Jazz came alive at the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce’s annual Juneteenth Business Awards Luncheon in the heart of the historic Fillmore District at the West Bay Conference Center.
< p> Themed “Celebrating the Journey, Advancing the Cause,” hosts Janice Edwards and Sonny Buxton helped the chamber honor jazz greats of the past and present.
Honorees included the legendary Alley Brothers; drummer and bandleader Eddie Alley; and bassist Vernon Alley who performed with Count Basie and Billie Holiday among others.
Together the duo integrated the musicians’ union in San Francisco and the Bohemian Club, living well into their nineties.
“We are so grateful for the chamber’s recognition of our father, Eddie and Uncle Vernon,” said Lisa Alley.
“Our lives are so enriched by music and my dad lived a life improving the lives for the community and black musicians,” said Phillip Alley.
“The Alley Brothers were great mentors and like uncles to me,” said Sonny Buxton.
The chamber’s office manager, Xochitl Jackson, accepted a Jazz Heritage Award in honor of her father vibraphonist, Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Jazz bassist John Handy received a Jazz Heritage Award, with his wife Dale.
“This is a great occasion, and I’m so glad to be here to celebrate with my colleagues,” said Handy.
Greg Bridges accepted a Jazz Heritage Award on behalf of his father, Jazz Drummer Oliver Johnson.
Performances included the Oakland Youth Jazz Band with Vocalist Leah Dobson and the Barry Dow Jazz Band. Local favorite Faye Carol performed and was awarded for her contributions to the world of jazz.
Business leaders were also awarded, including San Francisco City and County Senior Advisor Theo Miller for efforts when the chamber launched a boycott against the city’s tourism industry.
“Theo was very focused on the needs of the African American community and the disparity in the city when we launched the boycott on the San Francisco tourism industry earlier this year. We applaud him for his assistance with the City and tourism board,” said chamber President Fred Jordan.
Small Business Exchange publisher Gerald Johnson received the Lifetime Achievement Award.