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Saxophonist Tia Fuller and Don Gardner | Courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia jazz musician, educator, leader and Executive Director of the Philadelphia Clef Club, Don Gardner, is receiving the Jazz Journalists Association 2016 Jazz Hero Award as part of Jazz Appreciation Month in Philadelphia.

Since 1985, Don Gardner has been in the leadership and management of the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz, wearing a number of hats at the prestigious arts institution. Don has done everything from digging the club’s foundation to being chief maintenance man to serving as President. Born in Philadelphia, Gardner began his musical career in 1947, while still in high school, playing drums and singing in The 3 Bachelors with Jimmy Smith. In 1953 Don formed the Sonotones, teaming up with vocalist Dee Dee Ford, with whom he scored the 1962 hit single “I Need Your Lovin’,” and continued to record into the ‘70s. Upon retiring from performance, Don was the road manager for Curtis Mayfield.

Gardner is one of those behind-the-scenes individuals who has been working tirelessly, and unselfishly, to promote jazz in Philadelphia. One of 27 jazz musicians, educators, and advocates across the country who are receiving the Jazz Hero award, he will receive his Jazz Hero award at an event tomorrow, Friday April 22, 2016 at Reuben’s Marc, at 7:30 pm, followed by a performance by the Spirit in Jazz Band at 9:00 pm. The event is being presented by the Community Jazz Project, and the band includes singer TC III, bassist Nimrod Speaks, drummer Khary Abdul-Rasheed, saxophonist Nasir Dickerson, keyboardist Jerry Tate, percussionist Joey Harrison, and Charles Washington on trumpet.

Go here to RSVP for the free show and more information about the event. Below, listen to Gardner’s 1962 hit song, “I Need Your Lovin’.” The song was covered by Otis Redding on his debut album, and by Tom Jones on his debut.

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