Pain Relief Beyond Belief





From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.


Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?


Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.


For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.


Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.






Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin



       In Her Own Words



The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc., is dedicated to protecting, preserving and sustaining the rich cultural heritage of jazz as an indigenous musical art form. 

Location: New York City
Members: 61
Latest Activity: Mar 24, 2018


Jazz is an art form which has its origins, spiritual, heritage and cultural roots in Africa, African American communities and the African Diaspora. The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc. (AAJC), is proactively working to maintain the aesthetic integrity, heritage, legacy and historical facts germane to the music emphasizing "The Roots that have produced the Fruits" . We are engaged in creating programs and providing services to further jazz education and jazz audiences. The Caucus invites and encourages proactive members to share their expertise in our networking with national and international communities. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Opening speech at the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival 

"Humanity and the Importance of Jazz"

"God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create - and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations. 

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life's difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. 

Modern Jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument. 

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of "racial identity" as a problem for a multi-racial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls. 

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down. 

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these." 

Discussion Forum

The jazz legacy, as i see it.

Started by Travis Klein. Last reply by Bob Garvin Nov 12, 2017. 7 Replies

     I'm only 67 years old so I don't relate well to jazz before the hard bop era.  One thing I know is that the period between the mid 50's and mid 60's produced the music that is most pleasing to…Continue


Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison Dec 9, 2012. 0 Replies

 Peter "LaRoca" Sims is a legendary drummer. Not very well known among jazz fans, very few musicians can boast of having their jazz first concert recorded in one of Sonny Rollins’ masterpieces (A…Continue

Tags: interview, music, jazz, pittsburgh, network

Dr. Larry Ridley: The Roots that Have Produced the Fruits - JazzEd Magazine Feature Article

Started by Dr. Nelson Harrison. Last reply by Roberta Windle Jun 16, 2011. 1 Reply

June 7, 2011Dr Larry RidleyAn accomplished musical force with decades of experience as a…Continue

Tags: roots, ridley, music, rutgers, manhattan

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on August 23, 2011 at 2:17am
Posted on August 21, 2011 by Roanna Forman
This question has intrigued me for a while, and I thought I’d pose it to several jazz writers for their thoughts on the subject. Their responses ran the gamut from “no” to “it helps” to “it’s essential,” and I’ve arranged their quotes in that order. Let’s see what they have to say.

Bob Blumenthal:

“I’ve always taken the position that, unless music is created exclusively for those who know how to play music, the reactions of those who don’t know how to play, when informed with historical perspective, intelligence and taste, have value. Also, given that instrumental music is at a particular disadvantage (no visual or literary references for listeners to fall back on), it is worthwhile attempting to articulate how music impacts the passionate listener – and the critic should be nothing if not passionate about music.”

Ted Panken:

“Knowing how to play jazz certainly can’t hurt one’s endeavor to write cogently about the idiom. But, as I don’t play an instrument, I compensate in several ways. For one thing, I try to operate more as a journalist than a critic. I want to be able to transcend (though not ignore) my personal taste, to contextualize, to describe intentions. Why do musicians make the aesthetic choices they make? What’s their influence tree? Who comprised their circle of associates in formative years? Where does their recorded history or stylistic approach fit into the larger picture? Hopefully, I can base my opinions on one or more personal conversations with the artist (I’ve written 400 or so liner notes and perhaps an equal number of articles for magazines, newspapers and zines over the years, not to mention various bios; during my 23 years as a programmer on WKCR, I also conducted hundreds of unpublished interviews and listened to huge chunks of the recorded canon) or from secondary sources not generated by me. I’ve read and transcribed much oral history, and read numerous published biographies, histories of urban America in the 19th and 20th centuries, African-American history, cultural history, Caribbean and South American history. I also have a certain amount of life experience and, hopefully, perceive human nature and psychology in ways that make sense. Hopefully, these disparate information flows coalesce into a sensibility that allows me to say something meaningful about the many streams that define 21st century jazz and improvised music.”

Nate Chinen:

“Musical ability, to say nothing of musical experience, should not be a prerequisite for jazz critics — any more than expertise in the kitchen should be a must for food critics. Having said that, it’s undeniable that firsthand knowledge of any art form will produce a more authoritative critic, and quite possibly a more insightful one. And of course, musicians tend to confer more trust and respect on someone with that knowledge.”

Ted Gioia:

“I’m less concerned with how well various critics can play music, and more interested in how well they can hear what is happening in a performance. My uncle couldn’t play an instrument, but he could look at an orchestral score, and hear it in his head. He owned hundreds of books of scores — the complete works of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and others — and would read them for enjoyment and relaxation. He couldn’t play the music, but no one would have dared challenge his comprehension of it.

Different jazz critics are at different levels in their ability to hear and understand what is happening in a jazz performance. Those who don’t have big ears are operating with a disadvantage. But even they can be useful critics, if they have good judgment and don’t falsify their emotional responses to the music. Some non-musicians are better critics than even highly skilled musicians for that reason. But this is more the exception than the rule.

The worst kind of critic, in my opinion, is the one who lacks musical expertise, and tries to compensate by jumping on every new bandwagon, embracing the flavor of the month with a grim determination to impress people with a shallow kind of hipness. Given their zeal to stay fashionable, such critics are virtually forced to falsify their own emotional responses to the music. They are thus very poor guides to their readers. I wish I could say that this is a very rare state of affairs, but I believe that it is actually quite common.”

Larry Appelbaum:

“Strictly speaking, a critic is anyone who expresses a value judgment, though I’m reminded of Whitney Balliett’s definition of a music critic as ‘a bundle of biases held loosely together by a sense of taste.’ These days, social media and the blogosphere democratizes access and allows anyone a platform. And while the marketplace for music and ideas may have changed, some standards hopefully still apply. A good critic still needs to have insight, an informed opinion, analytic skills and the ability to communicate ideas in a clear, coherent manner.

