DR. BILLY TAYLOR - Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award
The distinguished ambassador of the jazz community, Dr. Billy Taylor, made his first professional appearance at the keyboard at the age of 13. It was at Virginia State University where Taylor was enrolled as sociology major, composer/pianist Undine Moore advised Taylor that his future was with music and piano. Taylor stepped up his music studies while in college, and upon graduation, he set out for New York City, the “Jazz Capital of the World.”
In New York less than a day, he found himself sitting in at Minton’s, jamming with Ben Webster, and joined the group two days later. With Art Tatum as his mentor, he soon found himself playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Don Byas and Oscar Pettiford. He was a member of the Don Redman Orchestra, the first American jazz band to visit the Continent after World War II.
Taylor launched an expansive recording career and produced more than two dozen albums. His first effort as a leader, now released on CD with Errol Garner, is called “Separate Keyboards.” Other albums are “Candido,” “My Fair Lady Loves Jazz,” “Billy Taylor at Town Hall,” “Taylor Made Jazz,” “Custom Taylored,” “Brazilian Beat,” “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free,” “Where You’ve Been,” “White Nights and Jazz in Liningrad,” “The Jazzmobile Allstars,” “Solo,” “You Tempt Me,” “Dr. T.,” “It’s a Matter of Pride,” “Homage and We Meet Again.” In 1996 he signed with New York’s Arkadia Jazz label and continued with Billy Taylor Trio.
In 1949 he published his first book, an instructional manual for be-bop piano. By that time, he had also begun to publish what was to become a body of nearly 300 songs. Taylor’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” is the anthem of Rob Reiner’s film, Ghosts of the Mississippi.
In the 1960s, Taylor decided to devote himself instead to radio and television. Taylor enjoyed great success in New York City as a performer and host, and as the musical director of the David Frost Show. Taylor produced the Billy Taylor Show and later served as musical director for Tony Brown’s Black Journal Tonight and became host of National Public Radio’s Jazz Alive and the 13 week series, Taylor Made Piano. Both won Peabody Awards. Taylor served as the arts reporter for the CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt.
His first endeavor in broadcasting aired in 1958. The 13-part series was called The Subject is Jazz and was the first history of jazz produced by the new National Educational Television Network. Taylor continued to look for ways to teach people about jazz. After serving as a visiting professor, at Howard University, the Manhattan School of Music, U.C. Irvine, North Carolina Central College, Shaw University and many other colleges and universities, and as an adjunct professor at C.W. Post, Billy earned his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. He lectures widely and gives master classes and seminars. He was founder of Jazzmobile, a unique outreach organization which brings free concerts and music clinics to thousands in the inner-city.
Beyond media, Taylor’s passion for jazz and his talents as a communicator brought him into prominence in public service circles. Dr. Taylor was appointed by the president to the National Council for the Arts, the first jazz musician since Duke Ellington to be so honored. He was the third jazz musician to receive the National Medal of the Arts. The others were Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. He has led State Department-sponsored tours to Hungary, the Middle East, and Latin America. Currently, he is adviser for jazz at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, and the presenter of an on-going series, “Mentors and Masters,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
FRANK WESS - Living Legend
Renowned saxophonist (alto and tenor) and flautist Frank Wess, though perhaps best known for his years with Count Basie, book ending those are decades of vigorous development and art. Born in Kansas City and growing up in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, Wess was taught classical music and belonged to an Oklahoma All-State High School Orchestra. Shortly thereafter, Wess moved to Washington, D.C. and oddly enough, attended the same school as a young Billy Taylor, where at lunch time they jammed in the orchestra room. That’s when he began playing jazz.
By nineteen Wess was working in the Big Bands. His career would be interrupted during World War II where he played in a 17-piece band. On returning from service he joined Billy Eckstine's orchestra.
He returned to DC a few years after this and received a degree in flute at the city's Modern School of Music. From 1953 he joined Count Basie's band, playing flute and tenor sax. He reverted to alto sax in the late '50s, and left Basie's band in 1964. From 1959 to 1964 (6 years) he won Down Beat's critic poll for flute. He did a variety of TV shows and telethons. He was a member of Clark Terry's big band from 1967 into the '70s and played in the New York Quartet with Roland Hanna. In the '80s and '90s, he worked with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, Buck Clayton, Benny Carter, Billy Taylor, Harry Edison, Mel Tormé, Ernestine Anderson, Louie Bellson, John Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Dick Hyman, Byron Stripling, Jane Jarvis, Frank Vignola and was a featured member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.
