Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

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The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame (AJHoF) was founded in 1978, and opened a museum on September 18, 1993, with a mission "to foster, encourage, educate, and cultivate a general appreciation of the medium of jazz music as a legitimate, original and distinctive art form indigenous to America. Its mission is also to preserve a continued and sustained program of illuminating the contribution of the State of Alabama through its citizens, environment, demographics and lore, and perpetuating the heritage of jazz music."[1] It is located in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

The AJHoF Museum[edit]

The museum is located in Birmingham's historic Carver Theatre, which is part of the Birmingham Civil Rights District, along with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park. The museum contains more than 2,200 square feet (200 m2) of exhibits. The Jazz Hall of Fame also sponsors jazz performances around the city and brings jazz to many local students with school visits from musicians. Along with jazz memorabilia such as paintings, quilts, instruments, and personal effects of such artists as Ella Fitzgerald and W.C. Handy, the tour experience itself is guided by Dr. Frank Adams.

Members of the AJHoF Free Saturday Jazz Class, instructed by Ray Reach, working on the bossa nova song, "Chega de Saudade," by Antonio Carlos Jobim, May 23, 2009.
Members of the AJHoF Free Saturday Jazz Class, instructed by Ray Reach, May 23, 2009.

Free Saturday Jazz Classes[edit]

Every Saturday morning since 1999, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame has offered jazz classes, available free to any resident of the state of Alabama. These classes are taught by a faculty of professionals, organized by Director of Student Jazz Programs Ray Reach and by Director of Education Emeritus Dr. Frank Adams. Collectively, the members of the faculty form a performing ensemble known as the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars (the AJHoF All-Stars). These free classes are supported by grants from the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham and other sources. In these classes, students learn to read and improvise jazz. Graduates of the AJHoF Saturday Jazz Classes have received scholarships to prestigious Jazz Studies programs, such as the ones offered by the University of New Orleans and New School University in New York City.

The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame Student All-Star Band[edit]

Directed by Ray Reach, the AJHoF Student All-Star band is a select group chosen by auditioning students from all over the Birmingham Jefferson County / Shelby County area. The group performs concerts ans events all over the Birmingham metro area. On December 19, 2010, the group opened for grammy Award winning vocal group, Take 6 at Old Car Heaven in Birmingham. (See link, below, to the AJHoF Student All-Star Band Facebook page.)

Notable Students[edit]

A number of graduates of the AJHoF Jazz Educational Program have been awarded musical scholarships. Below is a partial listing of AJHoF students who have received scholarships:

  • Jeronne Ansari - Jazz studies, University of New Orleans (The Ellis Marsalis Scholarship)
  • Sam Albright - Jazz studies, University of New Orleans (The Ellis Marsalis Scholarship)
  • Brad Fancher - Loyola University
  • Matthew Watts - University of Mississippi
  • Yirme Yisrael - Jazz studies, New School University

The "Fun With Jazz" Educational Program[edit]

The Fun With Jazz Educational Program is sponsored by AJHoF and presented, free of charge, in schools. Beginning in 2006, founder Ray Reach and a faculty of jazz professionals (the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars) have presented free one-hour lessons introducing jazz through live performance and interactive activities. The program, which was originated under the auspices of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Alys Stephens Center, includes four unique presentations.

AJHoF Annual Student Jazz Band Festival[edit]

Every year, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame sponsors a Student Jazz Festival, open to middle school, high school and college jazz bands. The festival is non-competitive, and bands are invited to play and be adjudicated by noted jazz authorities. Awards for "Band of Distinction" and "Outstanding Soloist" are made in each of the categories: Middle School, High School, Junior College and College.

Past Award Recipients at the AJHoF Student Jazz Festival

Spin-Offs from the AJHoF Educational Programs[edit]

There are a number of "spin-off" groups spawned by the educational programs at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Among these is a group called the "Neo Jazz Collective." A group of young students, enabled by the skills they learned at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, created this ensemble, with the intention of becoming a professional entity. The group is directed by Lud Yisrael. Recently, the group started their own school in Fairfield, Alabama, and is fast becoming a popular "Nu-Jazz" ensemble in the Birmingham area. (See the link below, under "External Links," to a video of the Neo Jazz Collective performing at the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival.)

Annual "Taste of 4th Avenue" Jazz Festival[edit]

During the fall of each year, the "Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival" takes place, jointly sponsored by the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Urban Impact of Birmingham.

Free Jazz Workshops, Clinics and Masterclasses[edit]

AJHoF offers free jazz workshops, clinics and masterclasses. Past guest clinicians include: Lou Marini (saxophonist), Eric Marienthal (saxophonist), Bill Goodwin (jazz drummer), T. S. Monk (drummer), Gregg Karukas (keyboardist) and many others.

Musical Instrument Recycling Program[edit]

Every year, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame accepts contributions of used, but repairable, instruments, donated by supporters of jazz in Alabama. Numerous instruments have been donated, many by famous musicians such as Lou Marini, Erskine Hawkins, Sammy Lowe and Haywood Henry. These recycled instruments are put to use by students of the AJHoF educational programs.

List of Inductees[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°31′1.57″N 86°48′45.72″W / 33.5171028°N 86.8127000°W / 33.5171028; -86.8127000