A film critic doesn’t need to be a director, cinematographer or actor to write about film. And while it can be useful for a jazz critic to have experience on the bandstand, it’s not absolutely essential for them to be able to play the blues in all keys, navigate II-V-I progressions, or transpose at will. But any jazz critic worth their salt must at least have a grasp of music history and literature (not just jazz), as well as knowledge of form, rhythm, harmony and the ability to recognize originality vs. patterns or clichés. All this helps to provide context and meaning, in addition to interpreting the codes and quotes that musicians express in the moment.

John Gennari has written a landmark study of how critics have approached jazz over time (“Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics,” University of Chicago Press, 2006). It would be interesting to see this work updated and try to measure the impact of jazz critics today beyond publicity or promotion. If everyone now has their own blog or social media platform, are we getting closer to the time when a jazz critic is, as Norman Granz once said, anyone who gets free records from the label?”

Randy Sandke:

“I would say no, but it helps. I think a good working knowledge of the fundamentals of music is important, but good ears and an open mind are the most essential attributes.
A good critic needs to have a healthy appreciation for technique, but just like one needn’t be an artist to be an art critic, or playwright to judge plays, playing jazz is not an absolute prerequisite for being a good jazz critic. It all depends on the individual. No one critic will get everything right anyhow, just as no musician plays a perfect solo every time. We’re too close to the music of our time to judge it properly. (It took four hundred years for art historians to finally acknowledge Vermeer’s genius.) That’s why I prefer critics who try to describe what the musician is doing as accurately as possible (not an easy feat in itself), and keep their opinions on merit in check as much as possible. I think, in our little world of jazz, we need more critics who are on the musicians’ side, and who promote a fuller understanding of the music, rather than promoting themselves by belittling others. The best critics make me want to check out the music for myself, or listen to it again with fresh ears. And I prefer those critics who concentrate on the music, rather than the back-story.”

Ben Ratliff:

“I am wary of overspecialization and have never considered myself only a jazz critic, so I would say only that it benefits a music critic to know how to play music. Whether you can improvise on changes through ‘Cherokee’ is less important than knowing something about playing with other people, performing for an audience, and making a recording.”

Bill Kirchner:

“Jazz critics needn’t necessarily play jazz, but I see no reason why they can’t play a musical instrument with at least elemental facility. I’ve heard Howard Mandel play the flute, for example. He’s no pro, as he would be the first to admit, but I respect that he’s put some time in to learn an instrument. I’m sure that that experience has a bearing on his writing and listening.

I also see no reason why jazz critics can’t acquire at least a basic knowledge of music theory. It’s not rocket science. If that happened more often, we’d see fewer gaffes on the order of critics saying ‘harmonics’ when they actually mean ‘harmonies,’ or ‘riffs’ when they mean ‘lines.’ Those are things that make jazz musicians like me laugh and cringe.”

Ronan Guilfoyle:

“Yes, I do think a jazz critic should have at least some working knowledge of the nuts and bolts of jazz, of how the music is put together and how it functions on a technical level. I don’t think a critic should necessarily be a great player (though that would be nice!), but they should know something about form and structure and have at least dabbled in the music at some point. If you take the example of a literary critic – most literary critics would not have published novels of their own, but they do know how to spell and are aware of the rules of grammar, and like all of us, they will have at least written essays in their time – even if it was only in school or college. So they will of course have a working knowledge of language.

Most classical critics (at least high level ones) have studied music up to a reasonable level too – however I think jazz music has suffered a lot from poor criticism being delivered by writers who don’t have the first idea about how the music works. As far as jazz criticism is concerned, I think a little learning is NOT a dangerous thing!”

Stanley Crouch:

Stanley Crouch, who was interviewed for this article, feels that the critic who plays jazz benefits by hearing the quality of what individual musicians are playing, and how that relates to what they do [with the band as an ensemble]. Playing enables the critic to discern how many things one hears in the middle of a performance, or, as Crouch says, to pick up on “the velocity of thought” in the interplay on the bandstand. “If critics are interested in understanding the music a bit better by playing, it helps,” he says. “We live in a period where music has been so debased that the idea of singing or playing is an extreme challenge.”

Peter Hum:

“I’m sure there are jazz writers who do good work despite not being players to some degree. My Ottawa Citizen colleague Doug Fischer is one example. But for my part, if I were to somehow subtract my playing experience and knowledge, I would have no idea how I’d be writing about jazz.

I say this even though I’ve been very much a generalist in my journalistic career, reporting on everything from the courts to city hall to education to the high-tech sector, despite never having been a lawyer, politician, teacher or software engineer. I suppose because I’ve been trying to play jazz for many more years than I’ve been writing about jazz, and because jazz means as much as it does to me, jazz journalism seems to require a greater degree of specialized knowledge that most naturally comes from having played jazz.

Good jazz writing is accurate, well-informed, clear, insightful and, I’d contend, passionate. Having my modest but, I’d contend, significant background as a jazz pianist provides me with a vital grounding in most, if not all, of these respects, I feel.

When I read some jazz criticism that I think falls short, it’s sometimes painfully apparent that the writer doesn’t play — never mind the quality of the writing. Sometimes the descriptions and observations regarding the music are so off the mark. Other times the critical assumptions are to me strikingly out of touch with what goes on in the minds of artists, or with a fully fledged understanding of jazz history.

All this said, the point of writing about jazz for me is not to write for musicians, or get into the nuts and bolts of the music as some musicians might. I’m simply trying to convey to fans and jazz newcomers alike, be they musicians or non-musicians, just what makes jazz and the artists who dedicate their lives to it so compelling, interesting and meaningful.”

Todd Jenkins:

“In all things, knowledge is power. To write authoritatively about a subject, the writer must have a significant measure of experience and knowledge. This is true for any discipline, but I believe that intelligent analysis of jazz depends upon a solid understanding of its history, its practice and its spirit. I don’t know that the successful writer needs to be a pro-level musician, woodshedding and jamming for hours per week. But, at the very least, the writer must truly know the music’s core mechanics and the heart of what is being written about. Detachment is the writer’s enemy; serious jazz fans can smell a phony a mile away, onstage or on the page.”
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 15, 2011 at 1:10am
Nat Hentoff 

Bringing jazz musicians back to life 

That jazz has become an international language was illustrated last July when representatives of 30 jazz schools from more than 25 countries gathered in Krakow, Poland, for the 15th annual meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz. A more vivid proof of the compelling impact of jazz was when both sides in a fierce civil war in the Belgian Congo, years ago, suspended hostilities because they heard Louis Armstrong was booked to play in that country. 

