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Jazz Journalists Association's
Bay Area Jazz Hero - Miss Faye Carol
April 12, 2014
Saturday, April 12
The Jazz Journalists Association Recognizes The Dynamic Miss Faye Carol With A Jazz Hero Award At Yoshi’s on 1-3 p.m., April 12, 2014
School of the Get Down presents the Glitterati
MITC (Music in the Community)
The public is invited to join the Bay Area chapter of the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) in presenting vocalist and educator Faye Carol with its annual Jazz Hero Award. Jazz Heroes are activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have made a significant impact in their local communities. The honor is presented as part of the celebration of April as Jazz Month and April 30 as International Jazz Day, hosted this year by Osaka, Japan. Past Bay Area Jazz Heroes include SFJAZZ’s Randall Kline, flutist, arranger and educator Dr. John Calloway, vocalist Ed Reed, trumpeter and educator Khalil Shaheed, and DJ Sonny Buxton.
One of the most versatile vocalists in jazz, the blues-steeped Carol can croon soul and standards, scat hurtling bebop lines and deliver torch songs with scorching intensity. Over the years she’s devoted much of her energy to raising up young musicians in the jazz traditions. The Bay Area scene is rife with players who got their start under her firm but loving direction, from saxophonist/drummer Howard Wiley and saxophonist Joshi Marshall to bassist Marcus Shelby and pianist Benny Green, who says “I can’t begin to fathom how much I got from Faye in terms of a foundation as a jazz performer. We played standards and talked about the blues from an insider’s perspective. Opening the show playing a trio number or two was my first time getting my feet wet leading a band. Being around a Black American musician who lived the music all her life was an experience that money can’t buy.”
Born in Meridian, Miss., Carol moved to the East Bay town of Pittsburg as a child and by the time she graduated high school she was established on the Black Diamond mainstream, the hopping strip of blues and jazz clubs catering to soldiers from Camp Stoneman. A talent contest victory at the Oakland Auditorium led to steady work with veteran East Bay bluesmen like Johnny Talbot, Eddie Foster, and Johnny Hartsman, who took her out on the Bay Area blues circuit.
While she grew up listening to the soul and R&B hits of the day, Carol came to appreciate the great jazz singers and instrumentalists of earlier eras through her future husband, the late educator Jim Gamble, and pianist Martha Young, a niece of tenor sax immortal Lester Young. As a teenager in Pittsburg, Carol used to hang out at Young’s house almost every afternoon to sing, and it was Young who introduced her to Billie Holiday’s music, though she didn’t start performing those songs until decades later.
Sometimes it seems like Carol has mentored half the young (and not so young) players on the scene. She first started teaching in the late 1980s at Jazz Camp West. But in recent years she’s been taking the music to the street through her Music In the Community program at Berkeley’s Black Rep Theatre. Initially funded by the California Arts Council, she’s kept the program going for the past decade through her own sweat and determination. With arts education but a memory in many East Bay schools, Carol provides a desperately needed service.