Earlier this century, jazz clubs bejeweled the nation, and jazz music was everywhere - swing, be-bop, big band, cool school, Latin, ragtime, hard bop - no matter the name, the music could be heard uptown and downtown from Harlem to New Orleans, Kansas City to San Antonio. Musicians toured these clubs and ballrooms presenting this dazzling array of musical styles to enthusiastic audiences who in turn, took the music and musicians to their hearts. This fusion of music-makers and music-lovers made jazz what it is today - America's classical music. In addition to this program booklet [/Web site], 651, An Arts Center in Brooklyn, Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem, New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Tribeca Performing Arts Center in lower Manhattan, The Madame Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis, Folly Theater in Kansas City, The Philadelphia Clef Club in Philadelphia, America's Jazz Heritage, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, and The Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio, will present mainstage and humanities activities at each of their venues.
The Lost Jazz Shrines Project represents a labor of love for the participant organizations, with particular focus on the African American shrines and their founding contributions to this wonderful art form. It is in the true spirit of paying homage to unique and historic venues - ranging from corner bars to small nightclubs to "music rooms" (venues dedicated to jazz music, as opposed to venues where jazz is at best "incidental music" to accompany drinking, socializing, and assorted merriment) to theaters to major concert halls - that this project was conceived. While the individuals who have painstakingly toiled in the trenches to give this music the lustrous dignity and musical majesty that it has earned through its roughly 100 years of existence are in abundance here, it is the venues themselves that have provided a vital platform for the transmittal of those sounds. And it is the venues themselves that provide the basis for this national project and the articles in this book. I would like to acknowledge the following individuals who played key roles in the conceptualization of the Lost Jazz Shrines Project: Mikki Shepard, without whose vision this project would not have been possible, and the 651 organization; David Jackson, the stalwart Memphis-based writer whose fertile mind first raised this project as the germ of an idea; and the partner organizations whose enthusiasm for David Jackson's seed pod and Mikki Shepard's subsequent fertilization and plan made it all possible. Also lovingly acknowledged are the 651 staff persons who have sheperheded this project to fruition since Mikki joined the Rockefeller Foundation: Executive Director Maurine Knighton and the two hard working women who oversaw its implementation, Krista Fabian and Abiba Wynn; and we can't forget Sara Coffey, who assisted with the project in its early stages.
We humbly thank the writers without whose contributions this book would not have been possible and who represent some of the finest voices in the land on this music. The selected recordings - in many cases based on recommendations made by the writers themselves - that are listed at the close of each piece headed Recommended Sounds, feature compact discs that the editor feels represent in most cases artists key to that particular article, and who in some cases either paid homage to a particular jazz scene or were actually recorded live in Lost Jazz Shrines. They are in no way discographic in their logic, they merely represent sounds that reflect the subject matter of the piece and the project. Vinyl Rarities selections are just that: rare vinyl recordings, most of which have not yet been reissued on compact disc. Every major metropolis seems to have at least one indomitable record store that continues to fiercely (and wisely, given the economic possibilities of the "antique" business) stock vinyl recordings - usually used, often collector's items. Some of those outlets recommended include the Jazz Record Center in New York; the Jazz Record Mart in Chicago; Joe's Record Paradise in suburban Washington, D.C.; and Bud's House of Jazz in Seattle. Barring that, there are always those ubiquitous listings in the backs of JazzTimes and Down Beat magazines. Happy hunting!
- Willard Jenkins