But this worldwide recognition of our sharing the life force and joy of jazz does not extend to the increasing number of ill and elderly jazz musicians here at home - facing evictions and in need ofemergency medical care, but without resources. 

Among them are not just players who, despite their appearances on many historic recordings, are not jazz stars. And even as famous a trumpeter as Freddie Hubbard was in a state several years ago when, he recalls, "I had congestive heart failure, my wife had lost her job and we lost our insurance. When it happened, man, I didn't know what I was going to do." 

However, he heard about the New York-based Jazz Foundation of America, formed by musicians and supporters to whom the music is a vital part of their lives. Since then, the foundation has taken care of rent arrears; provided sustenance, including food; and provided free medical care, including surgery, through the Englewood (New Jersey) Hospital and Medical Center's Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund. 

Gillespie, who had more generosity of spirit than almost anyone I've ever known, was dying of cancer at Englewood Hospital when he said to his oncologist, Dr. Frank Forte, "Please try to provide the kind of care I'm getting for musicians who can't afford it." 

Until Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans, the Jazz Foundation had been taking care of an average of 35 elderly jazz and blues musicians a week. Since the hurricane's devastation, there have been around a thousand emergency cases concerning New Orleans players. Moreover, the foundation replaced more than $250,000 worth of new top-shelf instruments. And with the financial help of Agnes Varis, also a vital contributor to Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Richard Parsons, the head of Time Warner, more than half a million dollars has been devoted to employ displaced New Orleans musicians in seven states where they've had to resettle. These gigs through the Agnes Varis/Jazz Foundation in the Schools program include sessions in homes for seniors. 

What keeps the Jazz Foundation of America going - in and out of emergencies - is its annual "A Great Day in Harlem" concerts at the storied Apollo Theater, where Ella Fitzgerald was discovered and Duke EllingtonCount Basie and other legendary creators played. 

The Fifth Annual "Great Day in Harlem" is again at the Apollo (253 W. 125th St., between 7th and 8th Avenues) on May 4

Bill Cosby, himself a master improviser, will preside. The last time he was master of ceremonies there, I suggested -and I wasn't entirely kidding - that he run for president. "What?" he said, "and bankrupt my wife?" I wish he would reconsider. Appropriately, on stage, will be the New Orleans' New Birth/Rebirth Band coming down the aisles and later, Dr. Michael White's Liberty Band. Also: The ceaselessly imaginative trumpeter Clark TerryAbbey Lincoln; master bassist Ron Carter; Ben Riley; and Gary Bartz, among others. And, in a wheelchair, 85-year-old blues singer and composer Johnnie Mae Dunson, who wrote for Muddy Waters andJimmy Reed and was one of the first blues drummers. She's been helped by the Jazz Foundation, and she'll make the Apollo jump. 

Also, on passionate blues harmonica is the indomitable Wendy Oxenhorn, who directs the Jazz Foundation at all hours. (Wendy has fed hungry musicians at her home as they begin to become who they once were because of the foundation.) For tickets and information about the Fifth Annual "Great Day in Harlem," the phone number is (212) 245-3999 (ext. 3999), or you can click on to

In the planning stage for jazz players is a jazz residence with affordable rents, a rehearsal hall and a phone number to contact them for gigs. Jarrett Lilien, the president of E*Trade Financial - who has been an indispensable source of support for the foundation - is spearheading the campaign. 

"Musicians," says Wendy Oxenhorn, "are the healers of the world. They can take the sadness out of your soul when you lose love, or when you are so disappointed in the world that you feel each time that you turn on the news. They can make you remember what is truly important in life and give you joy every time." 
Comment by Felicia on January 14, 2011 at 4:30pm

To preserve Jazz is to preserve an art form of African American Life.

In this incredible journey of Jazz that I have started to walk, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the top Jazz artist in PGH, such as Harold Young, Dr. Nelson, and Sean Jones and too many to name. I've meet others like Clark Terry, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves and countless other.  I'm lovin' this walk in this beautiful legacy.

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 12, 2011 at 10:13pm
Please visit my page and you'll hear me playing trombone obligato behind Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson on "My Jug & I" recorded in 1980 for Norman Granz's Pablo Label with the Count Basie Orchestra. The CD which also included songs by Big Joe Turner is published as "Kansas City Shout."
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on January 12, 2011 at 10:09pm

“EddieVinson: Folks Called Him Mr. Cleanhead” By Kirk Silsbee


          Two years ago Eddie Vinson took partin a sax summit show at the Music Machine in West Los Angeles.  In the artist’slounge before the show, the participants—Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Big JayMcNeely and Vinson—chowed down on a soul food buffet.  Holloway balanced a plastic plate on hisstomach and made an idle comment between mouthfuls.  “You know,” he said, “what would really setthese greens off?  A big piece ofcornbread and some hot sauce.” 

          Vinson, elegantly attired in athree-piece suit, reached into the breast pocket of his sharp suit jacket.  With an impish grin, he silently produced abottle of Tabasco.  The tiny room exploded into laughter.  It was the same kind of sly humor that he putacross in his best-known blues lyrics. They were full of hasty backdoor exits, frustrated spinsters,kidney-stew girlfriends, big brass beds, the manifold wonders of great biglegs, and the erotic wonder of a bald head.

          Vinson passed away last July 2nd.  A September 30th tribute concertat the Biltmore Bowl will feature Willie Dixon, Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, TeddyEdwards, Jimmy Witherspoon, Papa John Creach, Mickey Champion, Plas Johnson,the Bernie Pearl Blues Band, Gerald Wiggins, Phil Upchurch, among others.  The talent spans the spectrum of blues andjazz—the two camps Vinson’s feet were solidly planted in. 

