JJA Salutes 33 Jazz Heroes


A photo collage of this year’s JJA Jazz Heroes.

(Photo: Courtesy JJA)

The Jazz Journalists Association has announced its 2024 class of Jazz Heroes, which includes 33 activists and advocates in 29 locales across the United States, Canada and Baja California (Mexico). The JJA’s special recognition of these behind-the-scenes influencers during Jazz Appreciation Month demonstrates the passion for the art form that exists among listeners and supporters across North America.

See the complete list of this year’s Jazz Heroes by CLICKING HERE.

Community-focused musicians, presenters, philanthropists, club and venue operators, organizers, educators and historians of jazz scenes in Detroit, Indianapolis and Portland, Oregon — these Jazz Heroes go beyond their job titles on behalf of spreading the sound, art and values of jazz. Each one rates a personality profile, including:

• Charlton Singleton and Quentin Baxter of Charleston, South Carolina, core members the Grammy-winning band Ranky Tanky, updating unique Lowcountry Gullah culture.

• Marla Gibbs, who played the maid Florence on the TV show The Jeffersons, used her television earnings to support African-American culture in Los Angeles’ Watts and Leimert Park neighborhoods.

• Ivan Trujillo creates music and musical opportunities across the Mexico–U.S. border, emphasizing a regional binational identity, with creativity uppermost.

• Eugene Uman and Elsa Borrero, the Vermont forester and Colombian dance student who inherited Hungarian guitarist Atilla Zoller’s Vermont Jazz Center.

• Ann Tappan, an improvising pianist and now private teacher, touring to Prague from her home in Manhattan, Montana, outside of Bozeman.

Other 2024 Jazz Heroes include Carlos Lando of Denver radio KUVO; Katea Stitt (daughter of Sonny Stitt), program director of the District of Columbia’s WPFW; David Leander Williams, historian of Indiana Avenue, Indianapolis; Lois Masteller, who runs The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head Island; and Catherine O’Grady, retiring director of the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Jazz Heroes are named in Akron, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Boston, Brooklyn, Charleston, Chicago, Harlem, Kansas City, New Orleans, Newark, New York’s Capital Region and Tucson.

Nominated by members of their own local communities, the Jazz Heroes are celebrated by the JJA with biographical texts and photo portraits at JJAJazzAwards.org as well as a photo collage designed for social media distribution. Presentations of personalized Jazz Hero certificates are being organized, and will be announced.

The JJA’s Jazz Heroes campaign is stage one of the JJA’s 29th annual Jazz Awards rollout. Members of the JJA, a 501 (c) 3 organization for writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers and new media professionals covering jazz, nominate and vote for winners in 40-some categories of excellence in jazz and jazz journalism.

Nominees for the 29th annual JJA Jazz Awards will be announced on April 23; winners will be announced May 8. DB

  • 0c3c86_2fd4930d4a61477c8516238ae334ebb5~mv2_d_2000_1335_s_2_copy.jpeg

    Jim Rotondi was acclaimed for his wide, round trumpet tone, remarkable virtuosity and assured swing.

  • DB24_Charles_Lloyd_by_Douglas_Mason_at_New_Orleans_Jazz_Fest.jpg

    Charles Lloyd, seen here at the 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, makes DownBeat Poll history!

  • DonWas_A1100547_byMyriamSantos_copy.jpg

    “Being president of Blue Note has been one of the coolest things that ever happened to me,” Was said. “It’s a gas to serve as one of the caretakers of that legacy.”

  • Century_Room_by_Travis_Jensen.jpg

    ​The Century Room in downtown Tucson, Arizona, was born in 2021.

  • Cecile_McLorin_Salvant_Ashley_Kahn_bu_David_Morresi_copy.jpg

    ​“She reminds me of my childhood and makes we want to cry,” Cécile McLorin Salvant, pictured here with writer Ashley Kahn, said of Dianne Reeves.

On Sale Now
August 2024
72nd Annual Critics Poll
Look Inside
Print | Digital | iPad