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Jazz innovators honored at Harpers Ferry

June 28, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -Jazz veterans Curtis Fuller and John Handy will be the honorees at the sixth annual Don Redman Awards and Concert on Saturday in Harpers Ferry.

Fuller, a 73-year-old trombonist, and Handy, a 74-year-old alto sax player, will perform with accompaniment by the Howard Burns Quartet, a local jazz act.

The free, outdoor concert will be on the lawn of the Mather Training Center, off Filmore Street.

The award recognizes artists who have strongly influenced jazz and have shared their love of music with others. Fuller and Handy were chosen by members of the Harpers Ferry Historical Association, the Piedmont, W.Va.-based Don Redman Heritage Society and the Jefferson County (W.Va.) NAACP.

"Both of these men have been innovative stylists," said Todd Bolton, branch chief of visitor services at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. "They have also been great teachers."


Fuller recorded for Blue Note records in the late '50s and toured with Dizzie Gillespie's big band. He experimented with electronic instruments in the '70s and did several European tours throughout the '80s and '90s.

A Texas-born jazzman, Handy moved to New York in 1958 and recorded songs with jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus. Handy led several bands and was eventually signed to Columbia Records in 1966. He gained further commercial success after recording "Hard Work" in 1976. He now teaches in the San Francisco Bay area.

The concert and awards ceremony gets its name from '20s-era jazzman Don Redman, who was born in Piedmont but came to Harpers Ferry in 1916 to attend Storer College, an institution established in 1867 to educate former slaves.

Though Redman most likely grew up on Dixieland jazz, he became one of the genre's first band leaders and helped shape new forms - swing and bebop jazz.

Redman kept close ties with Storer after he graduated in 1920, playing at concerts and raising money for the school.

"We look at those who live and work in the spirit of Don Redman," Bolton said. "We keep that name alive and provide cultural entertainment every year to honor his name."

If you go ...

WHAT: The sixth annual Don Redman Heritage Awards and Concert with performers Curtis Fuller, John Handy and the Howard Burns Quartet

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30

WHERE: Mather Training Center, Fillmore Street, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

COST: Free

MORE: For more information, call 304-535-6298.

Who is 'The Little Giant of Jazz'?

Find out more online about Don Redman's life, his local connections and his contribution to music, at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Web site,

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