Dizzy Gillespie was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser. In the 1940s Gillespie became a major figure in the development of Bebop and Modern Jazz.
Of course "Satchmo" would have to be included in my Jazz exhibition. He was a trumpeter, composer, singer and occasional actor who was one of the most influential figures in jazz
Ray Charles' true gift was his ability to give gospel styled sounds a secular sound, This image is special to me because it is a rare glimpse of Ray without his glasses.
Of all the musicians I have chosen to include in my "Textures of Jazz - Threads of Change" exhibition, no other's music reflects the times like Nina's. She was a singer, songwriter, arranger and activist in the Civil Rights Movement.
I consider Nina Simone a must have as her significant up-to-the-moment lyrics tell stories of sadness and triumph important to our time.
This Nina Simone was specifically stitched to be auctioned at the Theatrical Outfit Gala after the closing of my "Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change" exhibition at The Balzer Theater in Atlanta, GA in April 2017.
Dave Brubeck emphasized unusual time signatures and made jazz music hip for young adults and college students at a time when Rock and Roll began to dominate the musical landscape.
Along with the great Sun Ra, Hawkins was a Birmingham AL born jazz trumpeter and highlighting musicians from my area is important to me.
I chose Ellis Marsalis Jr. because he was one of the few New Orleans musicians who did not specialize in Dixieland or rhythm and blues. He has become one of the most respected pianists in jazz music.
I was drawn to Roy Eldridge because of his naturally romantic sound. He was the most influential trumpeter between Armstrong and Gillespie, both of whom he was a major influence. His best solos were full of passion and beautifully crafted.
Wynton Marsalis makes the argument that Jazz, which he considers "America's greatest artistic contribution to the world" is rooted in the black experience of America and therefore inseparable from the fundamental American narrative of racial conflict and struggle.
Charles Mingus was a controversial and gifted composer and bassist. I was pulled in by his 1959 album, "Mingus Ah Um" which contains a damning rebuke of the Arkansas governor Orval Farbus' treatment of the Little Rock Nine.
While Hawkins is strongly associated with the Swing and Big Band Era, he had a hefty role in the development of Bebop in the 1940s by supporting lesser known artists like Thelonious Monk. His crowning achievement was his 3- minute recording of "Body and Soul".
I came to Duke Ellington because he did it all, Composer, pianist and bandleader. Ellington preferred to call his music, American music, rather than Jazz but he was decidedly one of the most influential figures in Jazz, if not all American music.
Though not true, Jelly Roll spent the entirety of his life trying to convince everyone that he invented Jazz. That said, by blending the styles of Ragtime, Minstrelsy and dance rhythms, he was on the forefront of a movement that would soon become known as Jazz.
Ethel Waters performed jazz, big band, pop music and had great success on the Broadway stage. She left home at thirteen and began her career in the 1920's singing the blues.