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Jazz Heroes of 2015: 24 honored in 22 cities

Apr 1st, 2015 | By

Two dozen “Jazz Heroes” — activists of positive influence on their musical communities — have been announced by the Jazz Journalists Association, in collaborations with community groups in 22 U.S. cities launching JazzApril 2015, a media campaign celebrating local activities during Jazz Appreciation Month leading to International Jazz Day.

2015JazzHeroeswURL.ver1The Jazz Heroes — who the JJA used to call its “A Team” — are activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz.”This year’s heroes including music educators from Baltimore, Bloomington IN, New Orleans and South Florida – presenters and producers of Washington D.C.’s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, Philadelphia’s Ars Nova Workshop, New York City’s Lady Got Chops festival, Tula’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in Seattle and New Jersey’s New Brunswick Jazz Project – providers of financial, logistical, media and moral support in Ann Arbor MI, Madison WI, Memphis, St. Louis and Tallahassee – artists who put extra effort into community engagement in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, New York’s Capital Region, Pittsburgh and Portland OR – plus a dentist based in Woodstock NY who recorded a late 1960s pop-rock hit and now offers health care to his jazz patients at steeply discounted rates.

Organizations collaborating on Jazz Hero events include A Place for Jazz (Albany), JazzBoston, Elastic Arts (Chicago), B Sharp’s Jazz Café, B’town Jazz, JazzStock, Kuumbwa Jazz, the Portland PDX Jazz Festival, the New Brunswick Jazz Project, WEMU, the Mid-South Jazz Foundation,

Alphabetically, the heroes are:

  • Tatsu Aoki (Chicago), bridging jazz, blues, Asian improv and more
  • David C. Bradford, Sr. (Memphis), founder of Mid-South Jazz Foundation
  • Mel Brown (Portland OR), soulful drummer spurs his hometown’s scene
  • Don Chisholm (Ann Arbor MI); supporting music students and jazz venues
  • Mark Christman (Philadelphia), solving challenges of cutting edge presentation
  • Kim A Clarke (New York City), producing Lady Got Chops on a shoestring
  • Virginia DeBerry (New Brunswick NJ), turning a jazz desert fertile
  • Carole and Stan Fiore (Tallahassee), “regulars” – backbone of a club’s success
  • Charles Fishman (Washington D.C), founded the Duke Ellington jazz festival
  • Charles Funn (Baltimore), trombonist’s 20 years in a Baltimore high school
  • Dr. Nelson Harrison (Pittsburgh), connecting Pittsburgh and the Trombetto
  • Mark Sumner Harvey (Boston), minister-trumpeter-catalyst of Boston jazz
  • Monika Herzig (Bloomington IN), rural communities and Girls Create Music
  • Tim Jackson (Santa Cruz), Kuumbwa Jazz from scratch, re-charge Monterey
  • Avotcja Jiltonilro (Bay Area), one-woman multi-culti whirlwind in our midst
  • Howard Landsman (Madison WI), the Snowy Egret of Madison jazz
  • Dr. Bruce Milner (Woodstock NY), a dentist’s sliding scale for jazz greats
  • Jack N. Schaffer (Memphis), Mid-South Jazz Foundation’a right hand man
  • Lee Shaw (NY Capital Region), a pianist’s jazz, even for her fellow patients
  • Mack Waldron (Seattle), a players bandleader is a players’ club owner
  • Dr. Michael White (New Orleans), insuring the future of early jazz traditions
  • Don Wolff (St. Louis), an “I love Jazz!” broadcaster of vision and grit
  • Nicole Yarling (South Florida), the violinist-vocalist runs a boot camp

Detailed biographies and photos of the Jazz Heroes are posted — please share the link! — at http://www.jjajazzawards.org/p/blog-page.html.

Local communities that nominate their heroes for JJA authorization obtain official proclamations from regional officials acknowledging their efforts, buzz about the Heroes and their April jazz activities to traditional and digital online media outlets, and hold public free events at which engraved Jazz Hero Awards are presented to the honorees. Information about these festivities will be forthcoming.

Announcement of the Jazz Heroes is the first stage of the JJA’s three-part 2015 Jazz Awards. Nominees for awards for excellence in jazz music and journalism will be announced April 15, and winners of the Awards for musical achievement will be announced April 30 – International Jazz Day. Those Awards will be presented at musicians’ performances nationwide. Winners of categories for excellence in music journalism will be announced at the JJA’s New York City Jazz Awards party, to be held Tuesday, June 16 at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Manhattan. Ticket information will be posted at JJANews and www.JJAJazzAwards.com.

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