20 U.S. Communities celebrate 26 "Jazz Heroes" Announced by Jazz Journalists Association

More than two dozen "Jazz Heroes" - people exerting unusual positive musical influence on their communities, whether they're musicians or not – are to be celebrated in 20 U.S. locales throughout April, Jazz Appreciation Month, as announced by the Jazz Journalists Association, a non-profit organization of media professionals in collaboration with diverse jazz grassroots groups, institutions and supporters.

The complete list of Jazz Heroes, with their portraits, detailed bios and Awards celebration information, is at the JJA Jazz Heroes webpage.

From Atlanta to Washington State, Minnesota's Twin Cities to New Orleans, the San Francisco Bay Area to Brooklyn, individuals identified locally as "activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz" and further certified by a JJA process launched in 2001 will receive engraved statuettes at public presentations, often accompanied by official proclamations from municipal and/or state officials.

This year's roster includes Jazz Heroes of immigrant backgrounds and descent – San Diego trumpeter-band director-mentor Gilbert Castellanos, for instance, and Asian Improv aRts co-founders Jon Jang and Francis Wong – as well as women who are changing the sound of jazz (Chicago's improvising cellist Tomeka Reid), documenting it (photographer/historian Andrea Canter of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Judith Korey of the Felix Grant Jazz Archives) and sustaining its humanitarian legacy (Fran Morris Rosman of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation). Tallahassee hero Adam Gaffney teaches jazz appreciation from his special perspective as a blind listener. There are veteran presenters such as Jack Kleinsinger (producing Highlights in Jazz in Manhattan for 45 years), Marty Ashby (30-year executive producer of MCG Jazz, Pittsburgh), Viola Plummer (22 years running Sistas' Place in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood), Sam Yi (formerly of Churchill Downs, Atlanta) and Jason Patterson of New Orleans' Snug Harbor. Also entrepreneurial musicians including pianists Wayne Horvitz (Seattle) and Darrell Grant (Portland, OR), and broadcasters and journalists (Lew Shaw, W. Kim Heron, J. Michael Harrison and Richard Henderson). All work to advance jazz beyond requirements or duties of their employment.

Organizations collaborating on Jazz Hero events this year include the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia), the Mason Tavern (Atlanta), Jazz in the Neighborhood (San Francisco), Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago), B Sharps Jazz Café (Tallahassee), Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar (St. Paul), Black Dog Coffee and WIne Bar (St. Paul), Portland PDX Jazz Festival, the Arizona Classic Jazz Society, the International Jazz Day AZ Foundation and the Calvin Jones Big Band Festival at University of District of Columbia.

Sponsors of the Jazz Heroes initiative and the subsequent 21st annual JJA Jazz Awards include the Jazz Foundation of America, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, Century Media Partners, Sunnyside Records, Scott Thompson Public Relations, High Note/Savant Records, Motéma Music, Braithwaite & Katz Communications, Thirsty Ear Records, Jazz Promo Services and the Tucson Jazz Festival.

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