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On the Go (Archive)

Jazz vocalist Lady T to celebrate American art form at North Riverside Library with concert, exhibit; part of Smithsonian project

North Riverside, Ill.

Performing as Lady T, North Riverside’s own Toscanellie Marcelain has been an ambassador for jazz around the world. The former Berwyn resident brings her musical mission back to the North Riverside Public Library with her seventh annual April concert and exhibit — all to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, a national observance promoted by the Smithsonian as a way to preserve one of the country’s original musical genres.

What will your library program feature?
Mostly jazz standards, and, in between the performance, we discuss with the audience some highlights about jazz: the tunes we do, their history and how they happened to be considered standards. This year’s emphasis is women, and the poster girl will be Mary Lou Williams, one of our very important jazz pianists. We’ll probably throw in a couple … songs that I have written. (I’ll be accompanied by) organ, guitar, drums.

How did the annual observance begin?
The Smithsonian started this occasion in 2002. This (is) year 10. They ask musicians all across the United States to support and promote it and to try to have … influence in the performance and perpetuation of jazz music.

You’re committed to preserving jazz.
I did get my fine arts (training) in jazz history and music at Morton College in Cicero. I am a very aggressive promoter of jazz. I started a workshop program (overseas) called ‘Jazz: What I Love About the Music’ (that) I used to do with adults and children. People wanted to talk about jazz history. I involve it in my performance now; we talk about the music and where it comes from, and some of the stories behind it — part of our heritage.

You introduce unversed audiences to the etiquette for live jazz shows.
People who don’t frequent jazz performances get surprised when people start to clap, scream and shout. Because it is a personally improvisational music, your audience has to be involved. It’s like a call and response. When you hear something you like or don’t, you say so (with a) foot stomp or hand clap.

What’s happening on the local jazz front?
A new group is the Chicago Big Band Jazz Society, which is going to be run out of FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. (In addition) to jazz on Sunday evenings, it will incorporate classes and small groups. In August, I’ll do an outdoor (show) for Lyons Township Library, which will be an extension of (Jazz Appreciation Month). I try to do it all year.

Learn more about the artistCheck out venueCatch her next show
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