Stevie Wonder Comes to Highland Jazz

jazz logo The first John Coltrane Memorial Concert took place on July 17, 1977; since then  it has developed into a Boston tradition. I attended several of the early concerts and came to appreciate the playing of Leonard Brown, one of the founders of the series.

I talked to him about doing a concert for Highland Jazz and he proposed the idea of a jazz tribute to Stevie Wonder performed by “A Joyful Noise Band” with special guest Armsted Christian on vocals and reeds. I asked Eric Jackson of WGBH-FM if he would be the MC and he enthusiastically agreed. Once again we rented the hall at the Andover-Newton Theological School. The acoustics weren’t great but the hall could accommodate a larger crowd than our usual venue, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. We were optimistic that the program would bring in jazz fans as well as fans of Stevie’s music. We weren’t wrong.

As far as I know no one recorded the concert. That’s a shame- I would really like to hear again how the band jazzed up the following tunes-


A Tribute to Stevie Wonder

Where are they now?

Leonard Brown is an Associate Professor of Music and African-American Studies at Northeastern University. He has written a book entitled  John Coltrane and Black America’s Quest for Freedom, Spirituality, and the Music. He continues to perform with his quartet “Joyful Noise.”  In this video he talks about his philosophy of education. Listen to excerpts from five tunes from his album Suns of Sons.

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