Jazz & Memphis' legacy of world-renowned African-American jazz artists will be celebrated Friday, June 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Historic Daisy Theater on Beale Street. The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) founder, Dr. Ronald Myers, will join local Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival founder and NJOF board member, Glynn Johns Reed, in collaborating with the Memphis Black Arts Alliance's Jazz-A-F!RE to debut a new Memphis tradition. This event will honor the African-American jazz legacy of internationally acclaimed Memphis musicians saxophonists Charles Lloyd, George Coleman & Frank Strozier, pianists Phineas Newborn & Harold Mabern and the legendary Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra.
Following the Lunceford tradition of professional musician-educators, teachers at MBAA's FireHouse Community Arts Academy and friends have formed the Jazz-AF!RE Ensemble. This ensemble which began performing monthly at the FireHouse in 2009, will headline the evening's entertainment. Performers include: Naomi Moody on vocals; Nokie Taylor, trumpet; Kent Suggs, bass; Stephen Lee, keyboard; James Sexton, percussion; and, Lance Thompson, vocals/guitar. FireHouse Jazz-A-F!RE BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument) favorites, singers and musicians will also perform. Dr. Myers, a physician and an acclaimed musician (piano and trumpet), is the national Juneteenth Jazz artist and will be featured.
"I feel extremely blessed to be able to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Juneteenth Freedom & Heritage Festival in collaboration with MBAA. Since it was this organization that first celebrated Juneteenth on Beale Street in 1984 and 1985," says Glynn Johns Reed.
Bennie Nelson West, Executive Director of the Memphis Black Arts Alliance's says, "This collaboration between the National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters and our organization is meant to recognize the historic contributions African-American jazz artists have made to this city, the nation and the world. The late Memphis jazz artist Fred Ford used to lament the lack of recognition Memphis' jazz heritage has received. I believe he and others who've gone on are smiling at the growth of jazz in Memphis in recent years, especially among the young. Our challenge is to ensure that the youth learn the rudiments of music and jazz and that's what we do at the Fire House Community Arts Academy. So this event is not only a celebration that jazz is alive in the city, it is also a fundraiser to help support the music education program at the Academy."
This event supports efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday observance (www.njof.org).