Lecturer and music educator honored as "Jazz Hero"

For SF State students, San Francisco youth and fellow musicians, John Calloway has long been a hero. Next week, the title becomes official.

The Jazz Journalists Association will honor Calloway as the 2012 Bay Area "Jazz Hero" at a ceremony Wednesday to recognize his decades of work bringing jazz and Latin music to young people. The honor is given to jazz musicians and advocates who have had a significant effect on their local communities. Calloway is one of 15 individuals nationwide selected for the honor.

A photo of SF State lecturer John Calloway.

The Jazz Journalists Association will recognize SF State's John Calloway for his years of work bringing jazz and Latin music to people of all ages and backgrounds.

"I was very pleasantly surprised and humbled when I learned about the award," Calloway said.

Bringing music education to young people from all backgrounds has been at the center of Calloway's career. At SF State, he teaches courses in Latin American music and culture and is the founder and director of the popular Afro-Cuban Jazz Ensemble. He has also taught music for 25 years in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), working with some of the city's most underrepresented students.

Calloway is the director of the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, a San Francisco organization that provides free training and mentorship to musicians age 10 to 17. He is also a clinician at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, a longtime faculty member at Jazz Camp WEST, an Arts Commissioner for the city of San Francisco and an advisory board member for the San Jose Jazz Society and the SFUSD's Arts Education Master Plan.

"Jazz is a true, genuine American art form and ironically, we're not teaching it the way it should be taught in schools," Calloway said. "As kids get into middle and high school, it seems that only the ones who can afford private lessons are most likely to develop a significant jazz skill set. Everything I do is related to music education in some form, making it accessible to children of all ages and socioeconomic levels."

An accomplished musician and composer, Calloway has performed on Grammy-nominated recordings and has worked as an arranger and composer for bands and ensembles across the U.S. Locally, he has led ensembles featuring Bay Area jazz and Latin artists that have performed at major festivals including the Stanford, Monterey and San Jose jazz festivals. Calloway plays flute, piano and percussion.

Calloway will be honored in a special concert and tribute beginning at 6:30 p.m. June 20 at the African American Cultural Arts Complex, located at 62 Fulton Street in San Francisco. The event is free and open to the public.

--Jonathan Morales