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Conyers Jazzed Up the Capitol

John Edward Hasse, Ph.D
 

By John Edward Hasse (Original source WSJ)

“Jazz has lost a friend and champion. Within the arts community, longtime Rep. John Conyers, who died Sunday at 90, was regarded as one of the most persistent and influential advocates of this uniquely American music. I knew him for more than 30 years, working together on jazz initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution. We bonded over the genre, which he championed as a proud product of African-American and American culture. Sometimes he would invite me to his office to talk about the music, and he spoke frequently at the Smithsonian, including (to my everlasting gratitude) at my 2017 retirement party.

Though Conyers’s hometown of Detroit became synonymous with Motown soul music, his ears were drawn to jazzier sounds. A onetime student cornetist, he revered saxophonists Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Visitors to his congressional office were greeted by walls filled with jazz posters and a big acoustic bass dominating one corner.”

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