Thank You, John Conyers
Among our annual best New Year’s wishes to our jazz masters like Jimmy Cobb, Nasar Abadey, Fred Foss, Wayne Wilentz, Michael Thomas, Sharon Clark and many others, and best wishes to our jazz venues and supporters, a special best wish and thank you goes out this January to John Conyers Jr., a longtime Democrat in the House of Representatives who is stepping down from his post.
We thank Conyers for being the highest-ranking best friend our music has ever had. His signature accomplishment for our musical heritage was sponsorship of the 1987 Congressional legislation known as H.R. 57, which honors jazz as a national treasure.
It reads in part: “Whereas, jazz has achieved preeminence throughout the world as an indigenous American music and art form, bringing to this country and the world a uniquely American musical synthesis and culture through the African-American experience and
1. makes evident to the world an outstanding artistic model of individual expression and democratic cooperation within the creative process, thus fulfilling the highest ideals and aspirations of our republic,
2. is a unifying force, bridging cultural, religious, ethnic and age differences in our diverse society,
3. is a true music of the people, finding its inspiration in the cultures and most personal experiences of the diverse peoples that constitute our Nation,
4. has evolved into a multifaceted art form which continues to birth and nurture new stylistic idioms and cultural fusions,
5. has had an historic, pervasive and continuing influence on other genres of music both here and abroad …”
What is more, Conyers has been the driving force behind the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation annual September jazz concert and panel discussion, and he has followed up his sponsorship of H.R. 57 by introducting other legislation in the last few years, including H.R. 2823, the National Jazz Preservation and Education Act, which would “create oral and video histories of leading jazz artists, acquire, preserve and interpret artifacts, and conduct exhibitions and other educational activities; encourage the introduction of jazz to our youth … [through] a Jazz Artists in the Schools Program; and create a new Ambassadors of Jazz Program …”
Conyers also introduced the National Jazz Preservation, Education and Promulgation Act of 2014, H.R. 4280, which would establish programs and provide funding for a National Jazz Preservation Program and a Jazz Education in Elementary and Secondary Schools program, and “contemplates” the establishment of a “Promulgation Program to support business and enterprise initiatives in the field of Jazz.”
Besides the accomplishments Conyers achieved during his long and distinguished career for the great state of Michigan, and the nation, we owe him many thanks for his putting jazz firmly in the national spotlight.
InPerson … St. John’s College High School Jazz
Congratulations again to Kenneth Hamman, director, and Colin Crawford, assistant director, of the St. John’s College High School bands in Northwest DC for another group of fine musicians. At the Winter Jazz and Percussion Concert last month, Christian Crawford on saxophone shined early with the Competition Jazz Ensemble on the Richard Linton tune “Diggin’ the Dorian.” Crawford, Aaron Robert Jr. on trombone, Jared Byrd on piano and Michael Schaffer on flute provided spicy melodies on “Song for My Father” with the Jazz Combo, and trumpeter Jadon Michael was smooth and fluid on “Impressions” with the Jazz Lab group. And the Swing Band provided bright, swinging sounds on “Tango for Jam Jam,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the “Bare Necessities.”
January Highlights: … Stanley Jordan, Jan. 11-14, Blues Alley … Lionel Lyles Quintet, Jan. 12, Westminster Presbyterian Church … Veronneau “National CD Release Party,” Jan. 16, Blues Alley … Max Vanderbeek Jazz Group with Lottie Porch, Jan. 18, Germano’s Piattini/Baltimore … Joey DeFrancesco, Jan. 18-21, Blues Alley … 19th Jazz Night Anniversary, Jan. 19, Westminster … Salim Washington, Jan. 19-20, Blues Alley … Louis Hayes, Serenade for Horace, Jan. 19-20, Kennedy Center Jazz Club … Honoring Ron Sutton/George Gray Jazz Coalition of New York, Jan. 20, Caton Castle/Baltimore … Igor Butman, Jan. 23, Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club … Joel Ross Good Vibes, Jan. 26, KC Jazz Club … Chris Grasso Presents Shacara Rogers, Jan. 26, Westminster … Annapolis Jazztet, Jan. 26, Germano’s Piattini/Baltimore … Benito Gonzalez, Jan. 26-27, Blues Alley … The In Series: All the Things You Are: Jerome Kern, Jan. 20, 21, 28, Atlas Performing Arts Center … Roy Ayers, Jan. 25-28, Blues Alley …Bohemian Caverns, Jan. 29, Blues Alley … Peter Fraize Quintet, Jan. 30, Blues Alley …
January Birthdays: Frank Wess 4; Clarke 9; Max Roach 10; Jay McShann 12; Melba Liston, Joe Pass 13; Gene Krupa 15; Cedar Walton 17; Jimmy Cobb 20; J.J. Johnson 22; Gary Burton 23; Antonio Carlos Jobim 25; Bobby Hutcherson 27; Roy Eldridge 30.
Steve Monroe is a Washington, DC, writer who can be reached at email@example.com and followed at www.twitter.com/jazzavenues.