In 2007 Wess was named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and was honored at Juilliard Jazz’s Tribute to Jazz Legends in February in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. When asked about retiring, he exclaimed, "Retire to what? I’ve never done anything else in my life."
CONRAD HERWIG - Jazz Inductee
Herwig has been a featured member of the Joe Henderson Sextet, Tom Harrell’s Septet and Big Band, and the Joe Lovano’s Nonet (featured as a soloist on Lovano’s Grammy Award winning “52nd St. Themes”). He has performed and recorded with Eddie Palmieri’s “La Perfecta II” and Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet, Paquito D’Rivera’s Havana-New York Connection, the Mingus Big Band and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band among many others.
Jazz trombonist Conrad Herwig began his professional career in 1980 with the Clark Terry Big Band and later joined the Buddy Rich Orchestra for tours of the US and Europe. After locating permanently in New York, he performed with Slide Hampton’s World of Trombones and Mario Bauza’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, as well as with the orchestras of Toshiko Akiyoshi, Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer, Henry Threadgill, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones and Frank Sinatra. He has performed and recorded with Red Garland, Dave Liebman’s Sextet (Sacred Drums Concerts), Bob Stewart, Danilo Perez, David Sanchez, and many, many others. His own groups have included Randy and Mike Brecker, Dave Liebman, Richie Bierach, Stefon Harris, Bill Charlap, Tim Hagans, Ron McClure, Rufus Reid, Jack DeJohnette, Adam Nussbaum, and Jeff “Tain” Watts.
He is an alumnus of North Texas State University in Denton, Texas, near his hometown Altus, Oklahoma, (where he performed with the One O’clock Jazz Lab Band), Goddard College in Plainsfield, VT, and Queens College, New York City. Conrad has conducted master classes, seminars, and workshops at major universities and conservatories around the world including the Sibelius Academy, Finland; the Royal Iris Academy, Dublin; the University of Koln, Germany; Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY; the University of Southern California, the University of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and literally hundreds of others. He’s recognized as the leading jazz trombonist in the nation.
A recipient of performance and teaching grants from the National Endowment for the arts, he is currently Professor of Jazz Trombone, Jazz Improvisation, and Jazz Comp/Arr at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In 2006, he was elected to the Board of Advisors of the International Trombone Association for a second time in 2006.
JAMES ACE MORELAND - Blues Inductee
Ace, born in Miami, Oklahoma, in 1952, died at the age of 50. However, during that half century, Ace Moreland etched his name in the history book of blues. He was part Cherokee and all bluesman. A want-to-be-guitar player since age five, Moreland played in his first band by the time he was 12. Once he figured out enough of the guitar to know his way around the fret board, he concentrated on learning how to play slide guitar, harmonica, drums and basically whatever instruments he came across.
After an apprenticeship on the Tulsa rock-blues scene, Ace and his left-handed guitar went t to Macon, Georgia in the 70s. He hung on the fringes of the Capircorn-Allman Brother scene for three years before returning to Oklahoma, where he gigged with local heroes like the Cate Brothers. Opening slots for Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, .38 Special, George Thorogood, John Hammond, Steve Gaines, Leon Wilkerson and much of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band soon followed. Afterward, he relocated to Jacksonville, Florida with the band in 1987, and formed the Ace Moreland’s West Side Story. He signed with King Snake Records. He played with his band and another band, Midnight Creepers.
In addition to Ace playing guitars and a harmonica, he was a writer and vocalists. His 1996 CD “Keepin’ a Secret” was, by some, considered his most diverse, and it was also considered by some that Ace was “the best kept secret in the blues.” Yet, he has many CD’s his credit, “Sizzlin’ Hot,” ’90; “I’m a Damn Fool,” ’92; “I’m a Jealous Man,” ’93; “Give It to Get It,” 2000. “Hindsight is 20/20” was his last and was released in 2003, the year James Ace Moreland, Jr. died. Ace was said to have kept honing his music skills. His vocals were deep and very soulful, which Moreland said came natural to him. His voice evolved into a perfect example of the Ozark sound, not surprising, considering his Oklahoma roots. His guitar work became cleaner and more filled with soul . . . his writing became better and better.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame salutes the outstanding musical contributions of James “Ace” Moreland, Jr.
