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Jerry Hahn began performing professionally almost six decades ago, when he was 11 years old.

His skill level has increased in those years, and Hahn's passion for music is as strong as ever.

Lincoln music fans will get their chance to enjoy Hahn's appreciation for what he describes as "mainstream, straight-ahead jazz" when he performs Tuesday at the final installment of this year's Jazz in June.

With Hahn will be three backup musicians to complete the quartet: Joe Cartwright on piano, Tyrone Clarke on bass and Mike Warren on drums.

"Those guys are the rhythm section I play with down in Kansas City a lot," Hahn said in a recent phone interview from his home in Wichita, Kan. "They're the best down there and are some world-class players."

Hahn, who was born in Alma in 1940, moved with his family to Kansas at a young age and began playing guitar at age 7. He moved to San Francisco when he was 21 and joined a group called the John Handy Quartet, performing on a few records released by Columbia Records, including the highly touted "Live at Monterey."

In 1970, when Hahn formed the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, critics revered him as a trailblazer in what was a burgeoning jazz-fusion movement.

"By and large it was a combination of country, blues, rock and jazz," Hahn said.

The fusion influence allowed jazz to be consumed in a more palatable format for fans of other genres of music. In that period, the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood toured with the likes Chicago, while Hahn himself sat in as a session musician on Paul Simon's first solo album.

But as life happens, the mid-1970s saw Hahn turn his attention to his growing family, which gave him a chance to dive head first into teaching. In 1972, he became a full-time faculty member at Wichita State University, where he coordinated the curriculum for a degree program in jazz guitar. He repeated this feat in 1995 at Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

"If you've got family and kids, you've got to be responsible," Hahn said. "There was a span of a lot of years where I focused on teaching and didn't concentrate on touring."

But as families do, his children grew and learned to care for themselves. Since 2005, when Hahn recorded and toured with Ginger Baker of Cream, he has made it a point to book a handful of dates across the country each year.

He said he first performed in Lincoln three or four years ago after being invited by the Berman Foundation, and he's excited about what Jazz in June represents to Lincoln.

"My understanding is (Jazz in June) is a pretty big deal," Hahn said. "I'm bringing a great band, and this performance is very important to me."

Hahn will make his way to Lincoln on Monday to conduct a workshop at Dietze Music, 1208 O St., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The focus of the discussion will be on jazz guitar, but Hahn said he'll discuss anything related to jazz.

"I'll be ready to play some tunes since I do some solo stuff, but I do like questions," he said.

Reach Jeremy Buckley at features@journalstar.com.

 

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