Dr. Mary Umolu Jazzy Jazz Fest pays tribute to Max Roach

Founded in 1996 by the late Dr. Mary Umolu, the Medgar Evers College Jazzy Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Department of Mass Communications, Creative and Performing Arts and Speech, is celebrating its 20th year of free concerts to the Crown Heights and surrounding communities.

Every year members of the community have made this festival into a Brooklyn summer tradition. Hence, the festival has become the stage for a series of exceptional musicians who engage and share their talents with local residents.

Medgar Evers College’s 2016 Summer Jazzy Jazz Festival will be held on eight Friday evenings began on July 8 and ends Aug. 26 in front of the College’s Academic Complex building at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Crown Street. The program is from 7 pm to 10 pm. Seating is on a first come basis. This event is free to the public.

The Dr. Mary Umolu Jazzy Jazz Festival will pay tribute to the great jazz drummer the late Max Roach, an honoree doctorate recipient from Medgar Evers College. A native of Bet-Study Brooklyn, by the time he was 18 years old, Max was in the avant-garde movement of change with such persons as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and under the influence of Kenny Clarke. Later he interfaced with the progressive-minded Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter and a brief stint with Duke Ellington. In his quest to move the art form of jazz forward, Roach used cymbals as gongs and played mesmerizing solos on the tom-toms, creating and atmosphere rarely experienced before in jazz. He propelled jazz to new levels.

Above all though, Roach ought to be admired for never being curtailed by the idea of non- acceptancy because of his social and political consciousness, which made him a rarity among jazz musicians.

This year’s lineup of performers include: Steve Cromity and friends; Roman Mitchell and MEC Jazz Ensemble; George Gray Jazz Quartet; Brandee Younger, harpist; Patience Higgins Sugar Hill Quartet; Mark Whitfield & Sons; TK Blue, jazz saxophone; and Pantastic Steel Orchestra.

About the Jazzy Jazz Festival

Originally created as the Jazzy Jazz Festival, the festival has been renamed the Dr. Mary Umolu Jazzy Jazz Festival in honor of the late Dr. Mary Umolu, professor and chair of the department of Mass Communications, Creative and Performing Arts and Speech at Medgar Evers College. Dr. Umolu was committed to educating a new generation about the history of the only uniquely American art form created in the 20th century — Jazz — thus ensuring that the entire community heard the music.

“The department is carrying forth the legacy and goal of this extraordinary educational and cultural program. Attendees can relax in style to the rhythms of Jazz in the cool and friendly outdoors. We do not envision Jazzy Jazz as simply a summer concert event. This festival and its performers will become embedded in the educational life of the community,” states Dr. Crawford, current chair of the department.

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