Street Co-Naming for Bronx Jazz Great Onaje Allan Gumbs

Pianist, composer, arranger and educator Onaje Allan Gumbs To Have A Street Co-Named Onaje Allan Gumbs Way In His Honor in the Bronx, NY on Tuesday, July 5th at 4PM

The late-great jazz artist pianist/keyboardist/composer/arranger/educator Onaje Allan Gumbs (September 3, 1949 - June 6, 2021), performed in jazz, R&B, pop and smooth genres for nearly five decades, and worked with a wide range of musicians from Norman Connors and Phyliss Hyman, to Kenny Burrell and Kurtis Blow. On Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 at 4PM, a street sign co-named Onaje Allan Gumbs Way, will be erected in his honor at the intersection of De Kruif Place & Dreiser Loop located in section one in Co-op City Bronx NY, where Gumbs lived.

City Councilman Kevin C. Riley, District 12 along with the foundation will officiate the ceremony. Many guest speakers and notable musicians will be in attendance.

"The foundation is happy to announce the street co-naming of Onaje Allan Gumbs, ”
says The Onaje Allan Gumbs and Sandra Gumbs Community JazzArts Foundation, which preserves and extends Gumbs’ legacy through their arts education program, and collaborates with a number of arts-based institutions across a variety of disciplines. “We are all the better for Onaje's contribution to music. His music will live on forever, ”

Born on September 3, 1949 to Caribbean parents, Allan Bentley Gumbs moved to Queens when he was seven, and started piano lessons at that age. As a young child he was drawn to the music of Henry Mancini and the jazz great Horace Silver, listened to Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and McCoy Tyner, and played in a Latin band as a teenager that also featured the future co-founders of the Fort Apache Band, Jerry and Andy Gonzalez.

A graduate of New York’s famed LaGuardia High School Of Music & Arts and the Performing Arts, and State University of New York at Fredonia, Gumbs’ first major gig was with guitarist Kenny Burrell, and pianist/educator Billy Taylor commissioned him to write a composition for The David Frost Show, where Taylor was the Music Director. Gumbs would go on to work with other jazz stars including Woody Shaw, Nat Adderley, Betty Carter, and Lenny White. In the seventies, Gumbs added the name “Onaje, ” which he got from a book of African names by Amiri Baraka, that means “the sensitive one.” Gumbs also worked with Norman Connors and played on his hit single, “ You Are my Starship” and with Phyllis Hyman, Roy Ayers, and rapper Kurtis Blow, to name a very select few. His seven albums as a leader include, Onaje (Steeplechase, ) That Special Part of Me (Zebra/MCA), Sack Full of Dreams (18th & Vine), and Two, the Top, Featuring Nem Mahadr (Commercial Free Jazz).

Gumbs also worked as an educator at The New School in New York City, and at the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut. Regarding his status as an educator and role model, he told Down Beat’s Eric Harabadian in 2014, “It’s important to talk to students about why we do this … Our mission is to heal.”
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