Mrs. Theodora Taylor and daughter Kim Taylor-Thompson (Photo by Hubert Williams)

*On Monday, October 10, 2011, Jazzmobile, Inc., the Harlem-based organization that pioneered the concept of bringing jazz into the community and creating new audiences with mobile jazz performances, hosted its first annual Jazzy Awards Celebration: In Honor of Dr. Billy Taylor’s 90th birthday (1921-2010) at the Hudson Theatre, 145 West 44th Street in New York City.

The first annual jazzy event attracted over 300 revelers who were treated to a memorable concert featuring special performances by Dianne Reeves, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, Wycliffe Gordon and the Jazzmobile Big Band conducted by Cecil Bridgewater.

In addition to the performances, legendary Jazz Impresario, George Wein and JPMorgan Chase Foundation were honored for their significant contributions to Jazz and their continuous support of Jazzmobile.

Wynton Marsalis, artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, presented the Jazzy Award to Chase while Dick Cashin, managing director of One Equity Partners and a board member of the Newport Festivals Foundation, made the presentation to Wein.

Marsalis also presented an award created from a work by renowned artist Leroy Neiman to Mrs. Billy (Theodora) Taylor in recognition of what would have been Dr. Taylor’s 90th birthday and for his many contributions to Jazz including the founding of Jazzmobile.

Jazz impresario and honoree George Wein, Dr. Glory Van Scott, Jerry Chazen, Robin Bell-Stevens (Photo by Gerald Peart)

The Honorable H. Carl McCall served as committee chair for the Jazzy Awards celebration with special thanks to Bill Lynch Associates.  Honorary Chairmen were Spike Lee and Wynton Marsalis, with Kathleen Battle, Ruby Dee, Honorable David Dinkins, Joyce Dinkins, Danny Simmons and Theodora Taylor serving as honorary committee members.  The Steering Committee included Eileen A. Frank, H. Sidney Holmes III, and Kim Taylor-Thompson.

Jazzmobile, Inc., America’s oldest not-for-profit arts organization created just for Jazz, was founded in 1964 by NEA Jazz Master Dr. Billy Taylor and Daphne Arnstein.  Its mission is to present, preserve, promote, and propagate Jazz – “America’s classical music.”

This mission is implemented through quality jazz education and performance programs, workshops, master classes, lecture demonstrations, arts enrichment programs, as well as out-of-doors mobile Jazz performances and those in clubs and major concert halls here and abroad.  Jazzmobile serves approximately 100,000 people in New York City and its outlying areas each year.

Presently Jazzmobile is run by a board of directors comprised of Robin Bell-Stevens (director), Ronald Benjamin, CPA (treasurer), Eileen Frank, CPCU.ARE (director), Darrell S. Gay, Esq. (chairman), Timothy Greenfield (secretary) and Michael Jones, M.D. (director).

Prior to the jazzy concert, VIPs attended a pre-concert reception hosted by a select group of philanthropists supporting Jazzmobile.  The event was impeccably produced by Dwight Johnson Design; and legendary jazz publicist Carolyn McClair handled media relations.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.