John Handy To Receive Beacon Award From San Francisco Jazz Festival

On Sunday, November 1, 2009, the San Francisco Jazz Festival will present saxophonist John Handy with its Beacon Award. The ceremony will take place as part of a tribute concert at the Herbst Theatre. The award is given to someone in the Bay area community who has made a signification contribution “in preserving jazz traditions and fostering the growth of jazz in the Bay Area.” Previous recipients of the award include Philip Elwood, Eddie Marshall, Mary Stallings, Pete Escovedo and JT contributor Rebeca Mauleón.

Handy is perhaps best known for his jazz hit “Hard Work” in the ’70s but he has had a long career in jazz as a bandleader and educator. He was a member of the bands of Charles Mingus for a two year period during the late ’50s and returned to play with Mingus for various gigs and projects. Handy has released over a dozen recordings as a leader including Quote Unquote for Roulette, Hard Work for Impulse, and Centerpiece for Milestone. Handy settled into life in the Bay area, where he has been a full-time educator at San Francisco State University.

In a press release provided to JT, Randall Kline, founder of the festival and executive director of SFJazz, said:

“More than an apt and deserving recipient of the SFJAZZ Beacon Award, alto saxophone legend John Handy embodies all of the best attributes of the honor. One of the most innovative and visionary altoists in the post-bop era, he has become a magnet for fellow artists looking to explore new creative ground. From his galvanizing work with Charles Mingus in the late ’50s and his star-making triumph at the 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival, through his pioneering world music collaborations with Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and his hit 1976 R&B album Hard Work, Handy has blazed a brilliant trail as an improvisor, composer, bandleader and educator. Offering a potent reminder of his enduring influence, just this year the prestigious label Mosaic released a box set of the altoist’s classic quintet recordings.”

Performing at the tribute concert with Handy will be many of his long-time associates and admirers, including Don Thompson, Terry Clarke, Dave Matthews, Jeff Chambers and Kenny Washington.