Tuesday May 19, 2015
From Jocks and Nerds
By: Edward Moore
Following his recent gig with his new group the Village Rhythms Band at Ronnie Scott’s, as well as the release of his Sound Prints album on Blue Note, Joe Lovano reflects on his career as a jazz musician and the importance of unity through music
On 23 July 1966, at around 2.30am on Euclid Avenue, which sits just at the edge of Cleveland’s Little Italy neighbourhood, Warren LaRiche, a 28-year-old Italian American, fired two shotgun rounds at Benoris Toney, a 29-year-old African American.
Toney, who was married and had five sons, died in hospital the next day. LaRiche, who was engaged to be remarried and had one adopted son, was ultimately acquitted of murder charges on the grounds of self-defence.
The incident happened five days into the weeklong race riots in the African American neighbourhood of Hough, Cleveland. What was particularly significant about Toney’s shooting was that it occurred some 40 blocks outside of Hough, in an area that experienced no other incidents of violence at that time.
“By Friday, everybody was carrying a gun. It was an armed camp,” said LaRiche in an interview before his trial. “Everybody had heard the coloured people were going to come up the hill and burn us out … the people stood on the streets and were afraid.”
While the uprisings highlighted the heightened racial anxieties within a separated urban community – mirrored across the rest of the US – the musical activities of local Sicilian American tenor saxophonist Tony ‘Big T’ Lovano embodied a more unified approach.
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