When her father, James "Pappy" Martin, died in 2015, Dawn Martin Berry-Walker carried on with his lifelong efforts of spreading the joy of jazz throughout Buffalo. That mission has brought about several events, including Thursday night's birthday tribute to the great John Coltrane at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
Berry-Walker says her father earned a reputation as a musician and a band leader who played with many legends, including Aretha Franklin. He also opened a music school that helped to expose many students to jazz. His death put that history in the balance, prompting Berry-Walker to begin the Pappy Martin Legacy Jazz Society.
"We want to continue to educate and groom an audience ...to make sure this art form stays alive in Buffalo," Berry-Walker said.
It's an ambitious undertaking. For years, her father produced the Masten Jazz Festival. That summer tradition continues now as the Pappy Martin Legacy Masten Jazz Festival.
Her father also produced a Coltrane birthday celebration each fall. With a boost from the Burchfield Penney Art Center, that celebration continues Thursday at 7 p.m.
"I think John Coltrane's significance and importance to me comes from the fact that he represented such a freedom and I imagine it may have been the case for many people at a time when things weren't so free," Berry-Walker said.
Saxophonist Vincent Herring will perform with the George Caldwell Quartet at the Burchfield event.