10 months ago

HHr-PJM 2017-FINAL2 -Publishing Version

Pure Jazz Magazine covers the music called Jazz from a very unique perspective not seen in most publications.

Jazz is OK The Tulsa

Jazz is OK The Tulsa Oklahoma Jazz Scene TheRese Anderson-Aduni 08/19/2016 - Interview of Chuck Cissel, a native Tulsan and noted Jazz entertainer and living in Tulsa, Ok. The conversation took place at the Greenwood Cultural Center, in the infamous Greenwood district - formerly known as “Black Wall Street”. Page 22 - Pure Jazz Magazine

Oklahoman’s may be viewed as having “backwoods folk” to the more metropolitan world, but we are well-rounded due in large part to the exposure produced by our parents, our church, and our teachers. Moving back to Tulsa and finding Chuck Cissel on Facebook, there was exhilaration when he accepted a friend invitation. We have been corresponding on Facebook for several years, so this assignment to do a piece on “Jazz in Tulsa”, without hesitation Chuck Cissel came to mind. Chuck and I share a rich history here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the interview we laughed and remembered the great educators we were both exposed to during our formative years, growing up in Tulsa. It was a fact that our school teachers held PhD’s and Master degrees; they couldn’t teach at the college level due to segregation, so they came back home and taught elementary, junior and senior high school, thus we received college level education in music, science and math during segregation. The rich history of mentors, both peer and teacher, was the foundation of this star’s success. The educators who pushed and nagged us into being the best we could be, and encouraged us to follow our dreams on whichever road we ended up is paramount in this interview. The Greenwood Cultural Center was chosen because it has the essence of the ancestors, and because it has a small display of musical legends that used to play along the strip back in the day. The Center is nestled in the middle of the infamous Greenwood, Archer and Pine streets in the Black Wall Street district in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Getting there early to set up the recorders and review my research about this icon, made the anticipation cause butterflies in my stomach. The previous evening, I had YouTube his work which brought back memories of times gone by - of hanging out in the park with friends, sitting on car hoods and roof tops, with the boom-box blasting out music of the summer jams. Making out with my boyfriend, and him mouthing the words to the songs like “Forever”, “If I had a chance”, “Do you believe” - and urging me to go further than I knew I should. Anticipation caused me to be anxious to see Chuck Cissel again, we had not seen each other since the early 70’s, when he came in from New York to choreograph an off-off- Broadway production of “Hallelujah Baby” starring Leslie Uggams that was being done in Tulsa that year. I was in the chorus line, and Chuck was commissioned to do the choreography. Fond memories of being in awe of his talent, and the tenacity of his instruction - of our syncopated dance routines, and making sure our costumes were of “Broadway” quality is what is fondly remembered. If God has an angel assigned to the arts, he/ she decided to watch over Chuck Cissel, because his story to fame is chock full of miracles, doors that were closed and suddenly opened, as well as, a sprinkle of angel dusted determination and perseverance, given just at the right time. This is a story about faith – true faith; a belief in a higher power, greater than ourselves, and what that belief, as well as, a belief in yourself- a belief in trusting your own inner guidance system – your own GPS. (God Proven Spirit) is the story of Chuck Cissel. Aduni: So besides planning your class reunion (Booker T. Washington HS Class of 1966), what have you been up to? Chuck: You know I retired from the Jazz Hall of Fame, five years ago; and this little puppy right here (points to a long scar on his neck – carotid artery surgery) gave me the impetus to sit down; because the doctor told me to sit down as well. Previously to the surgery, I had a stroke a few years before. I praise God every day because when I had the stroke I couldn’t walk, and I was blind and I thought, Lord am I going to be like Stevie Wonder? When did I -- why am I – what did I do? It was a pity party. Aduni: (Laughing) No - God just said - sit down. That’s what he was saying... Chuck: (Agrees, continues talking like God) “You are working too hard, you’re too industrious, sit down please”. And I continued, and then this thing came up (pointing to his neck and then knocks on the table; do you get the message now?). Aduni: Hello? - Yeah. Chuck: And so I said okay, and that’s when I made the decision to retire from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Though it had been fun and we broke new ground in the old Union Depot Station, I had to let go. Aduni: I think I read somewhere, you and your family were the impetus of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame? Chuck: Yes. My sister, former State Senator, Maxine Cissel Horner was the founder. Aduni: In my research - I’m saying to myself, they’re mentioning all these people, but I recognized Ernie Fields, I recognize Charlie Christian and Al Dennie... Chuck: I have a host of names to give you. Aduni: Jimmy Rushing – now did you ever work with any of them? Chuck: Well I worked with Ernie Jr.… Aduni: Okay. Chuck: And all the others. I worked with pianist, George Dennie, brother to Al Dennie when I came here years ago from New York to perform at the Jazz Hall Gala, but most of the others were gone… Aduni: Okay Chuck: We’re talking about the 40’s Aduni: Yeah – 1920’s -30’s -40’s. Chuck: When they were in their hey-day, so by the time they got into their 60’s and 70’s, they were pretty much on the down side of playing or performing like, “Hey – how ya doin man?, Aduni: So Ernie fields you worked with him? Chuck: Yes, and people like Jazz Hall inductee, and great jazz drummer Washington Rucker, and of course, inductees, Charles & Barbara Burton, are my cousins. Aduni: Really! Chuck: Yes, they were inducted as well. Then I worked with Earl Clark, Wayman Tisdale, George Duke, Marilyn Maye, Pat Moore and Joey Crutcher… Aduni: I remember Pat. Chuck: Guitarist, Johnny Rodgers, is a cousin – he was inducted. I worked with and produced concerts with Stanley Jordan, Wynton Marsalis, Taj Mahal, Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, George Duke, Eddie Palmieri; Oh you’re causing me to use my brain cells… Aduni: I’m going to ask you in a different way –and it will pop right in. Okay, if you were to describe Tulsa, because this is Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 23