104 East 126th Street
New York, NY 10035
Harlem Speaks Honors Eddie Preston
Eddie Preston, trumpeter July 27, 2006
Monsignor John Sanders, trombonist August 10, 2006
Charli Persip, bandleader/drummer August 24, 2006
Texas-born Eddie Preston will recount his 50+ year career of performing on trumpet with bands led by lights such as Johnny Otis, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Sonny Stitt, Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington on July 27, 2006. Recent Harlem Speaks guest Bobbi Humphrey (March 16th) told fond tales of Preston, her cousin, who is so close to another honoree Clark Terry, that every time he comes to New York, the two talk and play trumpet together all night long.
Monsignor John Sanders (trombone) attended The Juilliard School before entering the US Navy, where he played in the Navy Band. He later went on to perform in clubs around New York, including a lengthy stint at the Savoy Ballroom with Lucky Thompson's band before joining the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1954.
He toured with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for five years. Some of his personal highlights include the Orchestra's collaboration with the Symphony of the Air at Carnegie Hall during the premiere of Night Creature in 1955 and the recording of Black, Brown, and Beige with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson in 1957. For the past 25 years, Sanders has served as a Roman Catholic priest at St. Mary Church in Norwalk. Hear him on August 10, 2006.
He's been playing drums since the age of four, and is a graduate of Dizzy Gillespie's big bands and countless recordings, including classic Blue Note dates. Charli Persip is a definitive modern drummer who, for over the past 25+ years has led his own powerfully swinging big band, Supersound (formerly known as Superband). Check out the long-time Harlem resident's discussion of his life and career on August 24, 2006.
Since 1942, Showmans Cafe has showcased top musicians for Harlem audiences, which manager Mona Lopez (27 years) and barmaid Lil" Pierce (19 years) called family" at Harlem Speaks on July 6, 2006.
Several Showmans regulars peppered the audience at the tribute to Harlem's longest running jazz club, and spoke freely about their memorable experiences at the venue. Retired flight attendant Nellie Aviles said that they've seen their children grow up together; Vince Austin spoke of the scrumptious food served, especially on Saturday nights; and Hermon Banks, an Internal Affairs man and colleague of retired detective and Showmans owner Al Howard, explained how many of their fellows mates in blue loved to go to the club because they could relax in the comfort of good folks and no riffraff.
Banks also gave an analogy between a jazz band and a good detective squad. Both work in harmony toward one end result--the playing of a tune."
Mona and Lil discussed the wonderful working environment at the club, and the many great musicians who've they have witnessed over the years, such as Bill Doggett, George Benson, Seleno Clarke, Irene Reid, Jimmy Preacher" Robins, Gloria Lynne, Joey Morant, Akiko Tsuruga, Grady Tate, and more. They also described two previous incarnations of the club, the first next to the Apollo Theater, the second on Eighth Avenue, where the Harlem USA development now stands; Retirees Night, held on the first Tuesday of each month as well as the Thursday evening Tap Night. They also revealed details of Mr. Howard's illustrious career, including saving Rev. Martin Luther King's life when a deranged woman stabbed him in Harlem near the retail store Blumstein's.
As a rookie cop on the beat, Al went to the aid of Dr. King, who had been stabbed by a woman with a letter opener," said Mona. When they were going to pull it out, he had the presence of mind to tell them not to yet. If they had pulled it out before he was taken to the hospital, Rev. King might have died."
In all, it was a fitting tribute to a club which maintains a down home ambiance, with great music, musicians who know they will be paid at the end of the night, a receptive audience of regulars, who always feel welcome, especially considering the homemade free food, no cover, with just a two drink minimum. A steady customer base of family trumps greed. Showmans, located at 375 West 125th Street (between St. Nicholas Avenue and Morningside Drive), is perhaps the best deal of any jazz club in NYC.
The Harlem Speaks series is produced by the Jazz Museum in Harlem's Executive Director, Loren Schoenberg, Co-Director Christian McBride, and Greg Thomas Associates. The series occurs at the offices of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, located at 104 East 126th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, from 6:30pm-8:30pm.
This discussion series is free to the public.