John Blake, Jr.

2010 Pew Fellow

John Blake, Jr., 2010 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

“I’m constantly developing a younger jazz audience. Hopefully it will arouse more consciousness among audiences and enable them to become more sensitive to diversity, history, and culture.”

John Blake, Jr. (1947–2014) took his inspiration as a contemporary jazz violinist and composer from some of the genre’s greats, having served as a band member for two legendary jazz masters: saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and pianist McCoy Tyner. Born in Philadelphia, Blake was a faculty member at both The University of the Arts and the Manhattan School of Music. He was commissioned in 2005 by Chamber Music America to create a compilation, A Celebration of Fiddle Music from Africa to America, which traced the violin’s history in African and African-American music. His latest work, Motherless Child, features jazz arrangements of traditional Negro spirituals. At the time of his Pew Fellowship award, Blake hoped to raise awareness of Philadelphia’s storied history of jazz and thereby perpetuate the art form. “I’m constantly developing a younger audience,” Blake said. “It is a must to keep jazz alive.” In August 2014, he passed away at age 67.

Billy Taylor Trio (Billy Taylor, piano; Chip Jackson, bass; Winard Harper, drums) with special guest John Blake, Jr. Recorded in January 2001.


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