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Kimball crossing guard a jazz and race-relations pioneer

December 14th, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Posted by Wendi Dunlap

“…Back in the day, Kimball Elementary’s crossing guard was a fixture in Seattle’s explosive Jackson Street jazz scene. He played with all the legends of Seattle jazz, from Quincy Jones to Ernestine Anderson.” Danny Westneat of The Seattle Times (BHB news partners) wrote a column recently about jazz pianist Kenny Boas, a Beacon Hill neighbor whose past includes hanging out with Ray Charles, playing with famed groups the Savoy Boys and the Bumps Blackwell Band, and crossing the color line—in the reverse direction. The musicians’ unions in Seattle at the time were segregated. Boas quit the white union, and became the first non-minority member of the Negro Musicians’ Union, Local 493.

Until recently, the 85-year-old Boas worked as the crossing guard at Kimball Elementary School on 23rd Avenue South. See a video of Boas playing piano here.

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