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For the Grand Prize: April Is . . . ?

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Did you know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Neither did I until I chanced upon a press release to that effect. According to the Smithsonian Institution's Smithsonian Jazz website, there are "celebrations in all 50 states and 40 countries." If I'm not mistaken, New Mexico is one of those 50 states, and no one here has planned anything special to commemorate the month, at least not to my knowledge. Aside from the regular Thursday night events at The Outpost Performance Space and a few scattered gigs by local musicians, the table is bare. Things are relatively busier in DC, where the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has planned a number of events including performances, talks and family activities at venues across the city. The museum launched JAM (Jazz Appreciation Month) in 2001 as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz as an historic and living American art form. On April 21, as an example, the NMAH will present a history of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, America's first integrated all-female big band. For more about Jazz Appreciation Month in DC, visit www.jazz@si.edu

A Trio of Fond Farewells

Drummer Jake Hanna

Jake Hanna
Jake Hanna
b.1931
, who made more than a few big bands sound even better than they were, died February 12 of complications from a blood disorder. Hanna, who was born April 4, 1931, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, started playing drums at age five. In the 1940s and early 1950s he worked with pianists Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
piano
and Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
Toshiko Akiyoshi
b.1929
piano
and in bands led by Tommy Reed and Ted Weems
Ted Weems
b.1901
before moving onward and upward to perform with the likes of Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
Maynard Ferguson
1928 - 2006
trumpet
, Woody Herman
Woody Herman
Woody Herman
1913 - 1987
band/orchestra
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Harry James
Harry James
Harry James
b.1916
trumpet
, Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
Herb Pomeroy
b.1930
trumpet
and others. In 1964, Hanna became a member of the studio band for the Merv Griffin television show, and moved to Los Angeles in 1970 when Griffin relocated from New York City. On the West Coast, Hanna remained busy in mainstream and swing sessions, played with Supersax and co-led a small group with trombonist Carl Fontana
Carl Fontana
Carl Fontana
1928 - 2003
trombone
. He recorded many times (mostly as a sideman) for Concord Records. I fondly recall Hanna as guest drummer on a splendid album from Canada, Kansas City Nights, with saxophonist Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
b.1936
's Wee Big Band and pianist Jay McShann
Jay McShann
Jay McShann
1909 - 2006
piano
(Sackville 3057). Hanna, who could swing in any context, was a fixture at jazz parties and festivals across the country, and will be greatly missed by his many fans.

Saxophonist Tony Campise

Tony Campise
Tony Campise
b.1943
, who played lead alto with the Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
Orchestra in the mid-1970s and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992 for his album Once in a Blue Moon, died from a brain hemorrhage March 7, five months after he fell and struck his head outside a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. Campise had been hospitalized since then and had undergone three operations to relieve pressure on his brain. A native of Houston, Campise settled in Austin in 1984. Besides holding a five-nights-a-week gig on Sixth Street, he backed such legendary singers as Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
and Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan
1924 - 1990
vocalist
. A versatile musician, Campise could play any woodwind instrument and was known as well for his skill on flute.

Art Van Damme

Art Van Damme
1920 - 2010
accordion
, an accordionist whose nimble jazz improvisations were more than a novelty act, died February 15 at age 89. Van Damme was a pioneer of Jazz accordion, starting from 1941 when he was hired by bandleader Ben Bernie
Ben Bernie
b.1891
. Returning to studio work in Chicago, Van Damme formed a quintet with several colleagues and recorded his first album for the Musicraft label in 1944. For the next 15 years he was a studio musician for NBC Radio in Chicago, meanwhile recording a number of albums for the Capitol and Columbia labels aimed at a cocktail-piano audience and named accordingly (Cocktail Capers, Martini Time, Manhattan Time and so on). In 1947, Van Damme made the cover of DownBeat magazine, and was voted Top Accordionist in the magazine's annual poll of jazz musicians for ten years in a row. Later, he was similarly honored for five years in a row by Contemporary Keyboard magazine. Van Damme later moved into more adventurous territory with albums such as Accordion a la Mode and A Perfect Match, the latter with guitarist Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith
Johnny Smith
1922 - 2013
guitar
.


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