Who Are the Three Binghamton Area Jazz Musicians Honored in New Mural?
Splashes of color adorn a building on the corner of Avenue C and Main Street in Johnson City, but this isn't just a random piece of art to admire. This is a piece of art that is meant to educate and honor those who have bettered our community.
The new mural, part of the iDistricts Murals and Mosaics Public Art Program, showcases three individuals with roots in the world of Jazz who had a profound effect on the genre right here in the Binghamton area.
Created by Houston-born 'mural painter, mosaicist, public artist, community art advocate, and educator" J Muzacz, the vivid mural features "The Johnson City Jazz Legends" and those legends are Dena DeRose, Al Hamme, and Leroy Eliot "Slam" Stewart. If you don't know who these incredible people are, it's time to learn about them!
DeRose was born in Binghamton on February 15, 1966. Her father was a construction worker and her mother was a former professional ice skater. DeRose started playing piano when she was three years old and as a teenager, she discovered jazz music. By the time DeRose was 25, she was playing the piano and singing in New York City. Pooling together her own money, DeRose released her first album, Introducing Dena DeRose. Since DeRose has released another five albums. Today, DeRose continues to perform and serves as the Vocal Professor and Head of Jazz Vocals at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria. DeRose also sometimes teaches at summer camps and workshops.
While not a native to Binghamton, Hamme has without a doubt lent his extraordinary talent to the education and musical landscape of this town. Hamme is not only a saxophonist, but also a producer, arranger, and composer. Hamme moved to Binghamton in 1961 to teach music for Union-Endicott schools. In 1964, Hamme founded the jazz program at Harpur College which is now Binghamton University. Hamm has played in the orchestras for musicians such as Jimmy Dorsey and Guy Lombardo.
Born in New Jersey on September 21, 194, Leroy Eliot "Slam" Stewart's love affair with jazz began when he played string bass in high school. While attending school in Boston, Stewart heard Ray Perry singing with his violin and decided he should try the same with his bass. Along with a friend, Stewart formed the jazz act Slim and Slam. Slim and Slam's song "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)"reached number two on the U.S. music charts. In addition to playing with greats such as Benny Goodman and Dizzy Gillespie, Stewart taught at Binghamton University. It was in Binghamton where he would die on December 10, 1987, of congestive heart failure.