At Texas Southern

Jazz keeps history alive: Tuskegee Airman who survived a German prison camp honored with music

Jazz keeps history alive: Tuskegee Airman who survived a German prison camp honored with music

Chris Becker, 2012 Jazz Legacy Tour, July 2012
Jazz can make a difference too.
Chris Becker, Jazzy Tribute, July 2012, Claudio Jordan
Claudio Jordan will be at both events. Courtesy Photo
Chris Becker, 2012 Jazz Legacy Tour, July 2012
Chris Becker, Jazzy Tribute, July 2012, Claudio Jordan
Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free, Alexander Jefferson, Chris Becker, Rare Birds

Update: Organizers have canceled both events at the last minute. They will be rescheduled at a later time. For refunds, email POW 44 Legacy at gdgsports@yahoo.com.

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Jazz for a cause? Now, that's a cool groove. 

Saturday at Texas Southern University (TSU) Sawyer Auditorium, The Jazz In Multifaceted Exquisite Events (M.E.E.) group in collaboration with POW 44 Legacy will pay tribute to Tuskegee Airman Lt. Colonel Alexander Jefferson with a night of contemporary jazz and R&B music, featuring award-winning vocalist Phil Perry, chart-topping saxophonist Kim Waters, Jordan Donald and the Leather Pockyt Band, and R&B King Marty. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Ismail B. Robinson Scholarship Fund.

 Throughout the 1940s, as America battled a fascist regime determined to exterminate a race of people based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs, our military was racially segregated. 

The event is in line with The Jazz In M.E.E.'s mission to keep the genre of jazz and its artists in the present, where entertainment serves history. Jefferson will be at Saturday's concert. He'll also be available to meet and converse with in person the night before at a Black and White Sip and Social, 7 p.m. Friday at TSU Alumni Center.

Model, radio and television personality Claudia Jordan will emcee both Friday's social and Saturday's concert.

The Tuskegee Airmen was the popular name for the African-American pilots who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. Jefferson is the author of Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free, a memoir of his wartime experiences as an airman, which included being shot down while on a mission over southern France, getting captured by German ground troops after parachuting out of his plane and being sent to a prisoner of war camp.

It's ironic that throughout the 1940s, as America battled a fascist regime determined to exterminate a race of people based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs, that our military was racially segregated, and African-American soldiers experienced discrimination both within and outside of the U.S. Army.

That irony is not lost on Phil Perry, whose wife's uncle's brother was a Tuskegee Airmen, and who makes it a point to perform at events that combine music with education and historical awareness.

Perry's extensive repertoire includes originals, collaborations with some of the greatest instrumentalists in contemporary jazz, and classic songs from what he calls "the most romantic era of rhythm and blues (R&B) music." While Perry's roots are in R&B, his musical training occurred in Catholic school, singing the mass, Gregorian chants and Western European music. The fusion of the two was, says Perry, "an education."

But be it old school or new, Perry is first and foremost a musician and an entertainer. Given all the great music on the program, celebrating a crucial and fascinating chapter of American history, he is certain that Saturday's audience at Sawyer Auditorium will "leave feeling much differently" than when they first came in.

(A short documentary featuring Lt. Colonel Alexander Jefferson:

A Jazzy Tribute For Lt. Colonel Alexander Jefferson featuring Phil Perry, Kim Waters, Jordan Donald and the Leather Pockyt Band, and R&B King Marty takes place 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Texas Southern University, Sawyer Auditorium. $45 general admission, $50 at the door, $60 VIP. TSU employees $35, TSU alumni $40.

VIP tickets include admission to the Black and White Sip and Social, which is 7 p.m. Friday at Texas Southern University's Alumni Center. Black and White Social tickets are $25 (If you purchase a VIP ticket to the concert, admission is free to this event. Just bring your concert ticket.)

Tickets to both events can be purchased here.