The City of Fort Worth has been home to many important jazz legends. Dewey Redman, Charles Moffett, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Prince Lasha and John Carter are just a few of the artists with Cowtown ties who have made profound contributions to the genre.
But among this illustrious group, no name is bigger than that of Ornette Coleman. A native of Fort Worth who attended I. M. Terrell High School, Coleman’s 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come revolutionized music. One critic described the record as “a watershed event in the genesis of avant-garde jazz, profoundly steering its future course.”
Some of Coleman’s band mates also were Fort Worth natives and Terrell alumni, and his style influenced many followers. One of these was Julius Hemphill, also from Fort Worth. Hemphill was a founding member of the Black Arts Group in St. Louis and a member of the World Saxophone Quartet. Fort Worth’s jazz legacy also precedes Coleman: In the 1930s and ‘40s, hometown musicians Ray McKinley and Tex Beneke both played with Glenn Miller.
Working in collaboration with Historic Camp Bowie Initiatives, Inc. and Jazz By The Boulevard, the Fort Worth Library is building The Fort Worth Jazz Archives. The mission is to build a permanent collection which will preserve the legacy of Fort Worth’s great jazz musicians and pay tribute to their significant impact they made. Our materials are available to everyone, and can serve as a great resource for research, presentations and interpretive exhibits. We are continually working to improve the collection. But to do that, we need your help.
We are seeking more materials on Fort Worth jazz, including information on musicians, clubs, writers, publishers and educators. Items of interest to us include photographs, memorabilia, recordings, oral histories, news clippings, journals, scrapbooks, video, books, sheet music and writings. With your help, we will preserve and celebrate this fascinating and vital piece of Fort Worth’s heritage.
If you are interested in learning more about the Fort Worth Jazz Archives, please speak with the staff, or call 817-392-7740.
Third Thursday Jazz
In 2010, the Fort Worth Library kicked off the Third Thursday Jazz series. This annual concert series takes attendees on a musical journey from the 20th century roots of Jazz to the diverse sounds of the present. Each series has a dynamic lineup of local and national artists and strives to promote the heritage of both Fort Worth and Jazz.
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Last updated: June 26, 2014