Jazzanooga Unveils MLK Boulevard Banner Project

Celebrating Chattanooga-Born Jazz Legends

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The team behind Jazzanooga, Chattanooga’s Jazz Festival, unveiled Wednesday the MLK Boulevard Banner Project. The project celebrates noteworthy jazz musicians born in Chattanooga who have gone on to share their musical gifts with the world. Banners are placed at each intersection along MLK Boulevard, from Central Avenue to Lindsay Street.

"Ever since I left Chattanooga to pursue my goals as a musician and composer, I've wanted to return to perform with my own group for the community that nurtured and supported those dreams,” expressed musician, Mark Taylor, whose image is on one of the MLK Blvd. banners. “I am honored and humbled by my inclusion alongside personal heroes like Yusef Lateef in the Jazzanooga banners project. How exciting it is to see a new jazz festival growing right in my own home town." 

The 2014 banners honor the contributions of Chattanooga born musicians:

Lovie Austin was an American Chicago bandleader, session musician, composer, and arranger during the 1920s classic blues era. She and Lil Hardin Armstrong are often ranked as two of the best female jazz blues piano players of the period. Mary Lou Williams cited Austin as her greatest influence. 

Yusef Abdul Lateef was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and educator. Although Lateef's main instruments were the tenor saxophone and flute, he also played oboe and bassoon, both rare in jazz, and also used a number of non-western instruments. He is known for having been an innovator in the blending of jazz with "Eastern" music. Lateef was honored in 1982 as a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Master.

Wilfred Middlebrooks was a double bassist who performed with many legendary 20th Century Jazz Musicians, such as Eric Dolphy, Frank Rosolino, Plas Johnson and Bill Holman. Middlebrooks played on Ella Fitzgerald’s heralded album Ella In Berlin, which went on to win the vocalist a Grammy Award for the song Mack the Knife. 

Ishmael Reedis an American poet, essayist, songwriter, playwright, and novelist. Reed’s texts and lyrics have been performed, composed or set to music by Albert Ayler, David Murray, Allen Toussaint, Carman Moore, TajMahal, Olu Dara, Lester Bowie, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Ravi Coltrane, Leo Nocentelli, Eddie Harris, Anthony Cox, Don Pullen, Billy Bang, Bobby Womack, Milton Cardonna, Omar Sosa, Fernando Saunders, Yosvanni Terry, Jack Bruce, Little Jimmy Scott, Robert Jason, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Cassandra Wilson, Gregory Porter and others.

Valaida Snow was raised on the road in a show-business family, she learned to play cello, bass, banjo, violin, mandolin, harp, accordion, clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone at professional levels by the time she was 15. She also sang and danced.After focusing on the trumpet, she quickly became so famous at the instrument that she was named "Little Louis" after Louis Armstrong, who used to call her the world's second best jazz trumpet player besides himself. 

Mark Tayloris a member of the "next generation" of jazz hornists. After graduate studies with Dave Holland and George Russell at New England Conservatory in Boston, Mark moved to New York where he has performed and recorded with an array of modern jazz giants and released three CDs as a leader. Mark has worked with jazz legend Max Roach as a featured soloist and critically acclaimed cutting-edge composers Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams and Anthony Braxton, among others. He has performed in jazz clubs, festivals and concert halls from Finland to Syria and was a featured performer at the very first Julius Watkins Jazz Horn Festival at New York City's Knitting Factory.

Scheduled during Jazz Appreciation Month, April,Jazzanooga draws fans from all across the region for a month of intimate performances, educational opportunities and good times. Jazzanooga 2014 features a lineup of today’s jazz performers including recent Grammy winners Lalah Hathaway and Gregory Porter. But, the joy of Jazzanooga is in celebrating Chattanooga’s local music scene, said officials. The festival serves as a platform for local musicians, artists and creatives to share their talents with Chattanooga. An aspect of this year’s festival is the Big Nine Jazz Series, a week of jazz education, visual art and local music at various MLK Boulevard venues. The Big Nine Jazz Series culminates in a full day of family friendly music activities on April 26.

Jazzanooga, started in 2010 as a one-day community festival and has grown to a month-long celebration that honors and promotes Chattanooga’s jazz heritage. The festival is supported by the Benwood Foundation and the Lyndhurst Foundation. Double Cola has contributed a generous in-kind donation. For a full schedule and ticketing information, visit www.jazzanooga.org.


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