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Six Greats Inducted into Oklahoma Hall of Fame
(Published: May 23, 2007)

June will be jazz month in Tulsa as six great musicians will be inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame on the 20th, while the men and women of the Tulsa Fire Department are hailed at the Oklahoma Music and Jazz Fest on the 23rd.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's 19th Annual Induction Banquet Gala will be held on Wednesday evening, June 20, in the International Ballroom of the Downtown Doubletree Hotel. The black-tie scholarship fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. with a reception followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the Awards Ceremony at 8 p.m. Music for the Gala will be provided by Tulsa's own Jazz Hall inductee, Donald Ryan and his quartet. The award-winning Verdigris High School Jazz Quartet will perform during the reception.

Being honored with induction to the Hall of Fame are Dr. Billy Taylor, Frank Wess, Conrad Herwig, Leona Mitchell, the late James "Ace" Moreland and jazz ensemble Harmonious Monk.

In addition James O. Goodwin, publisher of The Oklahoma Eagle newspaper, will receive the Legacy Tribute Award while Michael P. Johnson, senior vice-president of the Williams Companies, will receive the Maxine Cissel-Horner Spirit of Community Excellence Award.

This star-studded night of music and glamour is a highlight of the year for the Jazz Hall and for many in the community, this event is the most entertaining of the year.

The Honorees:

Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award

Performer, recording artist, writer/composer, broadcaster, educator and statesman. Taylor stepped up his music studies while in college, and upon graduation, set out for New York City. With Art Tatum as his mentor, he soon found himself playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Don Byas and Oscar Pettiford. He was a member of the Don Redman Orchestra, the first American jazz band to visit the Continent after World War II.
Taylor launched an expansive recording career and produced more than two dozen albums.

In 1949 he published his first book, an instructional manual for be-bop piano. By that time, he had also begun to publish what was to become a body of nearly 300 songs. Taylor's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" is the anthem of Rob Reiner's film, "Ghosts of the Mississippi."

His first endeavor in broadcasting aired in 1958. His13-part series, "The Subject is Jazz," was the first history of jazz produced by the new National Educational Television Network. He was founder of Jazzmobile, an outreach organization that brings free concerts and music clinics to thousands in the inner city.

Dr. Taylor was appointed to the National Council for the Arts, the first jazz musician since Duke Ellington to be so honored. He was the third jazz musician to receive the National Medal of the Arts.

Living Legend

The renowned saxophonist (alto and tenor) and flautist was born in Kansas City and grew up in Sapulpa. Wess was taught classical music and belonged to an Oklahoma All-State High School Orchestra. Shortly thereafter, Wess moved to Washington, D.C., and attended the same school as Billy Taylor, where at lunchtime they jammed in the orchestra room. That's when he began playing jazz.

Wess received a degree in flute at the Washington D.C.'s Modern School of Music. From 1953 he joined Count Basie's band, playing flute and tenor sax. For six years, from 1959 through 1964, he won Down Beat's critic poll for flute.

In 2007 Wess was named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and was honored at Juilliard Jazz's Tribute to Jazz Legends in February.

Jazz Inductee

Jazz trombonist Conrad Herwig began his professional career in 1980 and has played with many of the most famous jazz ensembles in the world. He is an alumnus of North Texas State University in Denton, near his hometown Altus, Okla. Herwig has conducted master classes, seminars and workshops at major universities and conservatories around the world.

He is currently Professor of Jazz Trombone, Jazz Improvisation, and Jazz Composition and Arrangement at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He was elected to the Board of Advisors of the International Trombone Association for a second time in 2006.

Blues Inductee

Ace, born in Miami, Okla., in 1952, died at the age of 50. However, during that half century, Ace Moreland etched his name in the history book of blues. He was part Cherokee and all bluesman. A want-to-be-guitar player since age five, Moreland played in his first band by the time he was 12. After an apprenticeship on the Tulsa rock-blues scene, Ace and his left-handed guitar went to Macon, Ga. in the 1970s.

In addition to Ace playing guitars and a harmonica, he was a writer and vocalist. It was also considered by some that Ace was "the best kept secret in the blues," yet he has many CD's to his credit. He died in 2003.

International Opera and Gospel Inductee

Grammy-award winner Leona Mitchell emerged as one of America's leading lyric sopranos and has been in demand the world over for opera, concerts, recitals and television appearances.

Born in Enid, she began singing at in the choir of the Antioch Baptist Church where her father, Reverend Hulon Mitchell, was pastor. In 1973, she made her debut as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen with the San Francisco Opera. She received international attention as Bess in the first complete stereo recording of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra. She's a favorite of the Metropolitan Opera, where she performed for 18 consecutive seasons.

In 2006, she hosted the first "Leona Mitchell Music Camp" in Enid, where underprivileged and talented youth had a chance to be a part of a dance, song and opera experience.

Harmonious Monk
Legacy Tribute Award

Andy (Doug) McCormick, sax; Andy Bones, drums; Nigel Frye, Bass and Sean Al-Jibouri, guitar are four of Tulsa's finest talents. Harmonious Monk was formed over four years ago and has since become a staple in the regional music scene. They are known for playing infectious instrumental jazz/funk originals.

This quartet holds roots in improvisation, jazz, funk, Latin, hip-hop, and many other elements that they have combined to brew a wonderfully unique sound.

Special Music Tribute to Tulsa Fire Department

On Valentine's night of this year, the Jazz Depot's roof caught fire. There was only minimal damage to the new facility because the Tulsa Fire Department was quick to respond and take control. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame pays tribute to the men and women of the Tulsa Fire Department.


The FREE music concert will be held at the new Jazz Depot at 1st & Cincinnati, celebrating the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame's relocation to the old Tulsa Union Depot building in downtown Tulsa. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a stellar line-up of top Tulsa talent including headliner Grady Nichols, preceded by WallStreet (who will perform a tribute to the Motown sound), Jazz Hall Inductee and blues legend, Glenn R. Townsend, with special guests guitarist David Skinner and harmonica bluesman Junior Markham (both also Jazz Hall blues inductees) and SPOT Music Award-winning jazz ensemble Harmonious Monk completes the line-up.

Submitted By: jazzears

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