LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Five Arkansans will be inducted into the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame June 20. The event, from, 8-10 p.m., will take place at the Old State House Museum. The five will be the sixteenth group inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining 72 others since the Hall’s first induction in 1994.
“These talented Arkansas musicians join 72 others who have made significant contributions to jazz – we are grateful to their families, friends, fans and communities across Arkansas for the steadfast support,” Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame co-founder and event coordinator James Thomson said.
The five inductees:
TeRoy “T” Betton, Jr., a trumpet player who began recording in 1968 and gained renown as an arranger, composer, pianist and teacher, bringing his skills — the term “musical genius” has been used — not only to jazz, but concert and marching band. Ultimately, Betton played a range of instruments, but trumpet remained his main instrument throughout his career. Betton’s career included working with Little Rock -area bands and musicians, as well as playing with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson and Gladys Knight. Betton passed in 1986 and his award is posthumous.
Irene Crutchfield Brown, a vocalist, who continued to sing after attending what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as a member of the choir. She performed at various times with pianists and previous Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame inductees John Puckett and Art Porter Sr. during her over-two-decade career. Brown recorded the album “Little Rock a.m.” with Porter during her career.
William “Bill” L. Craig, a saxophonist, as well as composer, producer, author and educator. Craig taught band and music in El Dorado for 22 and a half years and produced seven jazz records between 1984-1993 on his Jazz Mark label. He also authored two books with a Union County theme. Craig co-founded the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 1994 and was the fourth president of the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation. His big band “Young at Heart” started in 1996 and he played in the band until 2018. Craig passed in 2020 and his award is posthumous.
Jackie Lamar, a saxophonist who was a professor of saxophone at the University of Central Arkansas from 1986 to 2018, which included directing the Jazz II and Dixieland ensembles. Beginning as a saxophonist in grade school, Lamar’s career included work as a composer and educator, including as the developer of jazz studies curricula as well as performing in all region, state and professional organizations throughout Arkansas.
Kenneth R. “Ken” Walker, a bassist who got his start in Arkansas, beginning with tuba in grade school, and on to a BA in Music Education from Arkansas Tech in 1979. After graduating, Walker worked as a freelance bassist in and around Little Rock. He has worked with Art Porter Jr. and various visiting artists. In 1985, Walker moved to Denver, Colorado, leading to his becoming bassist with the house band at the El Chapultepec jazz club there and a first-call bassist for touring musicians and session work in the area. His credits include work in Denver Public Schools in a Young Audience program and the Mile High Jazz Camp. Walker was a faculty member at the Lamont School of Music. The Ken Walker sextet’s recording debut “Terra Firma” was number 56 of the top 100 Jazz CDs of 2005.