WHPK crew celebrates jazz for Black History Month at I-House

Assistant to the Editor

WHPK will host its Third Annual Black History Month Celebration Saturday, Feb. 8, at International House, 1414 E. 59th St.

The program, entitled “Our Gift to the World,” begins at 7:30 p.m. and includes the presentation of the WHPK REACH Award and performances by the Hanah Jon Taylor Artet. Videos of interviews with jazz musicians Kenny Barron, Bobby Watson and Gregory Porter will also be screened.

The yearly celebration is the brainchild of WHPK’s Jazz Format hosts, according to Jazz Format chief Yamaide, the DJ for the station’s fortnightly program, “Straight Ahead Jazz.”

The inspiration for the event, Yamaide said, came at a jazz format meeting where “we were talking about how none of us had ever seen jazz acknowledged during Black History Month.”

The program begins each year with the reading of Congress’ 1987 resolution which declares jazz a “national treasure,” Yamaide added.

Yamaide says the REACH Award, first given last year, is presented to those who have done work to advance jazz as well as the community, though the recipient must not always be a musician themselves. The late pianist Ken Chaney, who headlined last year’s event, will posthumously receive the 2013 REACH Award.

This year’s headline performances feature two music sets by the four-piece Hanah Jon Taylor Artet, including Madison, Wisc. wind instrumentalist Taylor and pianist Willie Pickens.

Yamaide calls Taylor, whom she has known for more than 30 years, “one of the most gifted jazz musicians I know.”

Taylor’s “music can be a little more innovative than the mainstream jazz listener is equipped to grasp,” she said. “And that’s the beauty of the collaboration with Willie Pickens. They pull each other in their respective directions and it’s quite magical.”

For more information, call 773-350-2144. VIP tickets are $25 and general admission is $10. Tickets, which will be on sale at the door, can also be purchased in advance by e-mailing info@whpkjazz.org or visiting whpk.org.