The Troy Street Observer

Stone Blues and Beyond: A Son of Roxbury Recognized

Photo of Daoud Haroon
Trombonist and now USA Fellow for 2014, Daoud Haroon

Roxbury-born trombonist and percussionist Daoud Haroon was recently named a 2014 Fellow by United States Artists (USA)—a prestigious fellowship, accompanied by a generous grant. It is a high honor for the 81-year-old Haroon, acknowledging his lifetime of work in the arts, education and religion. He could never have foreseen all the turns his life would take when he was a young trombonist in this town, back when he was known as John Mancebo Lewis, another of the talented musicians who grew up in Roxbury in the years following World War II.

Like others from that time and place—trumpeter Joe Gordon, bassist Bernie Griggs, drummer Roy Haynes—Lewis learned his jazz informally, on bandstands and in jam sessions. He wasn’t a conservatory student, but he took lessons from someone who was. His teacher, Chuck Connors, studied at the Boston Conservatory, and Connors and Lewis played together in Richie Lowery’s Boston big band in the mid 1950s. Connors would join Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1961 and remain in the trombone section for 13 years.

In 1958, Lewis joined the quintet of another Boston Conservatory student and Lowery bandmate, saxophonist and composer Ken McIntyre (not yet known as Makanda). Others in the group were pianist Dizzy Sal (Edward Saldanha), bassist Larry Richardson, and drummer Bill Grant.

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Jan 12, 1990: The Second MLK Music Achievement Awards

The Martin Luther King Music Achievement Awards were presented by the City of Boston to notable African-American artists with strong Boston ties three times, in 1988, 1990, and 1991. The awards ceremony was coupled with a concert, and funds raised by that were used to support citywide activities marking Rev. King’s January 15 birthday. The 1990 ceremony took place at Symphony Hall.

PHoto of Dr. M.L. King
Dr. King speaking in Boston. Photo Boston University.

The Class of 1990 included drummer Alan Dawson, singer and educator Semenya McCord, choir director and educator John Andrew Ross, and two pop singers, Jan Strickland from the 1950s and Bobby Brown from the 1980s. (The Class of 1988 included Mae Arnette, Jaki Byard, Roy Haynes, Sabby Lewis, and Donna Summer).

The 1990 concert featured the Count Basie Orchestra led by Frank Foster, and Tony Bennett with his trio.

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May 20, 2001: A Block Party on Chick Corea Way

On May 20, 2001, the City of Chelsea honored Chick Corea, the home town boy made good, by renaming the block of Everett Avenue between Arlington and Walnut Streets to Chick Corea Way. Chick was there, with family and friends…but I don’t know if he played. I mean, he must have played, right? They were naming a street after him.

Photo of Chick Corea
The Chick Corea Way

Pianist, composer, and bandleader Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea was born in Chelsea on June 12, 1941, and his trumpet-playing father sat him down at the piano at about age five. Corea always knew he was going to be a musician. While still in high school, he gigged with trumpeter Phil Edmunds, and he had his own groups—a sextet where he first tried his hand at arranging, and a trio with drummer Tony Williams, who was even younger, and Don Alias, then playing bass. His second trio, with drummer Joe Locatelli, played at the Stable. Though underaged, that’s where Corea spent his free time, picking up gigs and soaking up the wisdom of Herb Pomeroy and his men.

Corea entered Columbia University in 1959 but dropped out after a few months, then tried the Juilliard School and wasn’t happy there either. Back in Boston with Al Natale’s band at the Mayfair, Corea worked with his first big name, Cab Calloway. Then he went on the road in the early 1960s, working across the jazz spectrum, from Billy May to Mongo Santamaria to Blue Mitchell to Sarah Vaughan. In March 1968 he made the classic trio recording of Now He Sings, Now He Sobs with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes, and Corea jumped to the front of the line among the young piano players.

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April 21, 2007: Welcome Back, Jazz Week!

Jazz Week 2007 logo
Jazz Week 2007

JazzBoston kicked off a renewed and revived Boston Jazz Week, the first in 24 years, on April 21, 2007.

From 1973 to 1983, the Boston’s Jazz Coalition sponsored Jazz Week, an annual springtime burst of energy that found jazz music in venues likely and unlikely, at all times of day, and played by a few name bands and many local ones.

Saxophonist, photographer and activist Arni Cheatham was the Vice President of the Jazz Coalition in 1981, and at the start of Jazz Week that year, he told the Boston Globe’s Ernie Santosuosso: “The overall idea of Boston Jazz Week from the beginning was to show people who live here that, sure, there’s a considerable thrill to hearing a name artist, but there is as much good music happening in a setting with the people who live here and who are as serious about their craft and who are excellent performers as well. We hope to stimulate interest in them and to assist in audience development for these artists.”

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