Jack McCray at the podium before a Charleston Jazz Orchestra concert at the Charleston Music Hall
  • Priscilla Thomas
  • Jack McCray at the podium before a Charleston Jazz Orchestra concert at the Charleston Music Hall

Sad news came in today from the Jazz Artists of Charleston: founding JAC board member, jazz historian, and longtime producer and emcee Jack McCray has died.

McCray started writing professionally about local jazz clubs and musicians 20 years ago at The Post and Courier. McCray helped establish the Charleston Jazz Initiative in 2003 as a research project celebrating and documenting the African-American jazz tradition in the Charleston area. In 2007, he examined Charleston’s musical background in the book Charleston Jazz (Arcadia), a 127-page collection of essays and images.

Over the last four years, McCray worked tirelessly to establish JAC as an independent group of like-minded artists. The JAC has presented numerous big-band and small-combo events at the Charleston Music Hall, Footlight Players Theatre, Voodoo Lounge, and other venues. In 2008, the JAC helped assemble the 20-piece Charleston Jazz Orchestra with Charlton Singleton as conductor. The JAC’s popular Upstairs at McCrady’s and Upstairs at Mistral series coincided with Piccolo Spoleto in recent years. The performances featured many of the finest local jazz musicians in town.

JAC president Leah Suárez issued a press statement on Thurs. Nov. 10:

“It is with a heavy heart and enormous amount of sorrow that we send this news to our JAC family. We have all lost one of the best people to inhabit our world, our jazz angel, Mr. Jack McCray. We wanted to let our JAC family know as soon as possible. Jack adored you all and was so grateful for the opportunity to share his life’s passion and work with each and every one of you. He found victory and unbelievable joy in our ever-growing jazz family. What a gift he was to all of us. Please keep his immediate and extended families and wide-reaching network of friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers. We will keep you all informed as we are able. Thank you for your prayers, love and support.”

Visit jazzartistsofcharleston.org for more.