Calvin Jones (musician)
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Calvin James Jones, Sr. (September 27, 1929 – October 10, 2004) was an American trombonist, bassist, pianist, bandleader, composer and educator. Born in Chicago, Illinois, raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Jones moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1970s where he remained until his death from a heart attack in October 2004. He was Professor of Music at the University of the District of Columbia and served as director of the UDC Jazz Studies Program from 1976 until his sudden death in October 2004.
Under his direction the UDC Jazz Studies Program developed into producing premier collegiate jazz ensembles that are recognized throughout the Washington, D.C. community. The University's big band, the UDC Jazz Ensemble, has firmly established its reputation at the Calvin Jones BIG BAND Jazz Festival, renamed in 2005 in memory of Jones. Produced by the UDC Jazz Studies Program and the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives, the annual festival began in 1987 as part of a citywide tribute to Duke Ellington.
Prior to coming to the university, Jones taught instrumental music in the District of Columbia Public School DCPS system for over ten years. His creative approach to teaching and his commitment to methods that nurtured an understanding and appreciation of jazz, well before it was considered mainstream, served as a model for generations of musicians and educators. Many of his students have gone on to become internationally recognized jazz artists.
As a composer/arranger, Jones produced an extensive selection of works. He performed as musical director and composer/arranger for Remembering U Street at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C. (May 2003), and conducted the Blues Alley Big Band in a program devoted to the Calvin Jones Library.
A trombonist of national recognition, he performed at the Wolf Trap Jazz Festival, the Beale Street Jazz Festival, with the Howard University Jazz Repertory Orchestra Performing the Music of the Legendary Billy Eckstine Orchestra, and at A Jazz Salute to Lionel Hampton - A Tribute to Eubie Blake. He was a member of the orchestra at the Howard Theatre and the original Ray Charles Big Band and performed regularly with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The Smithsonian Movement in Classic Jazz (SMCJS) led by Jones, appeared on programs produced by The Program in African American Culture at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
He performed with the orchestras of touring stage productions at all the major theatres in Washington, D.C. He was the first African-American to play in both the orchestra at the National Theatre and the Washington Redskins Professional Band, after the merger of the formerly segregated local offices of the American Federation of Musicians. Although most audiences knew him as a trombonist, he was also a distinguished pianist and an accomplished bassist.
He graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville (1953) where he was an original member of the Tennessee State Collegians Jazz Orchestra. After serving in the United States Army as a member of the 75th Army Band, he decided to remain in the Washington, D.C. area. He later continued graduate studies at Howard University, Washington, D.C. where he received a Master of Arts degree in Music Education (1970).
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