"Horn in the Corn" Bill Johnson, Photographer,
RON MYERS PROMOTES JUNETEEENTH JAZZ
DURING BLACK MUSIC MONTH
MYERS KEEPS JAZZ ALIVE IN THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA
(Belzoni, Mississippi) - As the National Juneteenth
Jazz Artist, minister, physician and jazz musician, Rev.
Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., performs across the country promoting "June Is Black Music Month!"
- CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH JAZZ - Preserving Our African American Jazz
Founder of the National
Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP),
Myers is the leader of the "Modern Juneteenth Movement"
in America and the
National Juneteenth Holiday
NAJJP is the
sponsor of several Juneteenth Jazz Legacy
Concerts and African American Art Exhibits
Month, including the historic African-American jazz
legacy cities of Kansas
City, MO and Omaha, NB.
However, the Mississpi Delta is where Myers lives and practices medicine
in some of the poorest counties in America. He is the first ordained
and commissioned medical missionary to the Mississippi Delta, America's
poorest geographical region, in the history of the African American
church in America.
As the Artistic Director of the Mississippi
Jazz & Heritage Festival, Myers works to keep
Mississippi's rich jazz legacy alive in the Mississippi Delta. Best
known as the home of the blues, the Belzoni physician and accomplished
jazz trumpeter and pianist, with medical clinics throughout the
Mississippi Delta, continues to make jazz a household name in the delta.
"The Mississippi Delta has rich jazz legacy," states Dr. Myers. "One
of the greatest jazz pianist in the world, Mulgrew Miller, was born in
Greenwood, Mississippi and
one of the greatest jazz composers since Duke Ellington, Gerald Wilson,
was born in Shaw, Mississippi. Other legendary jazz artist from
Mississippi include Milt Hinton, the father of the
modern jazz bass, who was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, while Lester
"Prez" Young, the father of the modern jazz saxophone, was born in
Woodville, Mississippi," continues Myers.
"Now that Mississippi is my home, keeping that tradition alive while
performing throughout the area is quite an honor."
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1956 and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
Myers career as a jazz musician was greatly influenced by performing
with the legendary jazz saxophonist
as a 16 year old high school student. "Performing with Sonny Stitt
was a pivotal experience for me as a young musician," states Myers. "I
knew then that I wanted to be a jazz musician."
Myers, while still in high school, had the opportunity to perform for
one of the masters of jazz trumpet, Donald Byrd.
"I thank my high school jazz band director, George Andrews,
and music instructor, Dr. Anderson White, for providing me with so many
unique jazz opportunities, such as performing with Sonny Stitt and for
Donald Byrd," states Myers. "They really encouraged me to develop
my music talents, which is why I work so hard to encourage young people
I meet to develop theirs."
While completing his pre-medicine studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Myers met his true music mentor, the late Professor Jimmy Cheatham,
formerly with the Duke Ellington orchestra.
"Jimmy taught me the basics of jazz improvisation and composition,"
states Myers. "I know I wouldn't be performing with the intensity
that I do today, were it not for Jimmy sharing his invaluable wisdom
about life and jazz music."
While completing his residency in family medicine at L.S.U. Medical
Center, Charity Hospital, in Baton Rouge, Bogalusa and New
Orleans, Louisiana, Myers met his true jazz artistic mentor, the late
legendary jazz clarinetist Alvin Batiste.
"It was a great experience to play piano with the Alvin Batiste
quartet," states Myers. "Alvin introduced me to Ellis Marsalis,
and I also ended up playing with him in New Orleans."
Myers performed with other notable New Orleans jazz musicians including
bassist Walter Peyton, tenor saxophonist Victor Goines and alto
saxophonist Wes Anderson. It was through this music apprenticeship with
Alvin Batiste that Myers was given the opportunity headline his own
group at Snug Harbor, a top New Orleans jazz showcase.
Myers performed and recorded with the former jazz drummer for Sun Ra's
Aton, vibraphonist Charles Allen and bassist Harry
Anderson. This group of talented musicians lead by Myers gave him a
unique improvisational spiritual sound that he is known for in jazz
circles today. Myers' stellar performances at Snug Harbor lead to
being featured in the 1988 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival,
as an up and coming young jazz star.
