BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — News 4 visited the Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum on Wednesday to learn more about the evolution of African American music throughout the world, but especially in Buffalo.

“African American music has its roots in Gospel, and what we try to do is list all of the forms of African Americans’ music,” said Danny Williams, the club’s board of directors president. “Each one of those genres — of course starting with the Gospel and Mahalia Jackson, and then moving with Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, and B.B. King with the blues, right on up to Aretha Franklin, R&B and Miles Davis with modern jazz, and it continues — but all the roots are here in Gospel.”

Williams spoke on the importance of the local history.

“I think that it’s important that we remember how things start, and we can simply grow from there, because African American music is always growing and changing,” he said. “We’re a long way from being finished with that.”

Many people have come through the club throughout its history, including some big names.

“Upstairs, where the club is, there are many artists that have performed here — Dizzy Gillespie, Coltrane, Miles, Duke Ellington, Count Basie — there are a lot of folks that came through here,” Williams said. “Playing here was fun, and not only fun, but it was like a right of passage. Buffalo was the place to be.”

The Colored Musicians Club is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. To learn more about the club, click here. For the club’s calendar of Black History Through Art events, click here.

Learn more about the club during News 4’s Black History Month Special airing at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 on WIVB, and again at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 on the CW23.

Hope Winter is a reporter and multimedia journalist who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.