VICKSBURG – (AP) – One of Vicksburg’s music legends will be honored Aug. 4 with a concert, discussion panel and art exhibit.
The Vicksburg Blues Society and Vicksburg Heritage League are hosting the Fourth Annual Hank Jones Memorial Concert and Festival from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at Vicksburg City Auditorium, said event organizer Shirley Waring.
Jones was a jazz pianist and composer whose 70-year career included a stint as Ella Fitzgerald’s pianist and Marilyn Monroe’s accompanist when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.
Jones was born in Vicksburg on July 31, 1918. He died in 2010 in New York. He recorded more than 60 albums under his own name and played as a sideman on hundreds of other albums, Warning said.
“He was absolutely very prominent in American jazz,” she said.
The event begins with an art exhibit at 5 p.m. featuring paintings of Jones and other Mississippi music icons by Vicksburg artist Eric Bo Jones and art students at Vicksburg Senior Center, Waring said.
Following the art exhibit will be a panel discussion and music featuring the Andy Hardwick Trio.
“The interesting thing about all this is Andy Hardwick is also from Vicksburg and is listed on the Mississippi Blues Trail markers in front of the B.B. Club. He was one of the Red Tops,” Waring said.
When Hank Jones was still a child, his family moved to Pontiac, Mich., where at 13 he began performing music. He recorded his first album in the 1940s.
Throughout his career, Jones was respected by his fellow musicians for his elegant touch, melodic sensitivity and stylistic versatility, making hundreds of recordings, including more than 60 as a leader. He played with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Wes Montgomery, Nancy Wilson, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie.
In the 1970s, Jones was conductor for the Broadway musical “Ain’t Misbehavin”’ based on the music of Fats Waller.
“That’s what really got him out in front of a very wide audience in New York. That catapulted his career again,” Waring said.
In 1989, the National Endowment for the Arts honored Jones with the Jazz Masters Award, and in 2003 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers presented him with the Jazz Living Legend Award.
In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush.
He was presented a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2009.