Jazz festival commemorates Colored Musicians Club's century-long history

Jun 19, 2017

A jazz festival will be held in July that will help celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Colored Musicians Club.

The CMC Jazz Festival lineup was announced at recent news conference downtown.
Credit City of Buffalo

Organizers said the six-day festival will showcase jazz culture in Buffalo while highlighting the important role the club played.

In 1917, eight local black musicians formed their own union. It wasn’t long before Local 533  soon became the Colored Musicians Club.

“Stop and think about what it took for them to become a union back in those early years of segregation,” said George Scott, president of the Colored Musicians Club. “They fought hard and then finally in 1917, they got the right to form their local. I know a lot of those guy s will be looking down today, being very proud and happy that they’re getting recognized like we are today.”

Mayor Brown recently joined downtown leaders to unveil the concert schedule. The events will be held at numerous local venues, including the Colored Musicians Club, Babeville  and Fountain Plaza in downtown Buffalo. The festival will run from July 24th through July 29th and is being sponsored by M&T Bank.

“The fact that we’ll be in several locations around [the city of Buffalo], we want to expose the great music of jazz, and also the great history of what the club is all about,” said Scott.

Michael Schmand is executive director at Buffalo Place, the entity that manages and markets the central business district. Schmand said the event adds excitement and vibrancy to downtown.

“We’re very pleased this year that the Colored Musicians Club are coming back for our second year. Last year they were here to kick off our inaugural season. It was the biggest crowd we had last year, and we’re looking forward to having them back again.”

The events begin on Monday, July 24th with the “Slow Roll Buffalo” and the George Scott Big Band.  Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesday features the Carol McLaughlin Combo and Wednesday provides shows at three locations—Pausa Art House, Fountain Plaza in Downtown Buffalo and Larkin Square.  Grammy- award winning artist George Caldwell headlines Saturday’s outdoor stage and Explore and More provides youthful entertainment in the Kids Tent next to the stage area.

Among the performances this year:

Scott Tixier at The Historic CMC Stage on July 25

“Andre Killian Duo” at Pausa Art House on July 26

“Walter Kemp 3oh!” at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center on July 27

“Otis Brown, III Trio” at Babeville’s 9th Ward on July 27

“A2Z” Zuri Elise Appleby and guitarist Arianna Powell at The Historic CMC Stage on July 28

“The Baylor Project” at Albright Knox on July 29

WBFO's Dominic LoVallo contributed to this report