Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Jim Widner wins 2018 "Jazz Hero" award from Jazz Journalists Association

The Jazz Journalists Association has named Jim Widner of St. Louis as one of its local "Jazz Heroes" for 2018.

In a press release announcing the award, the JJA defines Jazz Heroes as "advocates, altruists, activists, aiders and abettors of jazz who have had significant impact in their local communities.” There are 22 individuals in this year's group of award winners, chosen from 20 cities across the USA.

A bassist, bandleader and educator, Widner (pictured) has worked with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Woody Herman Big Band, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Buddy DeFranco, as well as leading his own Jim Widner Big Band. Building on his experience working for Kenton, he founded and has run his own summer jazz camps for more than 30 years, with annual sessions in St. Louis and Omaha, NE. Widner has served since 2003 as director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, where in 2004 he also founded the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival.

Widner is the fourth St. Louisan to win the "Jazz Hero" award. The late Don Wolff, a longtime jazz broadcaster, MC, and advocate for the music, won in 2015; Dennis Owsley - author, photographer, and host of "Jazz Unlimited" on St. Louis Public Radio - was a winner in 2016; and Richard Henderson, mentor to many young St. Louis musicians and an impresario and presenter with the local organization Crusaders for Jazz, won in 2017.

The JJA award will be presented to Widner in a ceremony in St. Louis, details TBA.

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