Cornetists David Jellema (left) and Jim Cullum Jr. (right) at Skyline Swing 2018
by JJ Lopez, KRTU General Manager
If there is one thing I learned from working with Jim Cullum Jr. it’s this: the show must go on. When I first started working with Jim in 2014, it was clear from the start that I was working with an artist and consummate professional. I was in the presence of someone whose jazz career spanned nearly 50 years. It was clear that I was working with a veteran of the music industry and that our new venture, Skyline Swing, was just one chapter in an anthology of memorable episodes.
No matter the challenge, no matter the time of day (as long as it was afternoon), Jim always found a way to make an event happen. When it came to jazz, Jim was a yes-man.
On Saturday, August 31, San Antonio celebrated Jim’s life with a beautiful public ceremony at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Guests were treated to wonderful stories from Jim’s life. Members of Jim’s family were joined by guest speakers including Mayor Ron Nirenberg who declared August 31 officially “Jim Cullum Jr. Day.”
Many of Jim’s close associates and fellow band members from the Jim Cullum Jazz Band performed on stage paying tribute to Jim through music. The ceremony ended with a traditional 2nd Line march in honor of our good friend, Jim Cullum Jr.
Of the many endearing testimonials, I heard that afternoon one story in particular resonated with me. One of Jim’s daughters told a story about Jim’s unflinching determination and fervor. She described her father as someone who exuded a passion for life, family, and of course music and jazz. She said that her father would often say, “don’t tell me it can’t be done.”
In many ways this described the Jim that I knew and worked with. He made sure that Skyline Swing would happen every month and that the band would strike up for the dancers, promptly at 8 - always. No matter the challenge, Jim always made sure the jazz played on.
This is the Jim Cullum that I knew.
Thank you, Jim.
Join us on Saturday, September 7 for a special Skyline Swing honoring the life and music of Jim Cullum Jr.