2023 Hall of Fame Inductees
drummer (photo: Steven Mast)
RON McCURDY’s drums helped create the bebop soundtrack of Cincinnati’s golden age of jazz in the late 1950s and remained a swinging mainstay of the Cincinnati jazz scene for 50 years thereafter.
A native of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, McCurdy came to Cincinnati at age 22 in 1955 after his service in the U.S. Army. He began playing jazz dates with local peers such as Jimmy McGary while studying geology at the University of Cincinnati. He left his studies in 1958 when saxist Curtis Peagler invited him to join a groundbreaking new band with Billy Brown, Lee Tucker and William "Hicky" Kelley. The band was the Modern Jazz Disciples, and it quickly became Cincinnati's most respected jazz combo. At a time when jazz still belonged to Black musicians, as the Disciples’ only white member, Ron lived and worked in the thriving Black community around Reading Road.
The Disciples became the house group at Babe Baker's, whose schedule of national jazz stars allowed Ron the privilege of backing a long list of legendary players, from Lester Young (not long before his death) to Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin, Ben Webster and Rashaan Roland Kirk (whom he would walk to work, since Kirk was blind). Ron was also among the local jazz players who daylighted at King Records, laying down tracks for R&B artists.
In 1959 the Disciples were signed to record for Prestige Records' New Jazz label at legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey, a major coup. Their self-titled album received a glowing review in downbeat, the jazz bible of the time. The Disciples returned to Van Gelder's studio in 1960, but McCurdy had left to go on the road with the Al Belletto Sextet. In 2001, Prestige’s Fantasy Jazz label reissued both albums on CD as "Disciples Blues." When he died in 2008, Ron was the only surviving member of the Disciples.
In the 1960s McCurdy moved for a time to New Orleans to work as house drummer at that city’s Playboy Club and later returned home for an extended stint at Cincinnati’s Playboy Club, backing many notable performers on the Playboy circuit.
In Cincinnati, he performed over the years in every jazz format — from shows, including an early stint in the pit band at the Gayety burlesque theater; to small groups, including the Wee Three trio, with Cal Collins and Michael Moore; to big bands, including the Bill Walters Big Band, which broadcast live from the Ramada Inn Blue Ash in the ‘80s. Other longstanding gigs were at the Carrousel Inn with pianist Frank Vincent in the late '70s and early '80s and at Christie's on Chester Road with a quintet headed by Carmon DeLeone. A particular love was bossa nova and Brazilian music, including a ‘90s group called Brazil with Michael Sharfe, Wayne Yeager and Larry Kinley.
Ron was the house drummer at the Dee Felice Cafe in Covington from 1989 until his retirement in 2005.
His colleagues and friends admired Ron not only as a passionate and talented musician but also for his wit, his distaste for pretension and his large heart. He was the consummate sideman, distinguished by his lack of ego or self-promotion and by his devotion to the “feel” of the music. The plaque that was presented to him "in celebration of an extraordinary life in music" on his last night on the bandstand at Dee Felice Cafe on Aug. 27, 2005, read: "The music always came first."
PAM MALLORY YEAGER
With a beautiful voice and innovative style PAMELA MALLORY is a soulful and swinging jazz songstress. She sings the great songs from the 1940s to today and makes them her own. A veteran vocalist, working in the Tri-State over 40 years, originally from Dayton, Ohio, she lives in Cincinnati performing most often with her husband, pianist Wayne Yeager.
Music was her first love. Her mother was a proficient pianist and teacher and Pam learned the great tunes of the American Songbook early, as soon as she could read she sang them, standing next to her mother at the baby grand in the living room. She remembers boxes of sheet music, all the wonderful tunes. Her mother was supportive and Pam had lessons in piano, violin, french horn, dance and finally, in her junior year of high school she began studying classical voice with Josephine Hines. At this time Pam was active in local summer theater productions and a choral show group and had been singing solos and choir in church since childhood. Her senior year she won the contest for the youth spotlight for the Dayton Symphony and was set to study operatic voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
But life had other plans and she became a Navy bride and mother at 18 years of age and moved to Norfolk, Virginia.
After two years she moved back to Dayton and started singing in local rock bands, cover bands, and a funk band through the 70’s and the 80’s and did backup work for several music studios.
Then Johnny Mack needed a sub for his big band and called Pam. She met at his home to run through some tunes for the gig and they were all tunes she remembered from the days at the piano with her mother! That was a big turning point and she found pianist, trombonist and arranger Jeff Hufnagle to begin a career singing jazz music. She feels very fortunate to have honed her craft with Jeff and his main trio, Bill Jackson on bass, and Steve Barnes on drums.
Pamela listened to all the great vocalists, jazz and all genres.
Jeff and Pam collaborated on unique jazz arrangements of standards and the tunes of great writers of our time. Dayton had a thriving jazz scene and they were working constantly through the 90’s, over a decade. As a single mom, Pam was working a full time day job as a designer and raising two boys while being a weekend warrior singing in the clubs.
