John H. Baker Jazz Film Collection
Come check out our John H. Baker Jazz Film Collection at the American Jazz Museum in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The culmination of nearly 10 years of careful collection, inspection, restoration and digitization of 16 and 35-mm film, a significant portion of the American Jazz Museum’s John Baker Film Collection is ready for public viewing (watch our YouTube Channel sampler).
The John Baker Film Collection Exhibit focuses on the first four areas of a planned series of rotating thematic content: “Big Bands,” “Women in Jazz,” “Duke Ellington”, and “African-American Dance and Jazz,” with commentary from renowned African-American film expert Pearl Bowser.
It also features new state-of-the-art SoundShower® technology, never-before-seen photos, and individual film viewing kiosks where users can browse through dozens of clips and “soundies,” short-film-performances that serve as the precursor to today’s music video.
Lifetime Achievement Award
CLASS OF 2005
CLASS OF 2006
CLASS OF 2007
DR. BILLY TAYLOR
CLASS OF 2008
CLASS OF 2009
CLASS OF 2010
CLASS OF 2011
CLASS OF 2012
CLASS OF 2013
CLAUDE “FIDDLER” WILLIAMS
CLASS OF 2014
DR. NATHAN DAVIS
CLASS OF 2015
CLASS OF 2016
National Jazz Ambassador of Kansas City
Biography - Queen Bey
As a child Queen Bey listened to singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. She can remember singing in kindergarten changing the nursery rhymes to reflect jazz music she heard at home. Her constant diversion to the tempo of jazz kept her teachers frustrated.. As she grew older she would hide in the closets and sing jazz music because she didn’t want her parents to hear her sing as they thought jazz singers were trouble.
When Queen was twelve years old she entered a talent show called “Stars of Tomorrow” on a radio station in Kansas City. She felt this was her chance to find out if she could be a singer. Queen’s aunt took her to the legendary Orchid Room jazz club where the contest was being taped. Queen sang “Double Crossing Blues with a house band. Marty Graham, the owner of the Orchid Room heard her performing and offered me her a job on the spot, before the contest ended, singing on Monday nights. Queen was just twelve years old, and the Orchid Room was a jumping joint as they referred to clubs in those days. Queen’s aunt talked her mother into signing a waiver stating that she agreed to allow Queen to stay back stage and appear on stage as a singer. Queen’s mother worked nights and when her aunt couldn’t stay with Queen she needed a chaperone back stage. It was back stage at the Orchid Room, as a young girl of twelve, that Queen first met Billie Holiday.
Queen continued to sing at the Orchid Room – never straying from the stage, and she needed a constant stream of chaperones. Most singers and band members were delighted to “look after” the teenager with the big voice. Jazz greats such as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Linda Hopkins became her chaperones and her teachers.
Queen’s wide repertoire of jazz and blues standards and innovative and often unknown songs are drawn from her first-hand experiences working with the legends of jazz and blues. Queen’s style, “a natural and understated approach to the material make for a solid crowd pleaser” according to Variety magazine.
Queen has performed with B.B. King, The Platters and the late jazz pianist Earl Garner. She received rave reviews in the national entertainment magazine Variety and The New York Times for her act at New York’s Michael’s Pub.
In 1980, Ms. Bey received the Kansas Governor’s Arts Award and was one of the honorees at the 1991 induction of the Elder Statesman of Kansas City Jazz, Inc. She is officially recognized as Kansas City’s Ambassador of Jazz and each year travels internationally promoting jazz and blues music on behalf of the United States and jazz organizations. Her travels have taken her from Brazil to Germany to Greece.
Arthur Murray Blythe Sr. Foundation
Saxophonist and composer Arthur Blythe is considered by many serious jazz fans as one of the few unique voices of the late 20th century. Blythe lived in San Diego, California, returning to Los Angeles when he was 19 years old. He took up the alto saxophone at the age of nine, playing R&B until his mid-teens when he discovered jazz. In the mid-1960s he was part of The Underground Musicians and Artists Association (UGMAA), west coast counterpart to Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) founded by Horace Tapscott, on whose 1969 The Giant Is Awakened, Blythe made his recording debut.
After moving to New York in the mid-70s, he worked as a security guard before being offered a place as sideman for Chico Hamilton (75-77). He subsequently played with Gil Evans Orchestra (76-78), Lester Bowie (‘78), Jack DeJohnette (‘79) and McCoy Tyner (‘79). The Arthur Blythe band of 1979 – John Hicks, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall – played Carnegie Hall and the Village Vanguard.
Blythe started to record as a leader in 1977 for the India Navigation label and then for Columbia records from 1978 to 1987. Albums such as The Grip and Metamorphosis (both on India Navigation) offered capable, highly refined jazz fare with a free angle that made Blythe too “out there” for the general public, but endeared him to the more serious jazz fans. Blythe played on many pivotal albums of the 1980s, among them Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition on ECM. Blythe was a member of the all-star jazz group The Leaders and, after the departure of Julius Hemphill, he joined the World Saxophone Quartet. Beginning in 2000 he made recordings on Savant Records which included Exhale (2003) with John Hicks (piano), Bob Stewart (tuba), and Cecil Brooks III (drums). On June 3, 2013, Arthur Blythe underwent an operation to remove a large benign tumor from his right kidney at USC’s Keck Center, and spent one week after the procedure in an induced coma in their ICU unit. Mr. Blythe has also been living with Parkinson’s for eight years, and recently, the disease has advanced rapidly. He is currently in a rehabilitation center in Lancaster, Calif, and needs to remain in a secure place economically in order to fight Parkinson’s disease.
The Arthur Murray Blythe Sr. Foundation was started by Queen Bey to honor this jazz titan’s legacy and inspire future generations to continue on the gift of jazz.