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Connections

Discussing Juneteenth and what we can learn about community from the Pythodd jazz club

Five smiling people wearing headphones sit at a table in a radio talk studio: A woman front left has short black hair and is wearing a red top and a green skirt; a woman front center has long black and blonde braided hair and is wearing a blue blazer and jeans; a woman back left has black hair and is wearing a red, yellow, and green dress; a woman back center has grey hair, glasses, and is wearing a maroon outfit; a man at right has short dark hair and is wearing jeans and a navy blue hoodie that has the letters "WXXI" in white text
Gary Pudup
/
WXXI News
(foreground) Nita Brown, Nikia Washington, (background) Myra Henry, and Gloria Johnson-Hovey on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Monday, June 10, 2024

What do Stevie Wonder, Irene Reid, and Rochester’s own Roy McCurdy have in common?

They all performed at the legendary Pythodd Room in the Clarissa Street neighborhood. From 1942-1973, the club welcomed some of jazz music’s most well-known artists.

As the founders of a local Juneteenth event gear up for this month’s activities, they say we need to look at Juneteenth through a broad lens: not only does it mark the end of slavery, but it is also meant to recognize and honor the accomplishments of the Black community. This year, they are focusing on achievements in the world of jazz. In addition to their musical prowess, Black and Brown jazz musicians at the Pythodd helped bring the community together. Some local leaders say that close-knit community has eroded over time.

What can we learn from the days of the Pythodd, and how can we carry those lessons into 2024? We discuss it with our guests. They also share their perspectives on gaps they see in representation and recognition at Rochester's International Jazz Festival.

In studio:

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.