A list of major musicians who have appeared under Segal’s auspices would amount to a who’s-who of jazz over the past 55 years. Along the way, he and his son Wayne, who now manages the club, have provided an outlet for some of the music’s daring adventurers, witness this 1981 performance by those intrepid outriders of the avant-garde, the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
You heard, and most definitely saw, Lester Bowie, trumpet; Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell, reeds; Malachi Favors, bass; and Famoudou Don Moye, percussion. Of course, they all played percussion.
One of Segal’s most significant contributions to the health of Chicago’s jazz community has been his encouragement of developing musicians. Over the past few years that has encompassed a relationship with Bob Lark, director of the jazz program at DePaul University. Here is the DePaul Jazz Ensemble earlier this month with guest trumpeter Randy Brecker, and Lark conducting. They play Joe Clark’s arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t.”
Joe Segal, who has long helped to make that sort of thing possible, is being recognized for his long-running contributions to jazz. With the other new NEA Jazz Masters, he will receive his award, which carries a prize of $25,000, at a ceremony in New York City next April 20. Segal told Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune what he’ll do with the money: “We’ll put it right in our kitty,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of bills.”
To see the NEA’s official biography of Segal, with a partial list of live albums recorded at the Jazz Showcase, go here.