The Jazz Museum in Harlem
104 East 126th Street
New York, NY 10035
Harlem Speaks Summer Line-Up
July 6, 2006 Tribute to Showmans Jazz Club
July 27, 2006 Eddie Preston, trumpeter
August 10, 2006 Monsignor John Sanders, trombonist
August 24, 2006 Charli Persip, bandleader/drummer
Following a splendid night of laughter and deep discussion with living legend Hank Jones, the Jazz Museum in Harlem announces its summer live discussions, starting with a tribute to Harlem's long- running jazz club in Harlem on Thursday July 6, 2006.
Showmans was a hang-out spot for Apollo entertainers and performers 60+ years ago. Back then it was next door to the famed theater, and was a segregated place, with sawdust on the floor," says current Showmans owner Al Howard. A fire in 1985 prompted a move to 8th Avenue between 124th and 125th streets. Howard's family had bought the club in 1978; he took over operations in '85 after retiring from a decorated career on the NYC police force. The Harlem USA development forced a move to the current location in 1999.
The club is now much smaller than its previous incarnations, but the close-knit feel for which it was known remains. The feeling of jazz community at Showman's is kept alive by long-term manager, Mona Lopez, and Lil" Pierce, barmaid there for close to 20 years.
They will tell the story of this famous club over and its many tales with illustrious musicians along with organist Jimmy Preacher' Robins and other special guests next Thursday, so be there!
Texas-born Eddie Preston will recount his 50+ year career, 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 Julliard 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.
For close to three hours on June 29, 2006 the impeccable Hank Jones regaled the 100+ attendees of Harlem Speaks with tale after tale of his illustrious career as one of the most beloved and respected pianists in the history of jazz.
Interviewed by museum co-directors Loren Schoenberg and Christian McBride, Jones not only told all present about his early years as the eldest son of the famed Jones jazz family, but led a virtual pun- fest!
His mom (an amateur pianist) and his father (a guitarist) were his earliest musical influences. His mother's blues records and his father's gospel recordings laid a foundation for his early interest in music. They had a player piano also, and I thought there was a little man in there," he said with laughter. His first piano teacher taught him stride piano.
His first professional gig came at the age of 13. He was paid 30 cents! He played all over Michigan thereafter, and his career prospects improved greatly after he gigged in Buffalo, New York after graduating from Pontiac High School. He met bassist Ray Brown while there.
He came to New York City, staying at the Harlem YMCA, to play with Hot Lips Page. He gave assessments of his thoughts on many of the other legendary pianists of jazz as well as comments on his times playing with Coleman Hawkins, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Jazz at the Philharmonic, Ben Webster, and many, many others.
Previous Harlem Speaks guest Joe Wilder, and long-time friend Jimmy Heath also joined Jones on stage to ask questions and recall their own experiences with the master.
He described the art of accompaniment to a tee, explaining how it's imperative to play appropriately for each artist. Ella, for instance, liked block chords in the breaks in the phrases," whereas Sarah liked single line fills.
Diversity is one of the keynotes of jazz," he said, and his playing and speaking style bespoke the same. His wit and humor, warmth and soul, dignity and great memory all combined to make one of the greatest nights ever for the Jazz Museum in Harlem's Harlem Speaks program.
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-8:00pm.
This discussion series is free to the public. To view the photo archives of Harlem Speaks, visit our website.