Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Day With Mr. Jazz - Jack McCray

The talented stars of the Holy City Homecomin’ Tuesday night at The Footlight Players Theatre Tuesday evening were Gradual Lean and Clay Ross’ Matuto.

They played great and the packed room really felt the magic.

But the behind-the-scenes driving force was Jack McCray.

It was his evening, his day, his week and his 30th year of being Mr. Jazz in Charleston.

This year he led the creation of the JAC - Jazz Artists of Charleston. This is his third successful gathering of talent and businesses to make things happen.

I’ve known Jack for years as the hip music writer at The Post and Courier and editor of neighborhood editions of the paper. Jack is my go-to man when I have questions about music: the Blues, Jazz, you name it. The man knows his stuff.

My Day With McCray started in Philadelphia Alley, next to the Footlight Theatre on Queen Street, when we participated in the afternoon interactive rhythmic workshop presented by Clay Ross and members of his group. It was a moving experience. No, I mean it, we REALLY moved around.

Then we climbed the stairs and met in a room over the Theatre and Jack regaled us with a vivid recap of his 30-year musical odyssey in Charleston jazz awareness and growth.

He is a great storyteller and took questions from the rapt audience.

After a break for a bite to eat, I was back for the 7:30 performance of The Homecomin’. Naturally, Jack McCray was the Master of Ceremonies.

A beautiful day in our seaside city with a man who continues to turn his vision into reality.

I'm pleased to be a SPO-Jo Citizen Journalist during this 17-day Spoleto Piccolo Festival of the Arts. My badge lets me look a little deeper into events and I try to share what I find. Check ALL the Festival coverage at www.spoletotoday.com.

(Thanks to Gradual Lean: Lee Barbour, Kebbie Williams, Etienne Charles, Kevin Hamilton, Quentin Baxter and Clay Ross and his group Matuto: Itai Kriss, Rob Hecht, Tim Keiper, Edward Perez.)

Click on the photos for more detail.

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