arrogantly well-informed. Our 2018 Jazz Hero is one of the truly essential members of the DC jazz community. We sincerely thank him for all he does, and enthusiastically hail Larry Appelbaum!

--- Michael J. West
-- Photo: Masha Morozova

Larry Appelbaum will be presented with his Award 
on-air during  his WPFW show "Sound of Surprise"
April 29,  Duke Ellington's birthday, 4 to 6 pm.
WPFW listen-live