He was no blues provincial.  In 1974, Vinson heard a Weather Report albumat the Berlin apartment of Kansas City trumpeter Carmell Jones and wasable to identify Wayne Shorter’s tenor saxophone.  “Hmmm,” he said to Melody Maker journalist Valerie Wilmer, “he sure listened to a lotof John Coltrane.” 

          Vinson was born in 1917 in Houston, Texas,and played in local territory bands, most notably the Milt LarkinOrchestra.  That outfit carried pianistWild Bill Davis (the future organ pioneer) and a reed section that housedVinson, Arnett Cobb and Illinois Jacquet—three messengers who would take thesaxophone blues into jazz in important and distinct ways.  All three would work in the modern jazzidiom, yet to a man, they remained firmly grounded in the blues.

While traveling through the Southwest with the band,Vinson met a lasting source of influence. In 1939, during an after-hours jam session in Shreveport, Indiana,he first heard the alto saxophone of Charlie Parker.  Although three years Parker’s senior andalready a competent altoist, Vinson woodsheded with Parker for two weeks toinvestigate the younger man’s advances.

          A short 1936 tour with Chicago blues singer LilGreen and her accompanist, guitarist Big Bill Broonzy, interrupted Vinson’sLarkin tenure.  It also gave Vinson oneof his few discernible vocal sources.  Heliked Broonzy’s plaintive blues songs, especially the sardonic “Just a Dream,”which Vinson would record several times over the years.  In the Larkin band, Vinson had sung for themusicians’ amusement after-hours, but the Broonzy experience must havecrystallized something in him.  Hisvocals became a part of the Larkin show. 

          Former Duke Ellington trumpeter CootieWilliams was in the process of assembling his own orchestra in 1942 and he cameto Houston insearch of Cobb.  Williams caught aperformance of the Larkin Orchestra and, as a result, knew that he wantedVinson’s blues singing as part of his own band.

          The Cootie Williams Orchestra was oneof the greatest, yet most underappreciated jazz orchestras of the 1940s.  Relentlessly blues-based, on up-tempo jumptunes it was absolutely ferocious, with roaring brass and reed sections thatviciously riffed against each other.  Fewbands could match its intensity and jazz lore has it that the Williams crewvanquished the orchestra of Cootie’s old boss, Ellington, at the SavoyBallroom, Harlem’s showcase and laboratory forcutting-edge social dancing.  Mostsingers would have wilted under the heat that band could generate.  Vinson not only sang the blues withprojection but he somehow conveyed insouciance as well.  A short film of the Williams Orchestra from1944 features Vinson singing his hit “When My Baby Left Me,” a slow blues.  The hands-in-the-pockets informality and thelazy yodeling of words suggested a man who had stopped off at a tavern on theway home from work.

          Vinson’s hit records with the Williamsorganization—“”Cherry Red Blues,” “Somebody’s Got to Go” and “Juice HeadBaby”—made him a major factor in the urbanization of the blues during the WorldWar II years.  He was an authentic bluesperformer who was also conversant with the developments that bebop had broughtto jazz. 

Cornetist Bobby Bradford heard Vinson several timesin Dallas,beginning in 1946.  He notes that Vinson“always had good rhythm sections and guys who could play jazz.  You could hear Eddie playing the bop phraseson his horn.  What I hear in his playingis somebody who could get over the horn but who embraced some of the harmonicthings and some of the lines that the bopper were doing.  He probably fused those things into hisplaying by about 1944.” 

Vinson was not only a capable instrumentalist but asa songwriter he contributed immutably to the blues canon.  Prematurely bald, Vinson came by his monikerof ‘Mr. Cleanhead’ honestly.  Hairstraightening for the black community was a dangerous chore that involved theapplication of a lye solution to the scalp. The step-by-step procedure is vividly—and painfully--recounted in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  Vinson knew Malcolm (then known as DetroitRed) as a sandwich vendor on a New York railway. Vinson would attribute his hair loss to excessive straightening, or“conking” as it was known, and Malcolm later cited Vinson’s hair loss as reasonfor wearing his own hair natural.

          Vinson turned his clean pate intomusical autobiography and self-advertisement, with his perennial “Clean HeadBlues”:

          Folkscall me Mr. Cleanhead, just because my head is bald (TWICE),

          Butwith the stuff that I use, I don’t need no hair at all!

          If it wasn’t for you women, I’d have my curly locks today (TWICE),

          ButI’ve been hugged, kissed and petted, ‘til all my hair been rubbed away!

          His 1950s recordings were almostalways in the rhythm ‘n blues vein and Vinson’s producers weren’t keen on himcutting jazz instrumentals on his sessions. Yet jazz musicians have long ascribed two Miles Davis standards--“TuneUp” and “Four”--as Vinson originals. 

          Vinson’s bands employed, at one timeor another, trumpeters Clark Terry and Johnny Coles, trombonist Slide Hampton,tenor saxophonists Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis and John Coltrane, and pianists RedGarland, Wynton Kelly and Randy Weston. Bradford recalls a typical Dallasappearance by the Vinson band: “The sets they would play usually lasted fromnine to one in the morning.  The firstcouple of hours they’d play stuff for the dancers and Eddie’s blues hits, like“Just a Dream,” “Kidney Stew,” “I Took the Front Door In,” and “Old MaidBoogie.”  But after about eleven, they’dstart to play standards and jazz.  Healways had good jazz players and he could play it too, as well as the blues.”

          When Coltrane joined Vinson’s band, hehad been playing a Charlie Parker-derived style of alto saxophone.  Vinson needed a tenor, not another alto, soColtrane changed his horn.  It was duringthat period of 1947 to 1948 that Coltrane began to search for his own identityas a saxophonist.  According tobiographer J.C. Thomas in Chasin’ theTrane (Doubleday, 1975), Vinson and Coltrane “developed an entertainingroutine to keep their chops together and grab the audience’s attention.  Eddie would play a long, loping blues line onalto, with John filling in on tenor behind him; then they would exchange horns,each flipping his sax to the other and immediately duplicating what had justbeen played, only this time on the other’s horn.”

