South Florida pays tribute to jazz great Melton Mustafa

admin | 3/22/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Students at Florida Memorial University [FMU] have been the most recent beneficiaries of the musical knowledge and experience of Melton Mustafa where he has served for more than a decade as the director of jazz studies. A gifted trumpet player and educator, he has also taught classes in music theory, jazz composition and other jazz-related courses. But he is probably best known for producing the Annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival at FMU. Some of the guest artists that have appeared at the Festival (from 1996-2009) include: Grover Washington, Jr., Idris Muhammad, Patrice Rushen, Billy Cobham, Herbie Mann, Billy Taylor, Najee and Randy Brecker. Besides being an amazingly talented musician, Mustafa has made his mark as an arranger, composer and producer. Whats more, he has stood toe-to-toe with some of the best jazz musicians in history and traveled the globe to perform. Imagine, playing with the likes of the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Jaco Pastorius or the Charlie Mingus Dynasty? Thats certainly old school jazz. Finally, Mustafa has released three CD's as a big band and small band leader entitled, "Boiling Point" Melton Mustafa Orchestra, "St. Louis Blues" Melton Mustafa Orchestra and The Softer Side Scenes from Miami Vol. 1. He is without a doubt, a true living legend. But things have been tough for Mustafa in recent years as he wages an ongoing battle against stage 4 prostate cancer. Getting a little help from his friends Several weeks ago, a large contingent of musicians gathered at Crescendos Jazz and Blues Lounge here in Miami to raise funds for their friend in efforts to assist him with his medical treatment. Anyone in the jazz arena knows and respects Melton Mustafa, said Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who, along with Alonzo and Tracy Mourning, was part of the host committee. He has given so much to the music industry and has devoted much of his time to educate young people about jazz. George Tandy, one of the jazz keyboardists and producers who participated in Mondays fundraiser, praised Mustafa for his educational and artistic contribution to the industry. Tandy drew thunderous applause when he tickled the ivory after delivering a heartfelt plea of support. I have never met a man who, when you speak of him, he dignifies you with life and humanity, Tandy said. Melton saw to it that after 30 years, I went to Florida Memorial University and got my degree in Jazz Education. We are all students of Melton. I just want to say thank you. If you want to send salutes or assistance to Mustafa, you should contact his brother, Jesse Jones, Jr., who is also a jazz vocalist and musician at 305-624-5940. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com