LEONA MITCHELL - International Opera and Gospel Inductee
Grammy-award winner, Leona Mitchell, emerged as one of America’s leading lyric sprinto-sopranos and has been in demand the world over for opera, concerts, recitals and television appearances. She has performed opera at prestigious houses such as: Convent Garden in London, Vienna, San Francisco, the Australian Opera, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Rome’s Caracalla, Chile, Santa Fe, the Orange Festival, Bordeaux, Detroit , Rio de Janeiro, Parma, Barcelona, to name a few. Her triumphant Alice Tully Hall recital debut-a-tribute to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was acclaimed by audience and critic alike.
She’s no stranger to some of the world’s greatest orchestras including the Philharmonics of New York, Los Angeles, and London, the London Symphony Orchestra. The highly regarded recitalist has been presented in concert at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Ambassador Auditorium, the UCLA Music Center, Japan, Hong Kong, Paris, Australia, Buenos Aires, Spain, the Los Angeles Music Center and countless others.
Born in Enid, Oklahoma, she began singing at an early age in the choir of the Antioch Baptist Church where her father, Reverend Hulon Mitchell was pastor. She received her bachelor's degree in music from Oklahoma City University; continued her graduate studies at the Julliard School of Music in New York and received honorary doctorates from Oklahoma City University and the University of Oklahoma. In 1973, she made her debut as Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen with the San Francisco Opera. She received international attention as Bess in the first complete stereo recording of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with Lorin Maasel and the Cleveland Orchestra. She’s a favorite of the Metropolitan Opera, where she performed for eighteen consecutive seasons. It was at the Metropolitan Opera that she premiered the early awaited production of Aida. She has contributed several recordings, had television appearances, and served as honorary chair of black Heritage Month of the Oklahoma legislature.
Mitchell has been quite a favorite of many videos, telecasts and television. Among her many telecasts, she boasts three videos from the Metropolitan’s “Live from Lincoln Center Series.” One with each of the “Three Tenors,” “Ernani” with Luciano Pavarotti, “Turandot” with Placido Domingo, and “Carmen” with Jose Carreras. She’s also released two CDs, one of Praise Hymns and the other, a classical album.
In 2006, she hosted the first, “Leona Mitchell Music Camp” in Enid, where underprivileged and talented youth had a chance to be a part of a dance, song, and opera experience. She was asked to join her State for the Pasadena Rose Parade in California in 2007 “Celebrating Oklahoma’s Centennial Year”.
HARMONIOUS MONK - Legacy Award
Andy (Doug) McCormick, sax; Andy Bones, drums; Nigel Frye, bass and Sean Al-Jibouri, guitar are four of Tulsa’s finest talents. Harmonious Monk was formed over four years ago and has since become a staple in the regional music scene. They are known for playing infectious instrumental jazz/funk originals. The group says Charles Mingus, Joe Henderson, D’Angelo, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker, Jaco Pastorious, Donnie Staggs, Roy Hargrove, and many, many other musicians influenced their style.
Harmonious Monk is breathing life into a new musical Frankenstein. This quartet holds roots in improvisation, jazz, funk, Latin, hip-hop, and many other elements that they have combined to brew a wonderfully unique sound. The music in itself consists of eclectic rhythmic sculptures that give support to innovative solos and infectious melodic figures. The group never fails to make every show a spiritual journey that leaves everyone with positive “monk” energy.
Harmonious Monk has performed at Cain’s Ballroom, Cherry Brook Artz Festival, Tsunami Sushi Restaurant, Tulsa Mayfest, (Tulsa); US Beer Company (Chicago); Dulcinea’s 100th Monkey (Denver), The Gunnison Brewery (Gunnison, CO) 2nd Street Brewery (Sante Fe, TX), Groovefest and the Deli (Norman, OK), Mike’s College Bar, (Stillwater), the Outland (Springfield, MO.) and at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
Their insatiable drive towards excellence in musicianship and creativity draws attention and creates an unforgettable experience. Their first album, “Harmonious Monk” was released in 2005 was recorded on the University of Tulsa campus.
JAMES O. GOODWIN, ESQ. – OKLAHOMA EAGLE NEWSPAPER
Maxine Cissel Horner Spirit of Community Excellence Award
James O. Goodwin, Esq., attorney at law and publisher of the Oklahoma Eagle Publishing Company took the reins of the Oklahoma Eagle Newspaper, Tulsa’s oldest black newspaper, years after the death of his father, E. L. Goodwin, Sr. Goodwin received his formal education at Notre Dame University and the University of Tulsa. His accomplishments and community involvements are voluminous.