Myers soon released his critically acclaimed CD, with all original
music, composed and arranged by Myers, "Doctor's Orders". Noted
jazz critic Willard Jenkins, who frequently reviews jazz recordings for Down
Beat and Jazz Times magazines, called the recording "one of
the most important recordings in the last ten years." Featuring original
jazz compositions like "Song For Tchula", "Blues
For Tchula" and "Message From the Country",
Myers CD has made the Mississippi Delta an area of a great jazz legacy
"Myers artistic contributions have made the Mississippi Delta known
for jazz and not just the blues," states accomplished Mississippi
Delta blues guitarist Jerry Fair. "I really enjoy his music!"
Upon completion of his residency in family medicine in 1988, Myers moved
to the Mississippi Delta and began performing in Jackson, Mississippi
and throughout the state with jazz saxophonist Ron Wesley, jazz bassist Dr. London Branch,
and Mississippi's most prolific jazz drummer, Al
Fielder. Myers was soon appointed the Artistic
Director for the Mississippi
Jazz and Heritage Festival (MJHF) by the late jazz
promoter and historian John Reese,
Founder and President of the Black Arts Music Society (BAMS).
"BAMS is the oldest and most accomplished
jazz promotion organization in Mississippi," states Myers.
supported by the Smith Robinson Museum and Cultural Center and
the Myers Foundation,
educates students and community on Mississippi's jazz legacy through a
series of concerts and lectures throughout the state. Myers also
influenced and performed with talented jazz music students at Jackson
State University, including trumpeter Russell Gunn and bassist
"John Reese was not only the greatest jazz promoter in the history of
Mississippi, but a close friend," states Myers. "During my
lectures on the historic legacy of jazz in Mississippi, I always pay
special tribute to the contribution John made to the promotion of jazz
With the assistance of Reese, Myers founded the Mississippi Jazz and Heritage
Festival, which featured several memorial jazz concerts
in honor of Mississippi jazz drum master Freddie Watts
and the legendary Mississippi jazz saxophonist Lester "Prez" Young.
Also performing concerts during Juneteenth events across the state and
country, Myers was named the National Juneteenth
Jazz Artist for the National
Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF).
To support jazz education in the Mississippi Delta, Myers accepted a
short term teaching position at Mississippi Valley State University
(MVSU) as "Jazz Artist In Residence." Myers
taught a unique course in jazz education entitled "Experimental
Improvisational Black Music Ensemble" (EIBME).
"Teaching jazz composition and improvisation through the EIBME
came from taking the same course with Professor Jimmy Cheatham, who
created it, at the University of Wisconsin," states Myers. "I
was just continuing to teach from a tradition handed down to me from my
mentor Jimmy Cheatham."
Myers, Founder & Director of the Fellowship of Creative Christian
Jazz Musicians (FCCJM), is also an ordained Baptist
Minister. Directing and performing at jazz worship services in churches
across America, Myers served as Chaplain for the Black Jazz Music Caucus (BJMC)
of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE), from
1990 - 2000. As chaplain, Myers lead and performed in unique jazz
worship services, giving praise to God through improvisational worship
music at IAJE conventions throughout the country.
"Like the Psalmist David, in Amos 6:5, who praised God through
improvisation worship, I love to praise God through jazz," states
Rev. Myers. "The psalmist says in Psalms 150, 'Let everything that
has breath Praise the Lord!'"
Myers was one of the jazz musicians who honored Vicksburg, Mississippi
native and master jazz bassist, the late Milt Hinton, during the 2000 Mississippi
Governor's Arts Award presentation. "Performing for Milt Hinton
was a great honor for me," states Myers.
"I even sang a jazz tune for Milt during the special awards program.
I'm hope Milt enjoyed my singing more then I did!"
Myers, who first performed regularly in Greenville, Mississippi at the Ramada
Inn on Sundays, began showcasing the Mississippi Delta's own
prolific jazz musicians through "Jazz Greenville" and
moving the annual Mississippi
Jazz and Heritage Festival to
Greenville on Labor Day weekend. "I am proud to be a jazz
musician from the Mississippi Delta," states Myers. "Mississippi
has a rich, rich jazz legacy that continues to leave an enduring mark
throughout the world."
Don't miss the next performance of Dr. Ron Myers. It will be just what
the doctor ordered!
For more information on Ron Myers and the National Association of
Juneteenth Jazz Presenters, Mississippi Jazz and Heritage
Festival, the National
Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), the National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign
and the Fellowship of
Creative Christian Jazz Musicians (FCCJM),
go to the web sites: www.JuneteenthJazz.com,
begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 662-247-3364 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or 662-247-1471
begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 662-247-1471 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
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