Conversations in Jazz #1 will feature people deeply involved in the Chicago jazz world. They will share their personal stories, tales of the musician’s life on the road, and stories of Southside Chicago jazz clubs. Panelists are trumpeter ART HOYLE, pianist JOHN WRIGHT, and Hyde Park Jazz Society President, CHARLIE THOMAS. Receiving his first trumpet at the age of 8, ART was playing professionally at 15 in and around Gary, Indiana. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force Bands, he joined the Sun Ra Arkestra and appeared on several of that band’s important early recordings. From 1957-60 he toured North America and Europe with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra before settling back in Chicago as a member of the CBS Staff Orchestra. A vital and familiar presence on Chicago stages, Art has been a featured soloist with vocalists Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, and Joe Williams, and has played in bands led by Louie Bellson, Quincy Jones, and Henry Mancini. An indefatigable spirit, Art continues to perform at Festivals and clubs in Gary and Chicago and has been a featured trumpeter with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. JOHN has played piano and set the standard for trios in Chicago for nearly 50 years. His style is both majestic and blues-drenched, with a big sound that resonates in a room filled with “Poppy” Wright lovers. There is little doubt that his earlier recordings on Prestige influenced many Chicago pianists to “cross over”—merging more blues into standards and jazz—and shape the “Chicago school” piano trio sound. Even after losing his sight, John continued to perform until recently. CHARLIE has been a jazz fan, record collector, and student of bebop since his early high school days when he started listening to his cousin’s records. “Those were early bebop days . . . [and] bebop was my choice. Miles (Davis), Max (Roach) and (Charles) Mingus, those were the guys, [and] I pursued their records, their music when they were in town . . . . I can remember vividly where I first saw anybody. One that was outstanding was at McKie Fitzhugh’s place (on 63rd Street). I saw Dexter Gordon. I was amazed how tall he was. . . [and] the first time seeing Charlie Parker in person was at the Bee Hive . . . in Hyde Park on 55th Street. That memory and that mystique is one of the driving forces of why we do what we do now with the Hyde Park Jazz Society, because there was a lot of jazz in Hyde Park at the time.”
The Conversation will be moderated by RAHSAAN CLARK MORRIS, jazz aficionado and freelance jazz writer for the JazzGram (Jazz Institute of Chicago), the Great Black Music Project, and other jazz publications. Sponsored by the Hyde Park Jazz Society.