          Vinson had touched another buddingmodernist in the late 1940s.  When hisband appeared in Tallahassee, Florida, two youngbrothers--Julian and Nat Adderley--made a point of attending.  In 1976, after his older brother’s passing,Nat was specific about Vinson’s impact on Cannonball.  “When he first came to town,” Nat stated, “Cannonwent over, asked Eddie if he could play and Eddie said sure.  For about seven years Eddie would come totown and he’d get together with Cannon. Eddie was another one of those teacher-kind of guys: he could teach whathe knew and he knew a helluva lot.  Andhe could play the hell out of the alto.” In 1959, Cannonball told writer Ira Gitler that it was Vinson who taughthim how to play right-handed trills on the alto: “He taught me how to do thatand how to do it in different ways, different keys.”

          The commercial success of theCannonball Adderley Quintet made it one of the most bankable bands in jazz inthe early 1960s.  Riverside Records gaveCannonball a free hand in recording worthy artists.  (Among Adderley’s many productions was amemorable pairing of Bud Powell and Don Byas, and debut albums by ChuckMangione and Nancy Wilson.) 

At a chance Kansas City encounter with Vinson in the summer of 1961,Adderley learned that Vinson was at a career low point and hadn’t recordedsince 1957.  Adderley oversaw a finealbum for Riverside,though its shelf life was short. Landmark has just reissued the album, originally titled Back Door Blues, now rechristened Cleanhead & Cannonball.  It’s a gem that balanced Vinson’s great bluesvocals with his estimable jazz playing in the company of the Adderley band(cornetist Nat, pianist Joe Zawinul, bassist Sam Jones and drummer LouisHayes). 

Vinson probably never recorded with a better modernjazz crew.  The Quintet could play theblues at its dirtiest, swing the demanding bop instrumentals like “Vinsonology”and “Canonizing,” and expertly back the vocals. Lest anyone needs reminding, this album shows Joe Zawinul to be arighteous blues pianist.  (Nat anddrummer Louis Hayes heard him capably accompany Dinah Washington, so when Bobby Timmons vacatedthe Adderley piano chair, Zawinul was a logical candidate.)  Cannonball graciously limited himself toplaying juicy blues obbligatti behind Vinson’s vocals on old favorites like“Back Door Blues,” “Kidney Stew,” “Person to Person” and “Hold It!”  He let the date be Vinson’s showcase, yetEddie’s sound and instrumental agility were strikingly similar toAdderley.  Vinson’s tone was a littlemore rugged, while Cannonball’s was a bit sharper and streamlined.

The vocals are all prime Cleanhead.  He was a bit of an oddity in that—like LouisJordan--he was one of the few blues saxophonists who sang.  Vinson’s guttural tones seem to emanate fromthe back of the throat and chest.  Likehis alto sax playing, he was quite comfortable in the lower range.  He often tied off falsetto phrases withlaryngitic pigtails as the voice cracked when Vinson reached too high.  This became something of a trademark for him.  The big surprise is a ballad, “Audrey,” sung bel canto with nothing but earnestness.  It’s a reminder that Vinson’s waters ran verydeep.

Vinson spent the 1960s in Kansas City and Houston, though he returnedto Los Angelesat the end of the decade to take part in a Johnny Otis TV special.  “Midnight at the Barrelhouse” was a watershedevent that began the reconsideration of the early rhythm and blues giants.  Taylor Hackford (in his directorial debut)oversaw the one-hour special where Otis and his orchestra backed Vinson, BigJoe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Esther Phillips, Charles Brown and Roy Milton.  It was a cavalcade of pre-rock and roll bluesthat gave the featured performers new visibility.   

Vinson settled into a late 1970s residence at theRubiyat Room on Western Avenuethat coincided with a new label association with Pablo Records.  Norman Granz recorded him in the company ofstars like Count Basie, Big Joe Turner, Clark Terry, Sarah Vaughan, and MiltJackson.  These recordings consciouslyemphasized the jazz side of Mr. Cleanhead. In effect, Granz was just extending what Adderley and Riverside had begun in 1961.     


L.A. Reader, Sept. 23, 1988

Comment by Kevin Hurst, Sr. on December 31, 2010 at 2:59am
Milt Jackson was born in Detroit, another great jazz and black music city! Charles Lumpkin's wife told me her father jammed with him in Indianapolis where she is from. I thought he was associated with that city's great heritage.- kev
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on December 28, 2010 at 6:21pm

Milt Jackson was born in Detroit, MI.
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on December 28, 2010 at 5:58pm

JAZZed MAGAZINE                                          Issue: January, 2009



By now most of you are aware that the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) ceased to exist as of April of 2008. To many this may represent an end to having a place
where educators, students, performers and jazz fans alike could meet at the
annual IAJE Conference to exchange ideas, learn about the latest in music
technology and above all honor our Jazz Masters. However, for the African
American Jazz Caucus, Inc., it represented more than that. It was a place where
African American educators and students could gather to address issues and
concerns that are unique to Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) and communities at large. It was also a place to showcase the
outstanding talent that is being developed at these institutions and
communities. For these reasons, the African American Jazz Caucus, Inc. is more
than ever committed to moving forward with its mission of preserving and
promulgating jazz. One of the ways that the AAJC aims to communicate its
commitment and latest news within our organization will be through this
bi-monthly forum. Our thanks go out to JAZZed Magazine for granting us this

For those who are not yet familiar with us, the Black Jazz Music Caucus (BJMC) was organized in 1977 as an independent affiliate of the National Association of Jazz Educators (NAJE).
The two founders were the late Anderson White and Dr. Larry Ridley. The mission
and relationship with NAJE were to ensure that the African American jazz community
was represented in conference activities. A few years later, NAJE changed the
name of the organization to the International Association for Jazz Education
(IAJE). In 2000, Dr. Larry Ridley was appointed the BJMC Executive Director by
its President, Badi Murphy. The membership voted to change the name to the
African American Jazz Caucus (AAJC) and Dr. Ridley secured not-for-profit 501c3
status for the AAJC from the IRS, in 2001.

