Established in 1992, the Annual East Coast Jazz Festival (ECJF) provides an opportunity for the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Fund, Inc. (FMJS) to present live jazz music to the community (encouraging the attendance of children), as well as an avenue to hold the final selection round for FMJS Jazz Scholarship Awards to emerging artists. The late Elmore "Fish" Middleton was a Washington DC jazz radio programmer who was committed to promoting jazz and supporting emerging artists. The mission of FMJS is to assist emerging artists throughout the nation in their educational and artistic development; offer a wider base for the presentation of jazz; and insure the continuation of jazz education and performance in public schools and institutions of higher learning. The FMJS culminates with the ECJF, this year held on February 12-15 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Rockville, Maryland. The following photographs are but a snapshot of over 75 performances and workshops from this monumental event.
President and founder of the Fish Middleton Jazz Scholarship Organization, Ronnie Wells. Ms. Wells has shared the stage with Billy Ekstine, Lonnie Liston Smith, Clark Terry and Jimmy Witherspoon, to name a few. She has toured and performed throughout the world including Holland, Switzerland, France, Norway, Montreal and South America. Her latest recording on Jazz Karma Records is called "Mostly Ballads". Ronnie Wells has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland since 1983.
Ron Elliston has performed in nightclubs and concerts internationally including Carnegie Hall and the New Orleans Jazz Festival where he accompanied Benny Carter and Sarah Vaughan. He has recorded on Columbia Records and the Jazz Karma label. Ron is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland where he teaches both classical and jazz piano. Steve Abshire accompanied well known vocalists Della Reese, Joe Williams, and Diane Schurr. He's performed with Herb Ellis, Stanley Turrentine, The Charlie Byrd Trio, and the "Great Guitars" as a substitute for Barney Kessel. Steve has many recordings to his credit including several with Ronnie Wells and Ron Elliston.
Buster Williams has performed on over 400 recordings, including eight as a band leader. He's performed for three decades in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Buster has played with the greats, including Chet Baker, Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock Carmen McRea and many more. Williams teaches jazz improvisation at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Jon Metzger described by Jazz Times Magazine as "a new star vibist" and a winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Fellowship for Performance, Jon Metzger has appeared at jazz clubs and festivals throughout the world. He's led his quartet on a tour of Europe and performed for dignitaries and heads of state as a jazz ambassador throughout the world under the auspices of the U.S. Information Agency's Arts America Program. Metzger now heads the percussion department at Elon College (NC) and teaches at North Carolina School of the Arts.
Keter Betts conducts a workshop called "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Bass". Keter Betts performed with Dinah Washington, Cannonball Adderly, Charlie Byrd, Stan Getz and Tommy Flanagan. He was bassist for Ella Fitzgerald with whom he had been affiliated for many years. He can be heard on dozens of recordings. Betts has designed an educational music program for young adults.
Mulgrew Miller joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, under Mercer Ellington, and later earned the piano chair in bands led by Woody Shaw, Betty Carter, Art Blakey and Tony Williams. Named the most in-demand pianists according to a poll of musicians in the New York Times Magazine, and the legendary Hank Jones, in the same issue, pegged him among his five top favorites.
Jimmy Heath performs and conducts The Jimmy Heath Big Band. Saxophonist, composer, educator, Jimmy Heath has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, including Howard McGee, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Wynton Marsalis. Heath has performed on over 100 albums, composed over 100 songs, extended works, suites, string quartets and a symphonic work (Three Ears). He has conducted workshops and clinics all over the world. In 1997 was awarded the Life Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America.
Howard Burns received his degree from Howard University and graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Belgium, and has performed with Weather Report, Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Jimmy Heath. Released his first CD, "Emblem" in 1993.
Charles "Rahmat" Woods has performed flute with Roy Haynes, Don Cherry, Helen Humes and many others in the Central New York and Washington DC areas. He has recorded on numerous labels and leads contemporary ensembles that perform a variety of jazz and original compositions. Woods wrote and recorded the music for D.C.'s first Hispanic salsa video, "Columbia Road".
Etta Jones has performed and/or recorded with numerous greats, including Earl "Fatha" Hines, Jack McDuff, Kenny Burrell, and Cedar Walton. Ms. Jones earned a gold record for her Prestige recording "Don't Go To Strangers", and received a Grammy nomination in 1981 for her album "Save Your Love For Me", and the Eubie Blake Jazz Award in 1982.
Ernie Andrews was discovered at age 17 after winning an amateur contest in Los Angeles. Ernie Andrews immediately went into the studio to record "Sooth Me" which sold over 300,000 copies. He's recorded 20 plus albums for major labels. Andrews traveled worldwide as vocalist for Harry James and his orchestra, and has played with the greats such as Cannonball Adderly, Louis Belson, Kenny Burrell and "Big" Joe Turner.
Ron Kerns, saxophonist/educator/producer, has led high school and professional bands in the Baltimore-Washington area for over twenty years, with his groups appearing at Blues Alley, the Kennedy Center, and throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kerns has produced many recordings and performed with several Washington-based bands, including the Rick Henderson Big Band. James King is an arranger, program coordinator, and musical director. He's performed with Esther Phillips, David "Fathead" Newman, Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller to name a few. King has also recorded with Hilton Felton, Ron Elliston, and Ronnie Wells.
Allison Bennett, a native of Queens, NY, studied clarinet for two years and changed to vocals at age 12 with the Queens Village School of Music. Attended University of Maryland College Park and joined the University's Gospel Choir. While at UM, registered for the UM Jazz Piano/Vocal Workshop under the instruction of Ron Elliston and Ronnie Wells. Continues to study voice and sings locally and in the Baltimore, MD area.
After playing with Bobby Watson's group for five years, Terell Stafford's debut recording "Time to Let Go", gained critical and popular success. He has performed with Branford Marsalis, Herbie Mann, Shirly Scott, and Kenny Barron. In great demand as a trumpet clinician, Stafford is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Temple University. His newest recording on Candid is titled "Centripetal Force".
Ronnie James is a free-lance jazz photographer from the Washington, D.C. area. Among all of Ronnie's projects he also works part-time as a staff photographer for The Jazz Review. James' latest published work appears in the December 1998 issues of DOWN BEAT and JAZZ TIMES Magazines. You can email Ronnie with any questions or comments at: