In 1916 the nation was still trying to heal from the Civil War and the end of slavery barely 50 years before.. And segregation was still very much a way of life. But the Spirituals sung in the fields lived on.
A group of those segregated musicians gathered in the western New York community of Buffalo to make their own kind of music that stemmed from those Spirituals. And so Jazz and the Colored Musicians Club was born.
In 1917 the Musicians Club bought their own building on Broadway as a gathering place for jamming and camaraderie…a building a place to play.
In celebration of 100 years of the Colored Musicians Club, members of the George Scott Big Band and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra joined forces at Kleinhans Music Hall on Oct] 3 for a musical walk through history.
With Stephan Sanders directing the BPO and George Scott directing his Big Band, the musical celebration began with the musical theme of a silent and pink cartooned cat – “The Pink Panther”.
With only the strings and the harp of the Orchestra, the BPO performed a beautiful and soulful rendition of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. Everyone joined in for a rousing rendition of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” before Big Band male vocalist Chis Lamendola performed “Birth of the Blues”. Big Band female vocalist Melissa Kate took the stage for a performance of “Night and Day”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, and “Stormy Weather”.
Chris returned to the stage to perform…and lead the audience…in a rendition of the Cab Calloway hit “Minnie the Moocher” that got the crowd going. The show ended with a performance of Santana’s “Smooth” and the “Yardbird Suite”.
And while the concert was over, the night of fun and music was not. Moving across the hall to the Mary Seaton room where there was plenty of room to dance, dancers Lauren and Darius joined in as the George Scott Orchestra performed music to dance to including “In the Mood”, “Heartache Tonight”, Saturday in the Park”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, and “Morning Dance”.
While the celebration lasted only tow hours, the oldest organization of its kind in the United States, the Colored Musicians Club lives on to continue the traditions of Jazz music in Buffalo.
photos by Sherrill Fulghum
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