That same year, the AAJC organized the AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band™ to showcase, in an international forum, the outstanding talent that exists and is being cultivated
by jazz educators at HBCUs. Band members are selected via an annual blind
audition conducted by an independent panel of jazz professionals/educators. The
process is managed by the AAJC HBCU Jazz Directors Committee- Dr. Russell
Thomas, Chairman, Jackson State University;
Dr. Ira Wiggins, Vice Chairman, North Carolina
Central University;
Dr. Howard Harris, Texas Southern University; Professor James Patterson, Clark Atlanta
University; Dr. John Lamkin, University of Maryland
Eastern Shore and Professor James Holden, Virginia State
University. If selected,
the students are given the opportunity to perform at high visibility venues,
during the academic year. The band's first performance was at the 2002 IAJE
conference in Long Beach,
CA. Jazz Legend, Gerald Wilson was the conductor. He is now our Conductor
Emeritus and a recipient of the NEA Jazz Master Award.

The participation in the blind auditions for the HBCU Big Band has grown to include students from as many as fifteen HBCUs. In the Fall of 2007, 52 students auditioned for the 2008
Band. They represented the following institutions:

Hampton University (VA), Elizabeth City State University (NC), Lincoln University (PA), Morehouse College (GA), Fayetteville State University (NC), Jackson State University
(MS), Texas Southern University (TX), North Carolina Central University (NC),
University of Maryland Eastern Shore (MD), Clark Atlanta University (GA), South
Carolina State University (SC), and North Carolina A & T State University

Featured guest soloists with the band have included stellar jazz artists, Ed Thigpen; Jimmy Owens; Marcia Miget; Joe Chambers, Oliver Lake and NEA Jazz Masters Jimmy Heath and
Jimmy Cobb. AAJC Board member, Professor Larry Dwyer, Director of Jazz Studies
and Assistant Director of Bands, University of Notre Dame, facilitated the
band's performances in 2006 and 2008 at the 48th and 50th anniversaries of the
Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival. Since 2006, noted bassist, arranger,
composer, Artistic Director, John Clayton has granted scholarships, to selected
outstanding student members of the band to attend the Summer Centrum Jazz
Workshop, in Port Townsend, WA.

The AAJC Jazz Dance Band began under the direction of the legendary saxophonist and arranger Jimmy Coe. The current director is David Hardiman, Professor of Music, Emeritus, City
College of San Francisco. For many years, the AAJC Jazz Dance was always a
standing room only highlight of the IAJE Conferences. In addition, the AAJC
ProJam Session, at the IAJE Conferences, always served as memorial tributes.
The purpose was to acknowledge noted jazz legends that passed during the
previous year.

AAJC also produced an annual jazz presentation with a religious theme as the final event of the IAJE Conferences. The purpose was to emphasize the role of the church in the
spiritual roots and heritage of the African Diaspora. The service has featured
major works by Dr. Willis Kirk, President Emeritus, City College of San
Francisco; Dr. Howard Harris, Texas Southern University; singer, Ruth Naomi
Floyd and Dr. William Smith, North
Carolina Central University.

Noted AAJC member jazz photographer Jim Alexander's creative work has become a staple at AAJC events. His work can be seen at

The AAJC presented outstanding panels and workshops at the IAJE Conferences featuring, NEA Jazz Master, Barry Harris; Dr. James Ammons, former Chancellor of North Carolina
Central University, now President of Florida A&M; Dr. Karen Chandler, College of Charleston, SC, and noted journalist, Jack McCray,
Charleston Post & Courier. Performance appearances throughout the
conferences were given by NEA Jazz Masters Billy Higgins, Frank Foster, Ron
Carter, Dr. David Baker, Jimmy Cobb and jazz artists Cedar Walton, Stanley
Turrentine, Hank Marr, the Harlem Renaissance Band, Everett Green, and Jamey

In 2006, Dr. Larry Ridley and Dr. James Ammons, then Chancellor of North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC, conceived the idea of creating the first Jazz Research Institute and Jazz Hall
of Fame at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The project was
approved by the NCCU Board of Governors, in the spring of 2007.

The First Annual North Carolina Central University/African American Jazz Caucus Jazz Research Institute (NAJRI), HBCU Jazz Conference/Festival, was held June 20 – 23, 2007,
in Durham.
Among the outstanding participants were writer, A.B. Spellman, pianist Kenny
Barron and trumpeter Jimmy Owens.

The Second Annual Conference was held April 16 – 19, 2008. Noted participants included NEA Jazz Masters, Dr. Billy Taylor and Dan Morgenstern. The AAJC also produced the First
Annual NAJRI Jazz Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Conference on April
17, 2008. The inductees were: John Coltrane; the Honorable Congressman John
Conyers, Jr., (D-MI); Lou Donaldson; Tal Farlow; Albert Heath; Jimmy Heath;
Percy Heath; Thelonious Sphere Monk; Max Roach; Nina Simone and Dr. Billy Taylor.
Outstanding music for this celebration was provided by the Cedar Walton Trio.
The legendary pianist was accompanied by David Williams, contrabass and George
Fludas, drums.

The AAJC is actively involved in supporting the initiatives espoused in House Concurrent Resolution 57, " is the sense of the Congress that Jazz is hereby designated as
a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our
attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and
promulgated." This Resolution was introduced by the Honorable Congressman
John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Allen Cranston (D-CA). It was passed
unanimously by both Houses of Congress in 1987. As a part of this effort, AAJC
Executive Director, Dr. Larry Ridley served as the moderator of the 2007 Jazz
Issues Panel and as a panelist in 2008 at the Congressional Black Caucus
Conferences, in Washington,

This year, the AAJC, in partnership with the Schomburg Center of the New York
Public Library, will mark the beginning of Black History month by presenting
the 2009 AAJC/HBCU Student All-star Big Band in concert. The performance will
take place at 3:00 p.m., Sunday, February 1st in the Schomburg Langston Hughes
Auditorium, 135th Street
and Malcolm X Boulevard.
Please join us in celebrating Black History Month, in Harlem!

Tickets: Members, $16; Non Members, $20. For ticket charge call the Schomburg Shop at (212) 491-2206.

Working together works!


For further information: (212) 979-0304

The preceding copy was provided by The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc.

