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Thursday April 17, 2014
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Geri Allen

 

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Detroit's jazz history reaches back almost a century. The urban mix, enriched over decades by the Great Migration from the South, provided a multiethnic and multicultural artistic palette, and the predominantly African American city core abounded with all kinds of music. Young talents were nurtured in a variety of social spaces: at home, in church, in public schools, and in the universities of the streets, whose mentors provided instruction and inspiration. The three most important such teachers were pianist Barry Harris, who trained generations of important artists prior to his move to New York in 1960, saxophonist Donald Washington, and Belgrave. Their work was aided by the high level of music instruction in the public schools, especially at Northern (Tommy Flanagan, Bess Bonnier, Smokey Robinson), Northwestern (Betty Carter, Roy Brooks, Wendell Harrison), Miller (Frank Rosolino, Milt Jackson), and Cass Tech high schools. Cass Tech produced such illustrious alumni as singer Diana Ross, comic Lily Tomlin, and, of course, successful jazz players, among them Gerald Wilson, Donald Byrd, Regina Carter, and Geri Allen.

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