Concerts showcase the legends of jazz. Shows are nightly at 7 p.m. with two shows on Saturdays and Sundays.
By Megan Reed
April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and three-time Grammy-nominated artist Barbara Morrison is hosting concerts everyday in Leimert Park during the month. She’s opening the doors to the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center and the California Jazz and Blues Museum so that people can hear the sounds that have influenced Black music for well over 50 years.
“We participate by putting on plays of all of the jazz greats,” Morrison said.
At these nightly concerts, modern day jazz artists perform the songs of jazz legends. A part of the musical performances are monologues by the performer in the voices of the jazz legends. On Monday evenings, Morrison is performing as Dinah Washington, who has been referred to as "the most popular Black female recording artist of the '50s.”
Dante Chambers will perform a tribute to Nat King Cole on Thursday the 11th and 18th. Brian McNeil’s tribute of Sammy Davis Jr. will be on Sunday the 14th.
On weekdays, the shows will begin at 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, there will be matinee shows at 3 p.m. and evening shows starting at 7 p.m.
The purpose of having nightly shows is to ensure that jazz does not fade away.
“It’s almost like a forgotten piece of American history,” Morrison said. “It’s bigger around the world than it is here in America. But it was born here. We as African Americans were responsible for that.”
These events also introduce jazz to young musicians.
“Our purpose is to show the children that, ‘oh, so you thought you invented something, you think you invented rap…or scat?’” Morrison said. “And you pull out somebody like Richard Boone, or Ella Fitzgerald, and Eddie Jefferson, and people who were rapping way before even your momma was born.”
The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center and California Jazz and Blues Museum hold music lessons for the Harmony Project, which teaches children ages five to 15 how to play the piano, drums, and horn instruments. The program also has vocal instruction, theatre arts, and mentoring programs. Lessons are held in the museum so that the children can see the great artists who came before them.
“In this room are the veterans who make the music,” Morrison said. “The people that have been around for quite awhile. We want the youth to come in and see who is responsible for making these instruments sound so good, and the vocals sound so good.”
The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center is located at 4305 Degnan Boulevard, Suite 101, and the California Jazz and Blues Museum is located at 4317 Degnan Boulevard. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center at (310) 462-1439 or visit www.barbaramorrison.com.