By Woodrow Wilkins, Jr.

Delta Democrat Times Newspaper
Greenville, Mississippi

September 21, 2005

Myers & Biaoni
Bill Johnson, Photographer, Greenville, MS
Dr. Ron Myers on trumpet with Shaw, MS native, Terry Biaoni, recipient of the
2005 Mississippi Jazz & Heritage Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, on piano.

(GREENVILLE, MS) - The Delta loves its blues, but another form of music also has roots here.

Jazz has a lengthy history in the region, Dr. Ronald Myers told members of the Greenville Kiwanis Club on Tuesday.

"Mississippi, especially the Delta, has a rich jazz legacy that needs to be shared with the younger generation as a true American art treasure," he said.

He singled out Shelby native Gerald Wilson, calling him the greatest jazz composer in the world.

"When you think of jazz composers, you think of Duke Ellington," Myers said. "And in the second breath, you think of Gerald Wilson."

He also praised Greenwood native Mulgrew Miller as one of the greatest jazz pianists in the world.

"Lester Young, who was born in Woodville, Miss., was the father of the modern jazz saxophone," Myers said. "Judge Milt Hinton, born in Vicksburg, is the father of the modern jazz bass."

Before the meeting, Myers entertained Kiwanians with two classics, "Misty" and "Summertime." Playing piano, he was joined by Greenville saxophonist Aaron Smith. Another Greenville saxophonist, Leonard McIntosh, plays regularly with Myers' band, which performs weekly at the Ramada Inn.

During his presentation, Myers also awarded David Biaoni, a jazz pianist who was born in Shaw but has lived in Greenville about 40 years, with Mississippi Jazz and Heritage Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award.

After the meeting, Biaoni said the honor means a lot. He credited a school teacher, Rita McGee, with getting him started on playing keyboard instruments.

"She showed me left-hand work," he said.

Biaoni performs in the Greenville area with the All-Star Trio, which also features Ralph Marrow on bass and Hal Holbrook on drums.

Myers used his presentation to call on civic organizations to help raise community interest in jazz.

"Its important for organizations like Kiwanis to support jazz in their community so that we can get young people to play jazz," he said.

Myers said he hopes to bring in a big band for the 2006 Jazz Festival. Among the targeted groups are jazz ensembles at DSU and Jackson State University.

One benefit of that would be for young people to learn what they can do, he said.


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