"Jazz: Music of the Spirit"

Jazz Takes a Hit – Great Artists Pass

By Jitu K. Weusi

The music known as Jazz, sometimes referred as African-American classical music, has suffered a setback lately as several veteran stars have died. It began with the death of Louis Reyes Rivera”.  Known as the Janitor of History, poet/essayist Louis Reyes Rivera has been studying his craft since 1960 and teaching it since 1969. The recipient of over 20 awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), a Special Congressional Recognition Award (1988), and the CCNY 125th Anniversary Medal (1973), Rivera has assisted in the publication of well over 200 books, including John Oliver Killens' Great Black Russian (Wayne State U., 1989), Adal Maldonado's Portraits of the Puerto Rican Experience (IPRUS, 1984), and Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Crown Publishers, 2001)

Louis Reyes Rivera

Considered by many as a necessary bridge between the African and Latino American communities, he is a professor of Pan-African, African-American, Caribbean and Puerto Rican literature and history whose essays and poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Areyto, Boletin, The City Sun, African Voices, and in five award-winning collections: In Defense of Mumia; ALOUD: Live from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Of Sons And Lovers, Bum Rush the Page, and his own Scattered Scripture.

Since 1996, Rivera continued to host a bi-monthly 1st & 3rd Sundays Jazzoetry & Open Mic @ Sistas' Place (where he also conducted his writing workshop), in Brooklyn, and has appeared in Jazz clubs and festivals with The Sun Ra All-Stars Project, Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora, and his own band, The Jazzoets. He has recently appeared on C-SPAN, as part of the REPARATIONS NOW! rally held in Washington, D.C., this past August 17th, and on Russell Simmons' DEF POETRY on HBO.

More on Mr. Rivera, click here.

This week it was New York City and Brooklyn’s turn to absorb the hit when the word came that respected drummer Wade Barnes had died.  We remember Mr. Barnes as one of the first persons to support CBJC as artistic director.  

Called, “The Future of Bebop (House of Blues, Review May 5, 2000), Wade Barnes is certainly considered by many to be one of the great drummers, and composers.  The Albany Times Union stated about his appearance at the 1997 Saratoga Jazz Festival, “Mr. Barnes has developed into a premier drummer, composer, and educator.” Receiving a Master of Arts, in Music, Vermont College, Norwich University and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music, Empire State College, S.U.N.Y., and in History, Queens College, after years of informal study, while performing since a teenager in New York City, Wade Barnes has facilitated a holistic conception which incorporates the entire history of American music. 


Mr. Barnes’ knowledge of social and musical history as well as pedagogy has allowed him to create an extremely successful innovative, interdisciplinary, and interactive program called, “The Charles Evans Music Initiative, In New Orleans, Featuring Wade Barnes and Unit Structures.”  This effort, as well as his other music education and community activities, has made Mr. Barnes a leader in the field of “teaching artists

 Mr. Barnes, also, performed with: “Doc” Cheatham; Earle Warren; Dicky Wells; Howard McGhee; Cecil Payne; Leonard Gaskin; Joe Knight; Franklin Skeets; Candido; Albert Dailey; Billy Mitchell; Benny Powell; Jimmy Garrison; Bob Cranshaw; Archie Shepp; George Coleman; James Spaulding; Sonny Fortune; Jon Faddis among others.

The world is a better place today because of the work of these giants.