Oral Histories

Do you have interesting remembrances, stories or anecdotes to share about Charleston or South Carolina African American and other jazz musicians who trained at the Jenkins Orphanage, Avery Normal Institute or other Charleston and South Carolina institutions? If so, contact us at (843) 953-5474 or chandlerk@cofc.edu.  The following is a list of select CJI oral history interviewees.

Elmore Browne, February 2004

Sullivan’s Island, SC
Graduate of Avery; knew Charlestonians and jazz musicians, Lonnie Simmons and cousin, George Thayer

Felder Hutchinson, February 2004

Graduate of Avery; community historian of Charleston’s social history

Jack White (1920-2006), February 2004

North Charleston
Advocate and producer of jazz and other music and social events in Charleston; knew Freddie Green and Count Basie

Philip Simmons (b. 1912), February 2004
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Internationally-recognized blacksmith who knew Jenkins Orphanage Band members in early-mid 20th century

Wolfram Knauer, June 2005

Darmstadt, Germany
Director, Jazz-Institut Darmstadt, Germany; his archive is the largest public jazz repository in Europe; maintains significant secondary source material on Charleston musicians; CJI Circle Member

Jeffrey Green, June 2005

West Sussex, UK
Biographer of Edmund Thornton Jenkins: The Life and Times of An American Black Composer, 1894-1926; CJI Circle Member

Harleston Fleming, July 2005

Member of prominent Harleston family in Charleston; composer, arranger and pianist; retired high school and college educator

Rollins Edwards (b. 1922), July 2005
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Summerville, SC
Drummer; alumnus of the Count Basie, Buddy Johnson and Willie Jackson bands; danced at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City; first African American elected to the Dorchester County Council and later the Summerville Town Council

Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim, July 2005

Copenhagen, Denmark and Charleston
Percussionist; alumnus of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the Thad Jones Orchestra and bands led by James Moody and John Coltrane; created the Latin Jazz Quintet with four of Denmark’s top jazz musicians; mother was from Charleston; recently returned to Charleston, his “ancestral home”; CJI Circle Member

Jonathan Bloom, November 2005

New Orleans, LA
Jazz educator and percussionist; music educator, New Orleans Public Schools; directed the New Orleans All City Jazz Outreach; is family member of the Chatters, a Charleston family

Clifton Smalls (b. 1918), January 2006
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Brooklyn, NY
Pianist; native Charlestonian; former member of the Carolina Cotton Pickers; relief piano player for Earl “Fatha” Hines; recorded with, and served as musical director for the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, Billy Eckstine, Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr.; referred to as a “veritable jazz treasure” by Clarence Atkins in “A Jazzman in Brooklyn” written for The Black World Today (February 14, 2003).

A.B. Spellman, June 2006
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Washington, DC
Poet, critic and author; former Deputy Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts; author of Art Tatum: A Critical Biography and Four Lives in the Bebop Business; CJI Circle Member

Larry Ridley, June 2006

New York, NY
Bassist; Executive Director of the African American Jazz Caucus, Inc., an affiliate of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE); Jazz Artist in Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Artistic Director of the Jazz Legacy Ensemble; Professor of Music, Emeritus, Rutgers University; CJI Circle Member

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