The 2nd Annual American Jazz Walk of Fame honored six jazz musicians with medallions on the sidewalk in front of the Gem Theater off 18th and Vine in Kansas City Saturday.
Jazz figures like Coleman Hawkins, Myra Taylor and Lester Young were honored posthumously, but longtime Kansas City jazz-organist Everette DeVan was there in person to receive the honor.
DeVan has been a fixture of Kansas City's music scene since the 1960s. He first came to Kansas City as a member of a rhythm and blues band when he was a teenager.
"I think we were in town for a week, met several of the players here, played several of the clubs, and I always knew I wanted to come back here," DeVan said. "About eight months later, the band split, so I relocated to Kansas City and have been here ever since."
DeVan says it was the welcoming atmosphere of the city that impressed him.
"A lot of the older musicians that I was able to meet [in Kansas City] were very kind to me," DeVan said. "Over the years, I've tried to pass that on to my students. I tell them, 'Put your homework in, study, become a good player and the sky's the limit.'"
DeVan's friend and collaborator Tim Henry attended the ceremony. He said DeVan's legacy is tied to his instrument of choice: the Hammond B3 organ.
"The first time I heard Everette, I just did somersaults in my mind and heart because he is the direct link from the great B3 players," Henry said. "I got to know him and heard his stories about playing with 'Brother' Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, and Charles Earland, and now to work with him is fabulous."
DeVan has toured the world and recorded music for more than 50 years. Last year, he suffered from a series of strokes and has been battling kidney failure. He said he has a donor arranged and will be receiving a transplant within the next few months.
Here's the full list of musicians who were honored at the Jazz Walk of Fame:
- Bennie Moten
- Claude "Fiddler" Williams
- Coleman Hawkins
- Myra Taylor
- Lester Young
- Everette DeVan