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PR Newswire
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George 'Butch' Ballard to Receive 2006 Mellon Jazz Community Award


PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of his more than six decades of performing with some of the most demanding jazz bandleaders, along with his continued commitment to share his vast knowledge and experience with tomorrow's generation of jazz drummers, George "Butch" Ballard has been named the recipient of the 2006 Mellon Jazz Community Award.

"We are pleased to honor a jazz legend and a true gentleman who is still plying his craft with his peers. And just as Butch Ballard was first taught the drum basics more than 60 years ago, he understands the importance of passing these skills along to his students," said David Kutch, chairman of Mellon Financial Corporation's Mid-Atlantic region. "When you look at Butch's impressive background and credentials, it's no wonder that the 'All Music Guide' states that he provided the rhythm for a veritable Mount Rushmore of jazz stars and big band giants."

Born in Camden, NJ in 1918, Ballard moved to the Frankford area of Philadelphia at an early age and still lives in that neighborhood. As a youngster, he would follow local parades and admire the drummers. Eventually, his father agreed to let young Butch take drum lessons for 75 cents a week. His first public performance was with the Frankford Boys Club, and his first professional job was with Louis Armstrong's The Dukes in 1938. In 1941, Butch joined the Cootie Williams Orchestra, a band that played in the style of Duke Ellington, and remained with that band after serving in the Navy during World War II.

As one of the great early jazz drummers, Ballard also was highly sought after for performances and recordings in both the U.S. and Europe. During his illustrious career, other jazz greats with whom Ballard performed include Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sonny Greer, Ella Fitzgerald, Arnette Cobbs, Lucy Millinder, Bootsie Barnes, Terry Clark, Sarah Vaughn, Bob Dorsey, Eddy Vincent and Mercer Ellington. In addition to teaching music, the 89-year-old Ballard currently performs with the Philadelphia Legends of Jazz Orchestra.

The Mellon Jazz Community Award recognizes local individuals, organizations, musicians, programs and institutions for their significant contributions to jazz in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. Taking the form of an original glass sculpture by noted Pennsylvania glass artist Kathleen Mulcahy, the award will be accompanied by a $5,000 contribution from Mellon Jazz to the Philadelphia Clef Club's jazz education programs. The four previous awardees were Denise King, promoter of free community jazz programs and founder of "BeBop and Books" (2005); WRTI-FM, Temple University's public radio station (2004); Anthony H. "Tony" Williams, founder of the Mount Airy Cultural Center (2003); and Bob Perkins, long-time jazz broadcaster and journalist (2002).

Mellon Financial Corporation's year-round celebration of jazz excellence, Mellon Jazz is marking its 21st anniversary in Philadelphia this year and 20th in Pittsburgh. In both cities, Mellon Jazz supports non-profit organizations engaged in live jazz performances and jazz education, and recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to each city's rich jazz tradition. More information on Mellon Jazz initiatives is available at http://www.mellon.com/jazz.

Mellon Financial Corporation is a global financial services company. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Mellon is one of the world's leading providers of financial services for institutions, corporations and high net worth individuals, providing institutional asset management, private wealth management, asset servicing and payment solutions and investor services. Mellon has approximately $5.3 trillion in assets under management, administration or custody, including $918 billion under management. News and other information about Mellon is available at http://www.mellon.com/.
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© 2006 PR Newswire
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