Despite his importance and influence, jazz musician, educator, and community leader Horace Tapscott remains relatively unknown to most Americans. In Songs of the Unsung Tapscott shares his life story, recalling his childhood in Houston, moving with his family to Los Angeles in 1943, learning music, and his early professional career. He describes forming the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra in 1961 and later the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension to preserve African American music and serve the community. Tapscott also recounts his interactions with the Black Panthers and law enforcement, the Watts riots, his work in Hollywood movie studios, and stories about his famous musician-activist friends. Songs of the Unsung is the captivating story of one of America's most unassuming heroes as well as the story of L.A.'s cultural and political evolution over the last half of the twentieth century.
Horace Tapscott (1934-1999) was a jazz pianist, trombonist, composer, educator, and community leader in Los Angeles. Appearing on dozens of albums as a leader or a sideman, Tapscott performed with the U.S. Air Force band and Lionel Hampton's big band, led the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, and taught and mentored hundreds of Los Angeles youths. Steven Isoardi is the author of The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles and coeditor of Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles.
Acknowledgments ix Foreword / Steven Isoardi xi Preface xiii 1. Early Years in Houston 1 2. California 17 3. Setting the Pace 31 4. Central Avenue 42 5. Military Service 51 6. On the Road with Lionel Hampton 70 7. To Preserve and Develop Black Culture 82 8. The Fire This Time 105 9. In the Middle of It 117 10. Stayin' Alive 125 11. The Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension 136 12. Settling into the Community 147 13. Movements to the Present 173 14. Reflections and Directions 187 Postscript: From the Funeral Service 213 Appendix: A Partial List of UGMAA Artists, 1961-1998 217 Discography I: Horace Tapscott 221 Discography II: Music from the Ark 236 Index 241