Goodwin is a member of the Tulsa County Bar Association, Oklahoma Bar Association, American Inns of Court Member, Johnson-Sontag Chapter, OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees, Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Criminal Jury Instructions Committee, founding member of Community Health Foundation and a former member of the Bank of Oklahoma Board of Directors the U. S. Federal Magistrate Judge Selection Committee, State Department of Health Advisory Council and the Buck Franklin Lecture Series.
He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court, State of Oklahoma, United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, United Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Among his many law related initiatives, he was co-plaintiff against the State of Oklahoma, resulting in legislative re-appointment immediately after the Supreme Court’s declaration of one-man vote rule and initiated and was co-counsel in litigation resulting in city council form of government. He successfully challenged before the U. S. Supreme Court and Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals the constitutionality of a state statute and city ordinance regarding freedom of speech and was co-counsel with Willie Gray and Johnny Cochran, among other notables, in the matter of reparation for victims of the 1921 Race Riot.
In 2003, he received the Lifetime Excellence Award with the East Regional Health Center in Tulsa being renamed The James O. Goodwin Health Center.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame honors James O. Goodwin, Esq., for his support of and contributions to the Jazz Hall over the years, and his significant contributions to the community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Congratulations, Attorney Goodwin.
MICHAEL P. JOHNSON - WILLIAMS
Maxine Cissel Horner Spirit of Community Excellence Award
Michael Johnson was named senior vice president and chief administrative officer in May 2002. Johnson joined Williams in December 1998 as senior vice president of human resources and administration. Reporting to the chairman and CEO, he is responsible for leading all aspects of the company’s shared services units, which include information technology, human resources, corporate real estate and facilities, security, aviation and community relations. Johnson is also chairman of the Board for the Williams Foundation.
Prior to joining Williams, Johnson held officer level positions for Amoco Corporation, including vice president of human resources. He also held professional, managerial and executive positions with Martin Marietta Corporation. Johnson started as a human resources trainee with the RCA Corporation in 1969.
Johnson graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is also a graduate of the Advanced Executive Program from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.
Johnson is a director of the QuikTrip Corporation, Buffalo Wild Wings and the Oklahoma Affiliate Board of Health Care Service Corporation. His current community involvement includes serving on the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa (former chair), Board of Trustees of Bethune-Cookman College, board member of the Executive Leadership Foundation, executive board member of the Oklahoma Conference for Community and Justice and board member of the Tiger Woods Foundation.
During his tenure as OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees chair, Johnson participated as an advocate in an initiative that resulted in the passage of Vision 2025 funding, bringing more than $100 million in higher education funding to Tulsa with $30 million dedicated to OSU-Tulsa. Under his leadership as chair in 2005, OSU raised more than $10 million from private donations, providing financing for the Helmerich Advanced Technology Research Center. Johnson also played a strong role in the OSU-Tulsa’s strategic planning process, which has facilitated stronger relationships among area schools such as Langston University, Tulsa Community College and OSU.
One of Johnson’s most significant accomplishments came when he served as the founding chair of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools, spearheading the effort to merge with the former Tulsa Education Fund. As president from 2001-2004, the Foundation raised more than $4 million for direct support of schools, faculty and students. Under Johnson’s leadership, the Foundation’s work to support education helped transform the Tulsa Public School system by putting Tulsa schools on a strong pathway for success. In 2006, Tulsa Public Schools cut in half the number of schools on its “needs improvement list” from 38 to just 17 in a single year.
Johnson has previously served the community in board positions with the Metropolitan Orlando Urban League (chairman), Board of Visitors of North Carolina Central University, Tulsa Community College Foundation, Simon Estes Educational Foundation, the John Starks Foundation, the Tulsa Industrial Authority, the Orlando Aviation Authority and the Amoco Foundation.
Michael P. Johnson is a tremendous asset to the Jazz Hall and the Tulsa Community. He and his wife Libby Johnson have twice served as Gala Co-chairs of the Induction Banquet Gala. The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame congratulates Michael P. Johnson and says “Thank you Michael for believing in the Hall and supporting our efforts beyond expectations."