Comment by Kevin Hurst, Sr. on December 27, 2010 at 9:43pm
Wasn't Milt jackson also from Indianapolis?- kev
Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on December 27, 2010 at 9:32pm

JAZZED MAGAZINE                        Issue Date: 2009, May

Jazz And Its South
Carolina Roots

A Jazz History and Education Model of the Charleston Jazz Initiative

"Corner Pocket," "Whirly Bird," "Trouble in Mind," "Ballin' the Jack," "Tuxedo Junction," "Since I Fell
for You," and "Brother Blake." What does each of these musical
compositions have in common? Each is connected in some way to South Carolina and Charleston, in particular.

Written by the nearly 50-year veteran of the Basie band, Charlestonian Freddie Green's "Corner Pocket" is a tune he composed which was later popularized by Sarah
Vaughan under the title "Until I Met You." Search YouTube for a
1965 Basie band performance of "Whirly Bird" featuring Eddie
Lockjaw Davis on tenor sax and Charleston
native Rufus "Speedy" Jones on a speedy drum solo. Charlestonian,
Bertha "Chippie" Hill recorded "Trouble in Mind" on Okeh
Records in Chicago as a bandleader with sideman Louis Armstrong sitting in on
cornet on February 23, 1926. One of the great dance tunes of the mighty jazz
dance era was Chris Smith's fox trot – "Ballin' the Jack." Born in Charleston in 1879, he
composed the tune in 1913. It became a world dance craze nearly a decade
before "The Charleston." Julian Dash, a Charleston native and Erskine Hawkins'
tenor saxophonist for nearly 20 years co-composed "Tuxedo Junction"
with Hawkins and William Johnson. Another jazz standard – "Since I Fell
for You" was composed by bandleader, Buddy Johnson of Darlington, South
Carolina. Johnson had one of the more popular rhythm and blues bands that
toured throughout the southeast in the 1940s. His vocalist sister, Ella
Johnson was responsible for many of the band's hits. "Brother
Blake" was written in 2005 by the gifted drummer and Charleston native Quentin Baxter (currently
touring with jazz vocalist Rene Marie). It is an homage to William Blake, a
music teacher with Charleston's
famed Jenkins Orphanage bands. And then there's the city of Cheraw
native, Dizzy Gillespie – South
Carolina's most celebrated musician.

There's also Cat Anderson, Jabbo Smith, Bubber Miley, Fud Livingston, Jimmy Hamilton, Freddy Jenkins and many more...nearly 65 bandleaders, sideman and composers uncovered
to date by a small but formidable jazz research project that I direct – the
Charleston Jazz Initiative (CJI). In fact, Dan Morgenstern, the preeminent
jazz historian believes that the number of musicians that came from South Carolina and Charleston in particular is actually
"quite remarkable." Some can be found on the CJI's Web site – Many of these musicians have South Carolina roots while others received
their first musical training at the venerable Jenkins Orphanage in this
coastal city.

Charleston is a hot jazz city today and by all accounts, it was this way in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its story begins in 1891 and is one of vision, charity, entrepreneurship,
discipline, and the teaching of music at two Charleston institutions – one, an orphanage
– the Jenkins Orphanage and the other, a private-turned public school called
the Avery Normal Institute.

The Jenkins Orphanage, one of the longest-operating black orphanages in the country, was founded in 1891 by Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, a Baptist minister. Three years later
in 1894, its bands were formed and became widely acclaimed. Reverend Jenkins'
strategy was to raise money for the orphanage by teaching music to the
orphans, and having them perform in Charleston,
around the country, and in Europe. Brass was
the instrument of choice. Since so many orphans had tuberculosis, Jenkins
felt that teaching them to play brass instruments would strengthen their

What happened in 1894 at the orphanage was the beginning of a seminal American jazz story – the birthing of the Jenkins Orphanage Bands that just one year later in 1895, had
them performing on the streets of London
to raise money for the orphanage. There were not one but five bands between
1895 and the 1930s that toured up and down the east coast, to Europe, the Midwest and other places in between. It was a
management tour de force – each band had its own manager, cook, and valet and
traveled from town to town spreading this hot new music and collecting funds
for the orphanage all at the same time.

Jenkins not only trained its orphans and later, other students of music, to read and play all kinds of music, but by the turn of the 20th Century, the institution had developed a
well-oiled and funded machine in the bands with patronage Reverend Jenkins
meticulously cultivated from Charleston's wealthy families. From 1894 through
the 1960s, the institution used music as a learning tool and produced many
great musicians. The residents read music – printed scores were the norm.
They were taught basic musicianship not jazz. But elements of jazz playing
seeped quietly into Jenkins from runaway orphans who returned with the latest
jazz technique. Gus Aiken was one of them, who would later play with Louis
Armstrong. He introduced the art of flutter-tonguing and growling on the
trumpet to Jenkins' brass players – a technique used widely by trumpeters in
Duke Ellington's orchestra.

The Jenkins bands toured extensively in the United States and in Europe, played at the inauguration of
President Taft in 1909, and created a world dance craze that became the
symbol of the Jazz Age, "The Charleston." The popular 1923 song,
"The Charleston," composed by James P. Johnson, was inspired by
observing Charlestonians and Jenkins' musicians dancing movements called

Another important institution in Charleston was the Avery Normal Institute (now the Avery
Research Center).
It was one of the country's first private schools for newly freed blacks
founded in 1865 after the Civil War. Avery trained many Charlestonians to be
teachers until 1954. With a rigorous arts and music curriculum, Avery hosted
programs for its students – Langston Hughes read poetry there in the 1930s,
and recitals were performed by Roland Hayes and Marian Anderson. Julian Dash
and Willie Smith emerged from Avery with stints with Erskine Hawkins (Dash),
Duke Ellington, and Jimmie Lunceford, among others. Edmund Thornton Jenkins
was an alumnus of Avery too. A classically trained composer of orchestral and
ensemble works, instrumentalist, and student of London's Royal Academy of Music, Edmund was
a son of Reverend Jenkins.

