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Harvard University Honors ‘Jazz Heroes’ Steve Schwartz, Eric Jackson and Fred Taylor

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top-bottom: Steve Schwartz, Eric Jackson and Fred Taylor.

Harvard Honors ‘Jazz Heroes’

Radio personalities Steve Schwartz and Eric Jackson and presenter/promoter Fred Taylor were saluted by Harvard University for their extraordinary support of Boston’s jazz artists and the entire jazz community during a two-day celebration, “Harvard Honors Jazz Heroes,” November 1-2, 2012.

This recognition, sponsored by the Harvard Jazz Bands and the Office for the Arts at Harvard’s Learning From Performers program, is for Schwartz and Jackson’s combined 60-plus years of hosting jazz programs on WGBH-FM; and for Taylor’s longtime management and booking of several key jazz venues and festivals. Together, their efforts and advocacy for the music and its artists, audiences, educators and the media have been indispensible in terms of curating, nurturing and sustaining Boston’s—and the nation’s—jazz legacy.

The trio participated in two events:

Thursday, November 1: “The Hub of Swing: A Look at Boston's Jazz Scene with Steve Schwartz, Eric Jackson and Fred Taylor,” a panel discussion and audience Q&A moderated by jazz writer and consultant Bob Blumenthal (Harvard ’69, JD ’72) at the Barker Center.
Friday, November 2: “Live From Lowell Hall: Harvard Honors Jazz Heroes,” a concert with Steve Schwartz, Eric Jackson and Fred Taylor featuring the Harvard Jazz Bands with guest conductor, composer and saxophonist Don Braden ’85. Repertory included “Hero’s Choice”: tunes selected by Schwartz, Jackson, and Taylor.

Havard Gazette article When Jazz Was King, 11/5/12

Harvard Crimsin article Jazz Legends Gather to Look Forward, 11/6/12

Steve Schwartz was a part of WGBH 89.7 from 1985 to this year, bringing a wealth of jazz programming knowledge to the airwaves. When he joined the station he created a weekend overnight jazz program, “The Jazz Gallery.” His last program, “Jazz from Studio Four” (formerly “Now's the Time”), began in September 1990. Schwartz regularly recorded visiting jazz artists such as Carol Sloane, Ellis and Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Mili Bermejo, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Danilo Perez and Max Roach at locations around greater Boston. These recordings were broadcast on various WGBH 89.7 jazz programs throughout the year, and many have been distributed nationally on the weekly National Public Radio (NPR) program “JazzSet.” Schwartz was also the producer behind the WGBH 89.7 series “Jazz Portraits.” Funded in part by the New England Foundation for the Arts, each program presented an internationally-known jazz musician telling his or her own story in words and music. Featured artists included Herb Pomeroy, Jackie McLean, Alan Dawson, Jimmy Giuffre, Attila Zoller, Archie Shepp, George Russell, Yusef Lateef, Mili Bermejo, and Avery Sharpe. In 2004 Schwartz was the recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association's Excellence in Jazz Broadcasting/The Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award.

Hailed as "The Dean of the Boston Jazz Scene," Eric Jackson has presided over jazz radio in Boston for over 25 years. A Boston University graduate and second-generation DJ and radio announcer (his father Sam was the first African-American DJ in New England, playing jazz on a Rhode Island station in 1947 when the family was based in Connecticut), he has been a local mainstay since the 1970s and has come to know many of jazz’s biggest names. His award-winning WGBH program "Jazz with Eric in the Evening" has been an institution for generations of listeners during its long run, and given Jackson a front row seat to the last three-plus decades of jazz, from which he’s conducted more than 3000 interviews, including discussions with many of the music’s legendary figures. Jackson also serves as adjunct lecturer for Northeastern University's department of African American Studies. This summer he was named the 2012 Duke Dubois Humanitarian Award recipient at the JazzWeek awards in Detroit. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to jazz, jazz radio, jazz education and generous service to the jazz community.

Born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, Fred Taylor has had an illustrious career as one of Boston’s premier jazz promoters, which dates back to 1963 when he ran Paul’s Mall and the Boston Jazz Workshop on Boylston St., across from the Lenox Hotel. John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie played there, and so did Bruce Springstein, Billy Joel and Earth, Wind and Fire when they were starting their careers. Taylor ran the clubs until 1978; then went on to produce concerts in Boston Symphony Hall and the Boston Garden, working with Bob Dylan, Miles Davis and others. In 1991 Taylor began working at Scullers Jazz Club at the Doubletree Hotel in Allston, and turned it into one of the top ten jazz clubs in America. From 2001 to 2007 he was artistic director for the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, and today he is entertainment director of Scullers Jazz Club, and a board member of JazzBoston. When not promoting jazz concerts, Taylor is reportedly working on a memoir of his fascinating life as one of Boston’s legendary jazz promoters.

“Harvard Honors Jazz Heroes” was produced in association with WHRB-FM, and also with the Friends of the John Coltrane Memorial Concert, which presented the 35th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert on Saturday, November 3 at Blackman Theatre, Northeastern University, honoring Steve Schwartz and hosted by Eric Jackson. Information: www.jcmc.neu.edu

(More Harvard jazz history)