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Monday, July 23, 2012

Chatting with Charlotte's jazz diva, Tammy Greene

Jazz is a dying art to some, but not the Jazz Diva, Tammy Greene. If you've been to a jazzy affair in the Queen City and had a good time, you probably owe Greene a hand clap of thanks. Greene spoke with me about her quest to make Charlotte a jazzier place.

What made you decide to make Charlotte a jazzier place? 

Jazz music is a passion for me. with all that goes on around me, its the one thing that makes me happy when i hear it.  I have always been a music lover, specifically jazz.  In my hometown of Philadelphia, a person could find live music happening 7 days a week!  when i moved to Charlotte in 1997, there weren't many options for live jazz.  In 1997, my 2 sons moved here with me, so I did not have time to go out and explore the music scene.  In 2005, while working for The Vanguard Group (which is how I relocated here) two of my co-workers mentioned that thy were going to open a jazz restaurant offering dinner and live music.  I though, here's my chance!  I asked could I book the entertainment, and the rest is history!

I began booking local, regional and national artists from Pieces Of A Dream to Jean Luc Ponty!  When The Jazz Cafe decided to change their concept, i still received calls from artists asking to play in Charlotte and jazz fans who wondered, "where will we go to enjoy live music? So, I began looking for other venues to host jazz events and also started the Carolina Jazz Friends, a meetup group to keep jazz lovers informed about event happenings. The Carolina jazz Friends is the largest "jazz" meetup group in the world!(according to  Many of the people who follow my shows are smooth/contemporary jazz lovers, so most people think that I only love smooth jazz.  As much as I enjoy smooth jazz, I am a traditional jazz lover at heart. 

         Who are some of your favorite jazz artists –classic and contemporary?

       Whoa, so many favorites!  For classic and modern jazz, my favorites are John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal , Teri Lyne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride, Robert Glasper.. whew, too many to name! My favorite smooth/contemporary artists are, Norman Brown, Alex Bugnon, Gerald Albright, The Rippingtons, The Yellowjackets, Fourplay, again, too many to name!

               Tell the readers about your radio show.
     What’s interesting is that I come from a radio family as three out of five brothers are in the radio industry in Philadelphia, but i never thought i would be the fourth member of the family on the air!  Some of the feedback I received from jazz lovers was the concern of not being able to listen to jazz on the radio 24/7 in the Charlotte area.  Yes, there were jazz stations and shows on the airwaves at one time, but eventually went away.  My brother introduced me to Cathis Hall who is the General Manager of Gaston College radio.  I expressed interest in doing a jazz radio show, but mentioned that I did not have experience.  She told me that all DJ's were volunteers and that I had to go through a six-week class to "possibly" fill in for other DJ's, but she could not promise a jazz show.  After a couple of months of begging a pleading, she decided to give jazz a shot.  That was four years ago!!!!  Now, Jerry L has a smooth jazz show on each night from 9-11 p.m. Monday -Thursday, and I come in two Sundays a month for the Jazz Cafe radio show on Sundays from 9 a.m. - noon.   I play more classic to modern jazz on that show.  WSGE allows us to play more of our local artist like, Jon Thornton, Queens Collective, Ron Brendle along with some of our local smooth jazz artists like Innertwyned, Shableek and Buff Dillard.

         When’s the Queen City’s next jazz event?
       I have so many great things coming in the fall.  The 4th annual Carolina jazz concert series starts August 12th with Peter White, Keiko Matsui will be here in September 29th, and Richard Elliott on December 8th.  An event that I’m really excited about is an upcoming "big band" jazz series.  I’m REALLY excited about that.  I’m partnering with my good friend, Bassist John Brown who is the Director of Jazz studies at Duke University, and The Jazz Arts Initiative.  We have some GREAT guest artists coming in for the series!

          How can jazz fans keep up with you? 

           Most people keep up with me via my website which is 
           or on Facebook at“The Jazz diva.”

1 comment:

Fortunaire said...

When I moved to Charlotte from Jersey (metro-NYC area), I thought I'd be giving-up Jazz as a source of cultural entertainment. Thanx to Tammy, living in metro-Charlotte is that much more enjoyable. I ca't thank her enough!