On Saturday, June 30, 2012, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park hosted Eleventh Annual Don Redman Heritage Awards & Concert. This year’s event featured master jazz alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson and legendary bassist Ben Tucker.
Ben Tucker was born in Nashville, Tennessee. At 12-years-old he began to dive into music with the trumpet and eventually the bass. He performed with Herbie Mann, Billy Taylor, Buddy Rich, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, Gerry Mulligan, Ellis Marsalis, and Sam Cook. He wrote more than 300 compositions. Tucker has been rewarded and nationally celebrated by his appointment to the Advisory Committee of the Kennedy Center for the Arts by President Jimmy Carter. Tucker stays busy with his career as an artist and businessman. He has been regular player in Savannah, Georgia and is active in the city’s artistic, cultural, and economic scene. Tucker has played an integral role in business and other matters affecting the minority community in Savannah and making the national and international festival scene with the excellent Ben Tucker Trio.
Lou Donaldson’s was introduced to the clarinet by his mother. His mother realized Donaldson had a sharp ear for music. He played in high school, college and for the U.S. Navy, and eventually transferred to the alto saxophone. Donaldson was inspired by Charlie Parker and was encouraged to invent his unique style. Donaldson moved to new York City and worked as a bandleader with Blue Note Records in 1952.
The Don Redman award is named after Don Redman of piedmont, West Virginia who was a wellknown musician and came to Harpers Ferry to study music at Storer College. Graduating in 1920 Redman went out into the world where his talent was instantly recognized. He became known as “The Little Giant of Jazz,” the first great arranger in jazz history. Until his death in 1964, Redman continued to have a profound influence on the evolution, direction and development of this uniquely American art form.
The Don Heritage Awards are presented annually and is based on contributions in jazz education and music as well as individual musicianship, humanity and dignity that illuminate the spirit of Don Redman.