We had some tech problems with the broadcast last week, so we’re going to reprise Joe Negri, Terri Bell and Max Leake in their comments from Joe’s JazzLive Legacy Award event. Also, a visit with Pittsburgh native John Shannon, guitarist (and grandson of Paul Shannon) who’s come back to town and is helping launch a new food and entertainment spot in Shadyside, Con Alma.
Plus, news of Roger Humphries and the honor of a Doctor of Humane Letters being awarded this weekend by West Virginia Wesleyan College, classic sounds from Charles Bell, a tune from the soundtrack of the new film "BOLDEN” from Wynton Marsalis, Booker T Jones comes to MCG Jazz on May 10, and we remember vibraphonist Dave Samuels.
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Roger Humphries with Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters
PITTSBURGH, PA—April 29, 2019— Pittsburgh jazz great Roger Humphries, will be conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during West Virginia Wesleyan College’s 128th Commencement on May 4, 2019.
Roger Humphries stated, “I am thrilled with this unexpected honor from West Virginia Wesleyan College. As a musician and an educator, I have great respect for the work at this institution. Many thanks to WV Wesleyan College and to my friend, Dr. James Moore.”
He rose to national prominence because of his work with jazz legend Horace Silver and others in the mid-1960s. He recorded with Silver on three of his most famous recordings, Jody Grind, Cape Verdean Blues, and Song for my Father. He has since worked with countless jazz luminaries and is an internationally acclaimed artist in his own right.
Returning to Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood to raise his family, Roger quickly became active in philanthropy and community engagement. His annual “Boat Ride” jazz cruise aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper has raised funds for various initiatives. Born out of a desire to support the North Side Spartans Athletic Association in order to fund a football and baseball program in the absence of public funds to support it, the “Boat Ride” grew throughout the course of the late 70s early 80s. While it started by raising only a few hundred dollars here and there, its reach has evolved considerably, and a myriad of neighborhood projects were funded, including purchasing instruments for children who could not afford quality gear and materials. Recognizing that many of his students needed assistance in order to gain access to college attendance, Humphries made the decision to turn the event’s resources towards creating a scholarship, which has even extended to students attending West Virginia Wesleyan College.
For nearly six decades, Roger Humphries has mentored, taught, and shaped generations of jazz musicians in and around Pittsburgh, including multiple students from West Virginia Wesleyan College. He was the first, and longest serving, percussion instructor at Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts high school (CAPA), and his students have gone on to achieve national and international acclaim in jazz and commercial idioms.
Humphries’ dedication to education can be seen outside of the classroom as well. He has maintained a regular jam session, with his band serving as the core of this experience, for over thirty years. For most of these three decades, the session happened weekly, and Roger has always opened his stage to young students of the music.
James H. Moore, PhD., Dean of the Faculty and Chief Academic Officer states, “I’m beyond thrilled that West Virginia Wesleyan College is honoring Roger Humphries for his contributions. As a jazz educator, I and our students have been personally impacted by the teachings and artistry of Mr. Humphries. West Virginia Wesleyan College has always placed a high value on jazz, and it’s fitting that we recognize Mr. Humphries in this way. I consider Roger a personal mentor, having been fortunate enough to be a member of his bands, off and on, since 2003. It’s been incredibly meaningful for me to see my own students from Wesleyan get the chance to share the stage with him and learn from one of the true masters of this music, as I have been able to do.”