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John Lenwood “Jackie” McLean

March 31st in African American History – John Lenwood “Jackie” McLean

March 31, 2006 John Lenwood “Jackie” McLean, jazz alto saxophonist, composer, bandleader, and educator, died. McLean was born May 17, 1931 in New York City. During high school, he played in a band that included Kenny Drew, Sonny Rollins, and Andy Kirk, Jr. and at the age of 19 he played on Miles Davis’ “Dig” […]

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John Aaron Lewis

March 29th in African American History – John Aaron Lewis

March 29, 2001 John Aaron Lewis, jazz pianist, composer and the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet, died. Lewis was born May 3, 1920 in LaGrange, Illinois but raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He began to learn the piano and classical music at the age of seven. In 1942, he graduated from the University […]

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Sarah Lois Vaughan

March 27th in African American History – Sarah Lois Vaughan

March 27, 1924 Sarah Lois Vaughan, jazz singer known as “The Divine One,” was born in Newark, New Jersey. Vaughan began piano lessons at the age of seven and sang in the church choir. By her mid-teens, she was performing in local nightclubs. In 1942, Vaughan sang “Body and Soul” at the Apollo Amateur Night […]

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Roy David Eldridge

February 26th in African American History – Roy David Eldridge

February 26, 1989 Roy David Eldridge, jazz trumpeter, died. Eldridge was born January 30, 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He originally played drums, tuba, and trumpet. Eldridge led bands from his early years, moving to St. Louis and New York, where he played in various bands in the early 1930s. From 1941 to 1943, he played […]

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James Oscar

February 8th in African American History – James Oscar “Jimmy” Smith

February 8, 2005 James Oscar “Jimmy” Smith, jazz organist, died. Smith was born December 8, 1928 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Originally a pianist, he switched to the organ in 1953 and over his career recorded almost 100 albums, including “The Sermon” (1958), “Prayer Meetin’” (1963), “Root Down” (1972), and his last album “Black Cat/Daybreak” (2001).

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Abbey Lincoln

August 14th in African American History – Abbey Lincoln

August 14, 2010 Abbey Lincoln, jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress, died. Abbey Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge on August 6, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois. She moved to California in 1951 to perform in nightclubs. In 1956, she began her recording career with “Abbey Lincoln’s Affair: A Story of a Girl in Love.” Other recordings […]

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Harry “Sweets” Edison

July 27th in African American History – Harry “Sweets” Edison

July 27, 1999 Harry “Sweets” Edison, jazz trumpeter, composer and arranger, died. Edison was born October 10, 1915 in Columbus, Ohio. At the age of 12, he began playing the trumpet with local bands. In 1937, he moved to New York City and joined the Count Basie Orchestra where he came to prominence as a […]

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