In the infancy of their musical careers, musicians from Jenkins, especially brass players, were recruited into the bands of Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Louis
Armstrong, and many others. In fact, Basie and Ellington were known to
frequent Charleston
scouting brass players from the Jenkins ranks. In speaking about the training
of these musicians, well known jazz advocate A.B. Spellman stated in an oral
history we did with him several years ago that what is fascinating about
Charleston's jazz history is that "these musicians left here [many in
the late 1920s] and hit New York, the most competitive jazz scene in the
world, fully hatched, and in full command of their instruments and styles.
This indicates that they must have come from a vibrant jazz scene."

So, we at CJI believe that New Orleans could not have been the only crucible for American swing. When Louis
Armstrong was born in 1900 or 1901, players from the Jenkins Orphanage were
already swinging melodies in the United States and Europe – as early as 1895,
five years before Louis Armstrong was born. And more food for thought: The
Southern Syncopated Orchestra and James Reese Europe's 369th U.S. Infantry
Band, often credited with introducing jazz to Europe around 1919, had
Charleston and Jenkins players in their bands...trumpeters Arthur Briggs,
Amos Gaillard, and Francis Eugene Mikell; trombonist Herb Flemming; twin
drummers Stephen Wright and brother Herbert (who was tragically killed in

While it may be risky to say that elements of jazz emerged in Charleston in the 1890s with the founding of the Jenkins Orphanage Bands, we at CJI
wonder. The first historian to document Charleston's
early influence in jazz was British historian John Chilton who wrote A Jazz
Nursery (1980) – a short but insightful book on Charleston's Jenkins Orphanage Bands. In
it, he said, "The early bands played a robust music that loosened up the
formal ragtime arrangements, and produced emphatic syncopations when playing
marches and two-steps. By 'raggin' marches and popular tunes of the day, I
think the early bands imparted a 'jazzy' phrasing to their performances"
(30-31). My CJI colleagues and I believe that this "loosening" of
rhythms, and the syncopation and melodic improvisation that Chilton speaks of
were actually elements of swing beginning to be heard in the bands' sounds.
Chilton, however, cautions us about referring to these sounds as jazz.
Nevertheless, what is not disputed is that the Jenkins Orphanage was indeed a
19th and 20th century haven for music education that emerged from its
hallowed and disciplined halls. And at that stately former marine hospital
were produced many of this country's most gifted ensemble musicians.

All of this is being chronicled by CJI – a research initiative based at the College of Charleston – in the Arts
Management Program's School of the Arts, and in partnership with the Avery Research
Center, a significant repository of South Carolina's
African American history. CJI maintains significant partnerships with many
individuals and organizations throughout the country including Dr. Larry
Ridley and the African American Jazz Caucus. Founded in March 2003, I am a
co-founder and principal of the initiative along with Charlestonian Jack
McCray, producer of the city's new resident jazz orchestra, author of
Charleston Jazz, and weekly columnist of JazzBeat(s) for Charleston's Post and Courier. We are
joined by musicians, media artists, educators, jazz and oral historians,
archivists, family members of deceased musicians, and an international
advisory group of jazz scholars including Dr. Ridley; Dan Morgenstern; A.B.
Spellman; Jeffrey Green, British biographer of Edmund Thornton Jenkins; and
Wolfram Knauer, director of Darmstadt's (Germany) Jazz Institut.

CJI's mission is to document the untold jazz history in Charleston, the South Carolina Lowcountry, and its movement throughout the United States, Europe
and the diaspora beginning in the late 19th century through today. We're
examining this tradition through oral histories, public programs, creative
collaborations with individuals and organizations, and an archival collection
based at Avery of photographs, oral histories, manuscripts, and original
works that illuminate Charleston's
past and living jazz history. Our objective is to honor the countless numbers
of sidemen who made an indelible imprint on American jazz and world music,
but who left South Carolina
– their native or first musical training roots largely unknown to many.

CJI's focus is to document the social history of Charleston's jazz legacy as well as its musical history. It is my belief that examining
human culture and social experiences as CJI does must come from scholars in
the academy as well as laypeople outside of the academy. So, to record this
social history, it is the local community – those with colorful memories,
stories, and anecdotes – who are helping us tell a rich story of Charleston's place in
jazz history. In their oral histories, they describe for us the faces,
sounds, and stories of South Carolina's musicians – who they were, where they
lived, how they dressed, and who they went crabbing with – just as much as
they and industry-musicians tell us about the cutting-edge and pioneering
talent of these ensemble musicians. Through the proud and dignified voices of
musicians' sons, granddaughters, cousins, neighbors, family and
musician-friends, teachers, and runnin' partners, we tell their life stories.

Charleston's jazz legacy did not end during the heyday of the Jenkins bands. It continues in the modern-day jazz landscape of this historic city – in "live jazz" heard in
Charleston's many fine restaurants seven days a week, concert halls and small
performing venues, the internationally-recognized Spoleto Festival and its
regional counterpart, Piccolo Spoleto, new jazz clubs that are sprouting and
reconfiguring themselves for a growing jazz audience, a new jazz organization
– Jazz Artists of Charleston, annual jazz galas among many social and civic
organizations, the new Charleston Jazz Orchestra, a new weekly jazz column in
Charleston's daily newspaper, and a flourishing statewide jazz education
initiative and countless documentary evidence by CJI.

South Carolina's jazz story is an American jazz story. Biographer Jeffrey Green reminds us why: "Look carefully at the careers of the boys and girls who were raised in the Old Marine
Hospital on Franklin Street, Charleston [the Jenkins Orphanage]. I am
convinced...that there is a Charleston
contribution to the arts of America
that traditional views on jazz – and other music – have overlooked."

Dr. Karen Chandler is associate professor of Arts Management, School of the Arts at the College of Charleston and co-founder and principal of the Charleston Jazz Initiative. A classically trained pianist, she has
been a music and arts management educator, and academic administrator in
colleges and universities throughout her 30-year career. She is editor of Charleston: A Cradle of
Jazz (2005) and lead author of "...But the Greatest of These Is
Charity": The Charleston Jazz Initiative's Study of the Jenkins
Orphanage Bands," Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society (Winter

The preceding copy was provided by The African American Jazz Caucus, Inc.


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