Pam moved to Cincinnati around 2002. The scene in Dayton was fading and she was already busy working gigs in Cincinnati, her boys were grown.She met and became close friends with Ann Chamberlain and ended up working with and marrying pianist, Wayne Yeager.
Pam sang in the house band at the Celestial and at the Hilton Palm Court for over 25 years. Jazz fans have enjoyed her at the Dayton Art Institute, Gilly’s, The Nite Owl, Shades of Jade, Charley’s Web, Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp, and Chez Nora in Covington, Kentucky, to name just a few great jazz venues. She was vocalist for the Dayton Jazz Orchestra. She has performed in the jazz series at Lexington Kentucky’s Farish Theater, the Carnegie, the Wright State University jazz series and Cincinnati’s Crown Jewels summer jazz program. Pamela’s quartet played yearly for Dayton’s Women in Jazz Festival (now the Dayton Jazz Festival)- from 1995 to the present. She will return this year for 3CDC’s jazz concerts at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall.
Pamela has worked with the late Khalid Moss (Dayton Ohio talent who was one of Betty Carter’s pianists) and many of Cincinnati’s wonderful musicians, including Jazz Hall of Famers Marc Fields, Kenny Poole, Lou Lausche, Frank Vincent, Jim Anderson, Melvin Broach, Ann Chamberlain, Lynne Scott, Ed Moss, Steve Schmidt, Ed Morgan, John Von Ohlen, Lee Stolar, Bill Gemmer, Art Gore, Phil DeGreg, Wilbert Longmire, Rick Van Matre, Larry Dickson, Pat Kelly, Don Steins, and Michael Sharfe and Wayne Yeager.
Pamela has two CDs, the first was made in the 90’s and is titled after the song “Close Enough For Love”. The second was completed in 2021, and is dedicated to Jeff Hufnagle, titled “True Colors”.
She is also an artist, one of her paintings is the cover of her latest CD. Pam loves cooking for family and friends, nature, birdwatching and flower gardening in the backyard, and being with her four grandchildren, Wayne, and their two dogs.
Drummer RON ENYARD was born Oct, 30, 1936 in Marion, Indiana. His musical career has take him from the slopes of Mt. Adams to the streets and clubs of San Francisco, to New York City and to the Zildjian cymbal factory in Turkey.
Enyard has played with the Al Belletto sextet, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dave Liebman, Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel, Lynn Halliday, Charlie Rouse, Woody Shaw, Al Kiger, Bert Wilson, Vince Wallace, Francine Griffin, King Pleasure, Harold Jones, John Pierce, Paul Plummer, Trotty Heck, Ernie George, Bob Dorough, Josh Breakstone, Cal Collins, and Jamey Aebersold among others.
At Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, he met and played with Austin Crowe, Paul Plummer, Al Kiger and John Pierce. He toured with Ernie George, Trotty Heck and Paul Plummer for 10-20 years.
After meeting pianist Frank Vincent on the road, Enyard auditioned for Vincent's band, because he wanted to travel. But the army called, and he went into the service. Afterwards, he came to Cincinnati and enjoyed gigs at the many local jazz clubs: Babe Baker's, Cubana Lounge, the Gibson Lounge at the Gibson hotel, the Living Room among them. "It was 6 nights a week for weeks,"
he recalls. Enyard subbed for Dee Felice when Dee wasn't playing at the Living Room.
Other jazz venues Enyard recalls during the heyday of jazz in Cincinnati were the Barn and Hangar,
the Penthouse, Blue Angel, the Apartment, and the Playboy Club, where he played with bassist Alex Cirin. Enyard can tell stories of encounters with gangsters and playing on the streets of Berkeley, California with blind tenor player Bert Wilson.
He left the west coast and came back to Indianapolis, with vocalist Ann Chamberlain at the "S&H Barbecue" and The Place to Start. "I needed some real life," he recalled. "Nothing there [out west] for us but the scuffle."
There was a short flirtation with possible national fame when he was in a trio with black organist/singer Bobby Shaw and tenor man Dick Mordente. They toured in Enyard's '53 Dodge, pulling a trailer. Out of the blue, the trio sent off a tape of one of their gigs to a publicity
company in Chicago. The response was tremendous. "We'll have you working all the time. Send photos for a press kit." So they had some glossy promotional photos made and sent them off. Second response: "You didn't tell us it was a mixed group." They said they couldn't market the Checkmates. It was either all-black or all-white. After returning to Cincinnati, Enyard had regular gigs at many of the above-mentioned clubs for extended stretches.
Influences include Art Blakey ("To this day, I am stealing from him all I can -- with respect."), Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, Art Taylor. "My interest is how to fit with the group rather than to be a great player."
