At least 200 J.H. Gunn fourth- and fifth-graders listened to music on Wednesday that was popular with their great-grandparents – jazz. And not just any jazz, but the style that the namesake of their school, J.H. “Jimmie” Gunn, played with his orchestra in the 1930s.
The Jimmie Gunn Orchestra and his Dixie Serenaders toured the Carolinas and Georgia, billing themselves as The Nation’s Foremost Colored Dance Orchestra. Just a few years later, Gunn left the life of a musician to become a teacher. And in 1944 he became the principal of Clear Creek Negro School in Charlotte, which was renamed J.H. Gunn High School in 1954.
Some of the students at the assembly played percussion instruments, such as drums or cymbals, to Duke Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo,” “In The Mood” by Glenn Miller or Ella Fitzgerald’s “Jersey Bounce.” John Simmons