Group History

Few cities in America enjoyed as vibrant a jazz scene in the middle part of the 20th century as Newark, NJ.

Jazz was everywhere from the '40s through the '60s and into the '70s -- in the clubs, in the corner bars and taverns, in the schools, in the theaters.

As Newark jazz historian Stan Myers recalls: "You really had your pick of what you wanted to listen to. If you didn't like the music in one place, you just kept going down the street until you heard something you did like and walked in."

If that weren't enough, the greatest TV jazz program of them all -- "Art Ford's Jazz Party" -- was broadcast from a studio in Newark on Thursday nights.

From this fertile scene emerged some of the most celebrated musicians in jazz history, including Sarah Vaughan, James Moody, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Woody Shaw, Larry Young, Eddie Gladden and Grachan Moncur III.

While the golden age of jazz in Newark is long gone, a number of local musicians who were a part of that scene are still alive and performing as well as ever.

These are artists who grew up in Newark, came of age on the Newark jazz circuit  or made Newark their home after their careers were under way --- musicans like Leo Johnson, Joe Thomas, Buddy Terry, Gloria Coleman and Alfred Patterson.

Some fronted their own groups, and more than one went on the road to play with the biggest touring bands of the day.

The Newark Jazz Elders is a collective of these musicians.

In a very real sense, they are to Newark what the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is to New Orleans. And they do what the Preservation Hall group does so well and with such zest -- integrate a glorious and deep-rooted tradition with new ideas and fresh sounds.

Audiences respond to the Newark Jazz Elders with an equal measure of enthusiasm. Their shows have become more than concerts; they are communal events, not unlike a homecoming.

Longstanding fans come out to see old friends and listen to familiar musicians; parents bring their children for a first-hand experience of what jazz was like in its heyday, and the purists show up to listen to great music.

Please join in supporting the Newark Jazz Elders, the group that Gov. Jon Corzine proclaimed
New Jersey's "living legends jazz band" in 2007. They are truly keeping the tradition alive.

Guy Sterling
2007 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award winner


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