Trombonist Bob Connors' conviction that the pioneers of jazz are "sadly neglected" was recently reaffirmed when he asked some graduates of a college course in jazz history what ground they had covered and was told, "Oh, we went all the way back to the beginning--to 1936." In an effort to rectify this oversight, Connors takes his Boston-based New Yankee Rhythm Kings all over New England for concerts at museums, art galleries, universities and schools ("All the way down to kindergarten").
"We play for a lot of people who have never heard this kind of music, and we talk about the times in which it evolved and about the artists. We point out that King Oliver was the first black band leader to make successful recordings of jazz and that Jelly Roll Morton was the bridge between small-band jazz in the '20s and big orchestrated bands of the late '30s. Also, we're careful to draw correlations between these artists and those they can identify with. For example, we'll play a piece of Ma Rainey's and mention that she had a big effect on Elvis Presley and that Diana Ross has admitted that one of her big influences was listening to the records of Rainey."
The six-piece traditional jazz band will perform Saturday night from 8 to midnight at the Tysons Corner Holiday Inn. For ticket information call the Potomac River Jazz Club, sponsors of the event, at 532-TRAD.