Sep 07, 2012 - Tulsa Jazzfest Benefit Scheduled September 14-16


           At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 14, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is set to launch the 2012 edition of Jazzfest, the annual live-music festival that lasts through Sunday, Sept. 16 this year to benefit the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and kick off a membership drive.

            “The Jazz Hall of Fame plays a key role in our community, especially for music education, that is why I am a member and active in my support of such an incredible institution,” says Councilor Jack Henderson. “It is amazing all that the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame does for Oklahomans. In fact if you want to become a member, go to “ISupportTheJazzHall.Com or call Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609.”

            “As a lifelong educator I became a member of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame because of all they do for music education and their singular drive in making sure music education receives the necessary focus to make sure our children today develop their full potential for tomorrow” say Deborah Brown.

            “It’s our yearly celebration of Oklahoma music – jazz, blues, and gospel,” says Jeff Kos, Jazz Hall Chairman. “We’ll have dozens of performers over the three days, with stages both inside and outside the Jazz Depot all here to support the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. We’ll have our recent inductee, Dorothy Ellis, Miss Blues, perform for us again. She puts on an incredible show, and people have been clamoring for her to return.

            “We’ll end with legendary jazz master Candido; he’s 91 years old and still going strong. An incredible role model for all of us.”

            So is Dorothy Ellis, who began singing at a very young age, after hearing her mother sing “Driftin’ Blues” for a group of traveling musicologists in the late ‘30s. “I love the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and all they do for music in Oklahoma schools”, says Dorothey Ellis.

            “They were going around the Southern states, looking for people to record,” she recalls. “I remember they made a red record of her singing and gave it to her. I was three or four, and I heard her and copied off of her, as children will do.

            “I’m one of your singers who did not come out of the church,” she adds. “I started out doing blues, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

            She grew up alongside her mother, picking cotton in the Texas fields. It was, in fact, her mothers’ fellow pickers that gave Ellis her start as a singer.

            “We were out on the Goss Farm around Direct, Texas,” she says. “It was like a plantation, with little cabins and all that stuff. Mr.Earl Shamblee had a juke joint there for the black people. Kids could go there, too. There never was any trouble: they weren’t doing anything but drinking what they called cat whiskey – white lightning.” She laughs. “They’d always put me up there to sing. That’s the first time I got money for my singing. They put their pennies and nickels and dimes together, and I got $2.50.

            “Then, tragedy struck me. My mother died. I was ‘round about 10.”

            A preteen Ellis managed to make enough money to buy a bus ticket to Oklahoma City – which, she says, was as far away as she could get for the money she had. Luckily, she was taken in by the Brockaway Home for Girls, which provided a residence for her while she continued singing, performing regularly in Oklahoma City’s famous Deep Deuce area.

            In the ‘50s, Ellis and her band the Rocking Aces gave a young musician named D.C. Minner his start. Minner, of course, went on to national fame as a guitarist and bassist -- creating, with his wife, Selby, the annual Dusk Till Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, which features Ellis every year.

            “When D.C. started Dusk Till Dawn, he was my bassman,” she says. “He invited me down, and that’s one reason I keep coming back.”

            She has also performed nationally and internationally, and credits the Wyoming-based blues band Blinddog Smokin’ with helping get her career to the next level.

            “I was at Dusk Till Dawn one year in the ‘90s and these four guys came up and asked if I had a CD,” she explained. “I said, `CD? I had one of those reel-to-reel tapes, but somebody stole it.’

            “They were Blind Dog Smokin’. And later on down the line, they called me and said if I could come to Laramie, Wyoming, they’d cut a CD on me.”

            With the help of a friend, she did, which led to her first disc, 2001’s Sittin’ in With Blinddog Smokin’.

            “My success,” she says, “came when Blinddog Smokin’ believed in me and cut my CD.”

            Ellis was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011.

            Born in Cuba in 1921, Candido de Guerra Camero made his way to New York in 1952, where he began playing as a percussionist with bebop pioneer Dizzy Gillespie. In addition to recording and leading bands as a headliner, Candido has worked with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Elvin Jones, and Art Blakey. In 2008, the National Endowment for the Arts named him a Jazz Master.

            “I have no words to express how proud I am,” he said at the time. “I feel very humble to receive this recognition. It is as seeing an impossible dream come true. I thank the NEA and the United States of America.”

            In an interview that same year with the NEA’s Molly Murphy, he recalled how he began his musical career by playing two empty condensed milk cans, on which an uncle had “put on skin like a regular bongo.”

            He was four years old then. Twenty-five years later, he would travel to New York with a Cuban dance team, and from there to the band led by Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame Inductee, pianist Billy Taylor, who said, “I have not heard anyone who even approaches the wonderful balance between jazz and Cuban elements that Candido demonstrates.”

            Candido has also been awarded the Latin Jazz USA Lifetime Achievement Award as well as a Special Achievement Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) as a “Legend of Jazz.”


The Big Jazz Weekend will feature the following:

Friday is GUMBO night with proceeds benefitting the Jazz Hall of Fame.

Friday night INSIDE stage: $5 cover

5:30-7p Annie Ellicott

8p-10p Dean Demerritt and the Jazz Tribe

10:30p-12a Mike Cameron w/ Olivia Duhon


Friday OUTSIDE stage: no cover!

  7p-8:30p Jambalaya Jass Band

  9p-10:30p Gogo Plumbay

  11p-12:30a Travis Fite


Saturday is BBQ day with proceeds to benefit the Jazz Hall of Fame

Saturday INSIDE Stage: cover is $5

2pm  Edison H.S. Jazz Ensemble

5:30p-7p  Cynthia Simmons and Pam Crosby

  8p-10:30p  the Jeff Shadley Big Band


  Saturday OUTSIDE Stage:

   2pm  Washington H.S. Jazz Band

   3p-4p  7Blue

   4:30-5:30  Grupo Salsabor

   6p-7:30p Tommy Poole

   8p-9:30p Little Joe w/ Jr. Markham

   10p-12a  Ms. Blues


Sunday is all inside the Jazz Hall of Fame.  Sunday concert ticket prices

apply.  $15 for general seating, $20 reserved.

5pm-6pm Tim Shadley Latin Jazz Project

6p-8p Headliner Candido Camero!               


For more information on Jazzfest, contact Bettie Downing at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, 918-281-8609 or visit the website