MIKE WADE began playing trumpet in his pre teen years. While attending the Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, D.C., he received a National Symphony Fellowship to study with symphony trumpeters. He attended Howard University for one year before transferring to Central State University on full scholarship, where he received his bachelor’s in music education. Wade attended The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Mastering in Classical Trumpet for a year. He is no stranger to the titles of producer, composer, arranger, and educator.
Wade has performed and/or recorded with such artists as David “Fathead” Newman, Clark Terry, Javon Jackson, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Mulgrew Miller, Rene Marie, Don Braden, Steve Wilson, Othello Molineaux, Vincent Herring, Jon Hendricks & Annie Ross, Winard & Phillip Harper, Herb Jeffries, Craig Bailey, Marc Cary, Bill Lee, Ricky Wellman, Maurice, Freddie, and Verdine White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Tom Tom 84, and Experience Unlimited (E.U.). He has performed on Black Entertainment Television (BET) Jazz Discovery show, and WOSU Jazz Voices television series. Mike’s quintet, Standard Time, was the 1997 winner of the Cincinnati Cammy award for Best Small Jazz Group. With the Mike Wade Reality Band he has opened for the jazz group BWB (Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown), Rachelle Ferrell and George Benson. With the Famous American Trumpet Section (F.A.T.S.) he performed at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Denver, CO in 2004.
During his career, Mike Wade has been named one of the top ten unsigned jazz brass players as rated by Jazziz Magazine (1997). His composition, “Blues for Shorty Bop”, was chosen for inclusion in Jazziz on Disc collection. He has performed and/or recorded with such artists as David “Fathead” Newman, Clark Terry, Javon Jackson, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Mulgrew Miller, Rene Marie, Don Braden, Steve Wilson, Othello Molineaux, Vincent Herring, Jon Hendricks & Annie Ross, Winard & Phillip Harper, Antoine Roney, Herb Jeffries, Craig Bailey, Billy Hart, Marc Cary, Bill Lee, Ricky Wellman, Bootsy Collins, Reggie Calloway, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, Maurice, Freddie, and Verdine White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Tom Tom 84, and Experience Unlimited (E.U.).
Wade has performed on Black Entertainment Television (BET) Jazz Discovery show and WOSU Jazz Voices television series. With either his quartet or quintet, he has performed at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards show (2000), Cincinnati Cammy Awards show (1997), the Columbus Jazz and Rib Fest, the Charleston Jazz Festival, and the Frog Island Festival. Mike’s quintet, Standard Time, was the 1997 winner of the Cincinnati Cammy award for Best Small Jazz Group. With the Mike Wade Reality Band, he has opened (2003) for the smooth jazz group BWB (Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown). With the Famous American Trumpet Section (F.A.T.S.) he performed at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Denver, CO (2004). With the Mike Wade Sextet, he has opened (2005) for the renowned San Francisco Jazz Collective.
Over the past 5 years, Wade has recently become a member of the R&B/funk super group, Cameo. He has had the pleasure of performing alongside the great living legend, jazz trumpeter, Eddie Henderson as a member of (F.A.T.S.).
GEORGE ZAHN, WMKV Station Director, is a 45-year veteran of Cincinnati radio having worked in both commercial and public radio at such stations as WVXU, WCKY, WNKU, and WSAI, and of course WMKV. He taught at Xavier University in the Communication Arts Department for twenty years, and is a Peabody Award (one of broadcasting’s highest awards) winner.
George Zahn started mixing live jazz and other music out of necessity in the 1980s when WVXU wanted to do a live music series from jazz venues around the city. A non-musician, George had only one week of seminars and just one night of live music training with Rob Reider before mixing the Blue Wisp Big Band live on air. Over the next twenty-plus years, George mixed hundreds of hours live with most of the region’s top jazz acts at top local venues in addition to more than 120 shows of Riders Radio Theater heard on NPR. He has been honored to work with some of the greatest names in Jazz and Country music.
George was among the technical producers of the program that won one of broadcasting’s most coveted trophies, the 1994 Peabody Award for the special production “D-Day Plus 50 Years” on WVXU.
He was on the initial board of the Cincinnati Jazz Hall of Fame and played a small part in helping the Jazz Hall of Fame get off the ground. He has been a champion for local jazz and historic music in our area.
He is the only 5-time winner of the Ohio Educational Broadcasting “Producer of the Year” Award for excellence in radio production. He also has taught at Xavier University, and was a 15-year columnist and regular contributor to Radio Guide magazine.
George is a firm believer in radio as the “theater of the mind,” one of the last great bastions of imagination.
George has worked on numerous broadcast history documentaries including works on Ruth Lyons, Red Barber, Powel Crosley, and several Cincinnati radio history projects.
Among groups George has worked with is Media Heritage, Incorporated, an organization dedicated to the preservation of radio history. He has worked as a recording engineer for national musicians, and his microphone articles have been published in major radio trade journals.