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Clark Atlanta University Honors Dr. James Patterson, "The Man of Jazz," on August 28th

Kiplyn Primus and Dr. James Patterson - April 2022
Kiplyn Primus
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Kiplyn Primus and Dr. James Patterson at the C. T. Vivian and Octavia Vivian Kaleidoscope Awards for Literary Excellence in April 2022. A living legend who had a line of folks waiting to take a "selfie" with him.

One of the great things about this time is that are legends in our midst, including Dr. James Patterson, known as “the man of jazz.” Dr. Patterson graduated from Clark College, now Clark Atlanta University, in 1957 and became a professor at his alma mater in 1968.

Patterson went on to found The Clark Atlanta Jazz Orchestra and formally added the jazz orchestra to the curriculum. Under Dr. Patterson’s tutelage, the Clark Atlanta Jazz Orchestra performed with Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, and Mary Lou Williams, just to name a few. The Clark Atlanta University Jazz Orchestra has also performed in jazz festivals worldwide, from Senegal to Switzerland.

He was recently inducted as a “Lejend of Jazz” Education Award presented by the Jazz Education Network (JEN). He is also being honored by his alma mater on Sunday, August 28th, on the campus of Clark Atlanta University.

I asked Dr. Patterson how he feels about being honored at this time. He says he is “delighted.” He mentions being honored by the Atlanta City Council at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. There is a rehearsal hall on campus named for him and other awards.

Dr. Patterson explains that the impetus for starting the orchestra came from his parents, both musicians. His mother, Laura Carlyle Patterson, was a singer. His father played fiddle and guitar in “Black String Bands.” He also speaks about Wayman Carver, the band director at Clark College, in 1962. Dr. Patterson continues to share his love for the institution that began as Clark College. He speaks about not being able to enroll at Georgia State.

From its inception, the orchestra was well received. Patterson speaks about the orchestra playing all over the world. Their performance at the 1982 Montreaux Jazz Festival with Dizzy Gillespie stands out. He talks about playing with Quincy Jones and Wynton Marsalis.

Dr. Patterson says that Kingston, Georgia, his hometown, has stories he doesn’t care to share. He established the James Patterson Foundation to continue supporting the two institutions he loves, Jazz and Clark Atlanta University.

For more information about Dr. James Patterson

For more information about the Clark Atlanta University Orchestra

For more information on the CAU Honor on August 28, 2022