It is pretty clear after talking to Fred Hughes, the founder, and president of Jazz Alive, that he was fed not only a diet of baby food but also side dishes of Jazz and classical music as an infant.
With a father having a successful career as a jazz pianist, Fred grew up in a household where music was a daily part of family life, including joining his dad’s gigs, and quickly picking up both tuba and keyboard as his preferred instruments.
Indeed, Hughes later choose a career in the armed services to not only serve his country but take advantage of the army’s long-standing tradition of supporting musicians among its ranks. With overseas assignments that allowed him to visit and perform in jazz clubs all over the world, Fred continued this passion after his discharge with a full, seven days a week, as a jazz pianist in some of the Mid-Atlantic’s most popular venues, including a long-running gig at the famed Willard Hotel in Washington.
While Fred’s career has come with great satisfaction, it didn’t escape him that his audiences were getting older and greyer every year. And with that observation in mind, he began to worry that Jazz would be destined for extinction without some organized intervention, particularly with young students.
In response to this severe threat, Hughes created the Jazz Alive organization from his studio in Royal Oak in 2019. With a particular emphasis on youth programming, including creating the DelMarVa Youth Jazz Orchestra and an exciting new concert series to help fund those programs, Fred and his board are now in full swing as the Eastern Shore slowly emerges from the dark days of the Covid pandemic.
We talked to Fred earlier this week in the Spy studio about his new mission of keeping Jazz alive for generations to come.
This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Jazz Alive, and to make reservations for its concerts at Easton’s Waterfowl Building, please go here.