Since the year 2000, Hall of Fame Productions Incorporated (HFP) has been preserving – through interviewing, photographing and videotaping – the history of the Cleveland, Ohio area’s African-American jazz performers and venues.
The result is a memorial and educational documentary of the subjects many of whom unfortunately are now deceased. Those featured in the video include composer Hale Smith, whose compositions were performed by a range of great artists from jazz saxophonist John Coltrane to the Cleveland Orchestra; Grammy Award winning composer and saxophonist Willie Smith; the iconic blues guitarist Robert Lockwood, Jr.; keyboard/vocalist Duke Jenkins and many others. Clevelanders interviewed who are still living include internationally recognized male vocalist Little Jimmy Scott; keyboardist Eddie Baccus who for over half a century has been a Cleveland resident and performer; jazz historian and saxophonist John Richmond; Tri-C Jazz Fest Artistic Director Willard Jenkins and many others.
A preview of this historical documentary titled “Great Day in Cleveland” will be shown on Wednesday April 16, 2014 from 6-8 pm at the Judge Sara J. Harper Children’s Library located at 2453 E. 43rd St. at Quincy Ave. (Cuyahoga Community College Ave.) in Cleveland.
Dr. Fred Wheatt, founder and president of HFP says, “The documentary is titled after ‘A Great Day in Harlem’ [a 1958 photo taken by freelance photographer Art Kane] that captured many African-American jazz musicians’ images as they were collectively gathered in Harlem, New York.” In 2001 HFP gathered Cleveland area African-American musicians for a historic photo and video shoot. The photo shoot took place on the steps of Friendship Church located on E. 55th St. at Central Ave., the heart of Cleveland’s Black community during the early 1900’s. Dozens of the area’s best musicians attended the shoot. The video spotlights never before shown interviews and images of some of Cleveland’s best jazz musicians, including the above mentioned artists, and many others that have had an influence on Cleveland and even the world.
In addition to the documentary, there will be a dialogue on Cleveland’s African-American people, places of interest, institutions, culture and infrastructures that have affected Cleveland’s African-American jazz scene from the early to mid-1900’s. Panelists include Dr. Regennia Williams, Harold Wyant, Reverend Lindsey Tufts, Sr., Jesse & Eleanor “Ladybird” Dandy and Folio Mays.
The event is free and open to the public. However, seating is limited and individuals who would like to attend must call Hall of Fame Productions at 440-247-6872 to reserve a ticket. For more info go online to www.halloffameproductions.com or call Hall of Fame Productions at 440-247-6872.