Honoring Ed Kelly: A Visual and Musical Tribute to an Oakland Treasure
On November 2, 2012, the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music will honor the memory, life, music and contributions of Ed Kelly will honor the memory, life, music and contributions of Ed Kelly, a legendary musician and teacher from Oakland. OPC has named its main concert hall Ed Kelly Hall in honor of Mr. Kelly's deep roots in the community and his commitment to teaching and mentoring young musicians. During his more than 50-year career, he performed with such Jazz legends like John Handy, Cecil McBee, Michael White, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson and Ray Drummond.
Ed Kelly was a professor of music at Laney College for over 25 years and mentored scores of developing musicians at jazz camps and workshops. Pharoah Sanders, a close friend and musical collaborator of Kelly's summed up his life this way: "He's a genius and a great person. He could have been a superstar if he wanted, but he chose to help other musicians here. I'm one of them. He's why I'm here."
To celebrate his life and the principles he lived by, Angela Wellman, founding director of OPC, commissioned award-winning visual artist, James Gayles, to create a mural that celebrates Kelly's life in music in Oakland, the city he loved and to which he dedicated his work in music. Gayles is the recipient of a City of Oakland Cultural Arts grant with which he created "JazzMasters," a work created to pay tribute to Oakland's Local Jazz musicians who gained world recognition. Having relocated from New York, Gayles was unfamiliar with the Bay Area music scene. He solicited the help of the very knowledgeable KPFA and KCSM jazz DJ Greg Bridges who told him, "Oh man, you got to do Ed Kelly". Gayles says he soon discovered that Kelly was "a legendary giant who influenced and mentored generations of great musicians to come out of the Bay Area. He was an extraordinary musician and educator who possessed the talent to become an international star, but chose to stay in Oakland to raise his family rather than go out on the road. Countless young Bay Area musicians were the beneficiaries of that decision. Ed Kelly was indeed an Oakland treasure and I am honored to be a part of this well deserved tribute."
Gayles, an Emmy award winning artist who studied at the Pratt Institute with Jacob Lawrence, says he hopes to create an emotional spark in those who view his work by capturing, "...the power and emotion, the essence of the human." The portrait will be unveiled before the evening of music begins.
Michelle Rosewoman, an Oakland native and internationally celebrated musician, is the featured guest artist. With more than 30 years performing, Rosewoman stands out as a visionary pianist, composer, bandleader and gifted performer. She attributes her traditionally rooted but wide open vision of music to the time she spent studying with Ed Kelly. Rosewoman, now based in New York City, has played with Jimmy Heath, Billy Hart, Celia Cruz, Reggie Workman, Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill, James Spaulding, Paquito D'Rivera, Gary Bartz, Rufus Reid, Howard Johnson, Carlos Ward, Andy Gonzalez, Pedro Martinez and many, many more. She flies into Oakland with great joy to honor her teacher, Ed Kelly. Of her participation Rosewoman remarked, "I am really so pleased that you asked me to be part of this honoring of my mentor and my love, Ed--and that I can contribute to your efforts at this school. Looking forward to everything."
Ed Kelly Hall is located in the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music
in downtown Oakland, CA, 1616 Franklin St.
Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (View)
1616 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94612
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