Dr. Larry Ridley was one of four jazz musicians honored at the 18th Annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s (CBJC) Hall of Fame Awards Night last week.
The event recognized the contributions made by jazz artists born or reared in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. This year’s inductees in addition to Dr. Ridley, included Jasmine Morris, Kim Clarke, and posthumously to artist-teacher Henry Mattathias Pearson.
Professor Dr. Larry Ridley’s background is extensive. Upon arriving in Brooklyn from hometown Indianapolis in 1959, he shortly joined the American Federation of Musicians Local 802. His lifetime achievements to Brooklyn’s jazz community goes beyond his musical contributions.
He, is and was a soldier in the front lines for quality of life issues for his fellow artisans; for recognizing this art form, not only as American, but African-American created original art form. Ridley served as chairman of the Jazz Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) where he advanced the cause to recognize Black musicians.
The international concerts, night clubs, radio, television and
recordings included collaboration with artists from A to Z: Ernestine Anderson to Attila Zeller, interspersed with Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Jimmy Smith, Joe Williams and more. Larry Ridley’s doctorate of performing arts, his membership on Congressman John Conyers Caucus on Jazz issues and his
implementation for jazz performance to the Rutgers University curriculum, highlight his esteemed career.
The late Henry Mattathias Pearson spent his last years teaching at Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn, It preceded a devoted spiritual journey of MUSIC, one in which he became proficient on various instruments, i.e., bass, vibraphone, piano, flute, violin and trombone.
As a teenager mastering the vibraphone, he started his own jazz group, and vigorously practiced his instrument at famed studios in New York City. His collaborations read like a “Who’s Who” list, and his travel led him around the world. You can hear an original composition by Mattathias entitled Samba Kwa Mwanamke Mwesi (Samba for the Black
Woman) on the Rashsaan Roland Kirk recording, Other Folks Music.
Jazz Impact Awardee, Kim Clarke, is a local favorite who presents Ladies Got Chops when featured around town. She studied under the great bassist Ron Carter, and a stint with pianist Barry Harris’ jazz workshop led to the house bassist at several Harlem jazz clubs.
Jasmine Morris, the Deacon Leroy Applin Young Lioness Award winner is 16, and attends Talent Unlimited High School. She has performed at various venues throughout New York City, and has a large repertoire of classic jazz favorites. It’s exciting to see her family appear at all
The night’s affair was well received as music filled the room when the Reggie Woods group, featuring Anthony Wonsey on keyboards, Winard Harper on drums, and Belden Bullock on bass, entertained. Bo Mendez, Program Communication Coordinator for the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS), welcomed everyone and described the facility and the Society’s many features and schedule of events.
CBJC established the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame in 2009 to recognize renowned and unheralded musicians who have impacted Brooklyn’s cultural landscape both on and off the bandstand. Musicians are known mostly for their musical talents, but some artists have made social contributions as well, which like their music, uplift people all over the world. Many jazz performing artists do not get the same level of
recognition as their commercially successful counterparts. These griots are especially endeared by Central Brooklyn’s Hall of Fame for providing cultural activities and services for the community.
Nominations are generated by the public, and then candidates are categorized into the Hall of Fame – Jazz Impact, Leroy Applin Young Lion/Lionness, and the Jazz Shrine/Venue. The vote and tally took place at the general membership meeting.
Brooklyn’s musical lineage traces its beginnings from America’s love affair with the “spirituals” when the Fisk Jubilee Singers performed at Brooklyn Heights’ Plymouth Church in 1871 right up to Brooklyn’s own Randy Weston’s internationally acclaimed African Rhythms ensemble
performance in the many “Jazz Shrines” located in central Brooklyn.
So to document and preserve the borough’s rich history, CBJC created a museum component to document and honor those individuals and venues which have impacted the lives of Brooklynites and jazz aficionados alike. Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum Is an entity whose creators and custodians envision being a place where Jazz lives featuring its past, present and future through interactive displays, educational series, broadcasting, and a performance center.
This night at BHS is the center of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival which began on April 14th and ends May 14th. Jazz: The Women’s Viewpoint at Medgar Evers College and the Gala concert/dinner at Weeksville Heritage Center, are prize events that illustrate our commitment to Central Brooklyn.
Your donations will help KEEP JAZZ ALIVE! Please mail your check to: Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, 1958 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York 11233.