|A conversation with MAA Executive Director Theresa Colvin|
Tell us a little about the history of the Living Legacy Jazz Award.
The Living Legacy Jazz Award was created in 1994 as a way to honor living jazz masters in Mid Atlantic Arts’ nine state region. The Award has always focused on contributing to the perpetuation of the jazz legacy and education with an emphasis on passing skills and knowledge to the next generation of musicians. The first awardee was trumpeter Clark Terry and 28 stellar artists have joined him since – including our 2022 awardee, Roger Humphries.
Who have some of the recipients been across the years?
Well, as I mentioned, Clark Terry was the first awardee and the list is long after him! Legacy honorees with a Pennsylvania connection have included Kenny Barron, Nathan Davis, Jimmy Heath, Roger Humphries, Odean Pope, Shirley Scott, and Reggie Workman. You can visit the Mid Atlantic Art’s website for a full listing of previous awardees.
For many years, this event was held at the Kennedy Center in DC. In 2019, it moved to the Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia. Can you tell us a little about that?
Sure – we had almost 25 years in partnership with the Kennedy Center and they were just wonderful. They worked with us in partnership to present either a previous Legacy Awardee or someone working in the same musical tradition the same night as the Award event. Dr. Billy Taylor frequently joined us for the event along with KC jazz staff. It was a very comfortable and successful partnership.
As we approached the 25th anniversary of the Award in 2019, Mid Atlantic Arts’ board and staff began discussing a possible move to a new venue—perhaps in Philadelphia—a city steeped in jazz history. We discussed this with the Kennedy Center and they, too, agreed that his was a good time for a move. The Kimmel Cultural Campus has been hugely welcoming and has been a partner from day one. We knew we wanted the same type of partnership and were able to bring 2018 awardee Toshiko Akiyoshi onstage to play with Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation Band at the 2019 event—our first with the Kimmel Center. This year, Roger Humphries will play with Jazzmeia Horn following the Award event—what a treat!
We will host our two-day fall board meeting at the Kimmel Cultural Campus in conjunction with the event and are sponsoring the Jazz Philadelphia Summit as well. These types of partnerships lead to more opportunities for everyone—organizations and communities included.
I understand the Anniversary years of the Award – 15, 20, 25 – are a big deal. Can you tell us a little more about that?
I always think of the photo “A Great Day in Harlem” by Art Kane when an anniversary year rolls around. We invite all of the former awardees back for two days or activities before we celebrate the new Awardee on the second night. Picture that hotel bar! It is amazing—a jazz lover’s paradise. We normally book a tour or take previous awardees to a panel at a local music school. We all have dinner together and then the next night gather for a grand party. It is wonderful and, as time passes, a little bittersweet. We have lost a number of our honoree cohort over the years—but always remember them when we gather. Our next anniversary year is right around the corner in 2024.
The 2022 Living Legacy Jazz Award Presented by PECO is coming up on October 28th. What can guests expect?
An amazing night of jazz and fun! We kick off the evening at 5:30 in the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Hamilton Garden with a reception—food and drinks—and the Award ceremony. A local youth jazz ensemble will play the event. We will recognize Mr. Humphries and have a little more food and drink—dessert!—and head over to Verizon Hall at 7:30pm. At 8 p.m. guests will be treated to a performance with Jazzmeia Horn with a special appearance by Roger Humphries! And when that ends—if you still need more jazz—you can head downstairs to the Kimmel Center Plaza for the Jaz Philadelphia Summit’s Hometown Jazz Jam! What a great night! Tickets are $150 and include the reception with food and drinks, the Award ceremony, and Jazzmeia Horn show!