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Who are your unsung heroes of Jazz?????

I posted this on SOTW, and it went over like the proverbial lead balloon, so I thought I'd make sure to bore everybody with it.

I love hearing stories about the "behind the scenes" people who made the history of jazz and blues possible.

I'll start with one:

Mike Leadbitter and Quint Davis. Everyone in New Orleans probably knows Davis as the organizer of the N.O. Jazz & Heritage Fest, but the real story for me is that Davis (along with journalist Mike Leadbitter) saved Roy Byrd's (aka Professor Longhair) life and resurrected his career in the 1970s. Byrd was basically on the verge of death when he was "discovered" by Leadbitter--who went looking for him. And, working as Byrd's promoter, Davis brought him back to life--literally and musically--by getting him into music festivals then into the recording studio. As a result, rather than dying alone in some alley, not only was Byrd able to produce some of the greatest blues recordings of all time, but we also got Tipitina's, one of America's great live venues.

I love this music [i.e. Fess' recordings in the 70s] so much, and I think it's pretty amazing that it would never have happened without Leadbitter and Davis.

This is not a sax story especially, but if you know Fess' music, you know just how much he did to revitalize horn drenched blues with guys like Jim Moore, Tony Dagradi, and Andy Kaslow in his band.

So...who are your unsung heroes???



Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
Wow, great story, Rory. I really can't add anything to that. Seems most of the promotors and management people I know are working that story from the opposite angle today....trying to kill the artist, not bring him back to life.

Warren Oree is doing good work in Philly with the West Oak Lane jazz fest. Warren's a very good bassist who uses his production company, Lifeline Music to keep Philly based musicians working.

And in New York City my friend Carol Sherick did pretty much the same deal with Illinois Jacquet that the two guys in NO did with Professor Longhair. She got his life back on the one and put his horn back in his hand. She helped him form his big band and reestablish himself as one of the prime forces. Carol's working to establish the Illinois Jacquet Theater and Performance Space in Queens NY. Once established, this will further the careers, and provide gigs for many NYC based musicians.

And I have to mention my hometown buddy Suzanne Cloud. Suzanne is a former nurse who had a career as a singer in the Philly area for many years. Events in her life inspired her to revert back to her caring for people roots and she established the Jazz Bridge, a non profit organization which exists to help sick, elderly, and down on their luck Philly based jazz performers. If you go to her website, www.jazzbridge.org you can see what she's up to right now.

It's always good to see that people in the music business do care, and that performers do have some kind of safety net, even though it's a small one.

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