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No Half-Steppin’: The Big Apple Jazz Club Series

Fort Waynk Ink Spot
No Half-Steppin’: The Big Apple Jazz Club Series
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Jazz Talk Live/Big Apple Jazz Club Series grew out of a conversation between co-founders Michael Patterson and Omowale-Ketu Oladuwa during August 2017, “to do something in the city to bring back real jazz to Fort Wayne,” Oladuwa said.

When Oladuwa lived in New York, he became accustomed to jazz at the ready.  “When I didn’t have the money, I would go and sit on the steps on the outside and listen to the music,” Oladuwa said. “It was a framing experience. It helped me frame my understanding of the world.”

In 1983, Oladuwa arrived to a Fort Wayne with a thriving jazz scene.  “But it essentially petered out.”

Oladuwa was introduced to real jazz by older brother Clarence when he was around seven or eight years old.  The two would listen to records together.  “He would explain what was happening, and I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.  But I grew up with that love of the music,” Oladuwa said.

Real Jazz is steeped in deep historical traditions.  It has roots and ancestors.  Jazz is wizened and well traveled. “Jazz is a compilation of music from Africa, from the Diaspora and from Europe,” Oladuwa said.  “Follow the line of jazz, you go back to the spirituals. You go back to ring shout [first practiced by African slaves in the West Indies and the United States].”

Oladuwa continued: “You follow that through to musicians coming out of New Orleans and going to Detroit, going to Chicago, to New York, up through Memphis. You follow the movement of a people.  People took their music with them.  The music migrated out of the south”

Jazz is uniquely American born. “For that to be lost in a crossroad city like Fort Wayne is a travesty,” Oladuwa said.

And that’s the jazz that Patterson and Oladuwa have exemplified with their The Big Apple Jazz Club Series. Real Jazz.  The not Kenny G jazz. John Coltrane jazz.

Jazz Talk Live/Big Apple Jazz Club Series, 8 events in and housed at the Wunderkammer Company at 3402 Fairfield Avenue, showcases local jazz musicians representing the lasting remnants of long lost Fort Wayne jazz.

What was missing? “Give the musicians who are here a venue where they can play, it’s that simple,” Oladuwa said. “Provide a space where they can play for themselves and not just what the audience wants to hear.”

Most of the artists are local; the Joseph Daley Tuba Trio out of New York was an exception. Pianist Alicia Pyle (on Mother’s Day) and the Trumpeter Al Parr & Company have recently performed.

More shows are planned from July through September.

“All of the artists have played their own music and their own compositions, for the most part. And those compositions range from what’s termed as free jazz to bebop,” Oladuwa said.

With the Jazz Club, Oladuwa and Patterson are providing an opportunity for musicians to experiment, make mistakes, and allow for a dormant community to take part in conversations that, according to Oladuwa, derive naturally from a jazz-rich environment.

“Jimmy Hendrix said that if something is going to change in this world, it is going to be with music,” Oladuwa said.

 The Big Apple Jazz Club Series can be found online at Facebook: Jazz Talk Live/Big Apple Jazz Club Series. Prices at the door $13 for seniors/students and $18 for all others. Online $10 for seniors/students and $15 for all others. 

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