Every once in a while, in life you get a surprise that is unexpected. A surprise met with overwhelming awe yet filled with much gratitude. Such a surprise occurred last week for me and the entire JazzBuffalo community.
I wish to thank the poll voters, Buffalo Spree, and the panelists of the Buffalo Spree Best of WNY awards for the Best Friend of the Arts Award for 2018. This is a tremendous honor and form of recognition that is met with sincere appreciation. The award speaks volumes, not for me, but for the passionate community-building taking place through the organization and platform we call JazzBuffalo. Whereby engaged audiences, musicians, community activists, community organizations, and community leaders are coming together to enrich the lives of many in Greater Buffalo.
The use of the word “friend” is very much apropos. It is through JazzBuffalo, I have met many wonderful friends who are not only passionate about jazz but also in doing all we can to enrich the community. In particular, it has been a joy to see returning audience members over and over again. Many who put up with my weakness in remembering names! Seeing smiling enthralled faces in rapt attention from a concert performance “makes it all worth it” as the saying goes.
While it is impossible to thank everyone and every organization, there are a few I wish to thank for their support and inspiration. Such partners as Pausa Art House, MusicalFare Theatre, Hotel Henry, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Art of Jazz Series, The Northwest Jazz Festival, The Hollow Bistro, The Screening Room, The Historic Colored Musicians Club, The Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Collective, WNED/WBFO, Buffalo Rising, Tappo Restaurant, The Burchfield Penny Arts Center, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Marketing Tech Online, Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, and others.
People whose support and inspiration has meant the world to me include Lazara Martinez, Randy Kramer, Katie Stahlka, Dawn Berry-Walker, “Uncle” Ken Martin, Walter Kemp, III, John and Josephine Radice, George Scott, Bruce Eaton, George Osborne and Jennifer Pauly and the entire board , as well as, staff of the Northwest Jazz Festival, Lori Presti, Carol Calato, Phil DiRe, Gina Burkhardt, Greg Hennessey, Mike McKay, Paul Hage, Rocco Termini, Kevin Doyle, Jack Zuff, Mark Criden, Tim Brooks, Geno and Diana Principe, Kristie Pottle, Newell Nussbaumer, Bob Golibersuch, Linda Appleby, Ed Croft, Drea d’Nur, “Cuz” Karen Ragusa, all my bandmates from My Cousin Tone’, Linda Chiappone, Abdul-Rahman Qadir, Dave Schiavone, Sabu Adeyola, and many, many, many others!
A special thank you to Lazara Martinez for her beautiful friendship and partnership via collaborative efforts at Pausa Art House. Pausa Art House also was a Buffalo Spree Best of WNY winner for Best Venue for Live Music (City). In the last few years, we’ve shared many exciting moments in presenting jazz that has also included the occasional “oops, that didn’t work” risks we’ve shared together.
And, thank you to Dawn Berry-Walker for her support and our favorite saying “you know how it is” when we talk about how important jazz is to the community. Same goes for Walter Kemp, III – his support and “you know how it is” saying – is invaluable.
Many thanks with loads of appreciation to a “kindred spirit” in jazz and encourager, Bruce Eaton. His guidance and support have been endearing. It has also been just a super experience to serve as associate producer for his efforts with the AKG Art of Jazz Series. And, if it were possible, we could stay up 24-hours a day talking “jazz.”
Last but not least, none of this would be possible without the love and huge support of my wife and partner in life, Cindy. Especially when she says, “I’m jazzed out.”