Boston’s Jazz All Night Concert
In the 1970s, Bostonians enjoyed a welcome one-night respite from their long winter blues: the Jazz All Night Concert. This twelve-hour music marathon, held in February at the Church of the Covenant in the Back Bay, brought the jazz congregation together for a night of great music during some difficult and racially charged years.
The Jazz Coalition was the organizing force behind the Jazz All Night concert. Formed in July 1971, this non-profit advocacy group had two goals. The first was pragmatic: to help area musicians find places to play. The second was more ambitious: to bring together like-minded souls in a “jazz community”—a new idea in Boston in 1971. It called on musicians, educators, the media, venue owners, fans—everybody—to come together to create an atmosphere in which jazz could be respected and sustained.
Two of the Jazz Coalition’s founders and prime movers remain as pillars of the Boston jazz scene today: Mark Harvey and Arni Cheatham.
Harvey by 1972 was an ordained Methodist minister, serving at Old West Church on Cambridge Street. He was inspired by the jazz ministry of Rev John Gensel, the pastor of St Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City. In 1970, St Peter’s staged its first All Nite Soul concert, which, Harvey later wrote, was “a heady mix of church pageant, late-night vigil, and after-hours jam session.”
In 1971, looking to spark interest in their new Coalition, Harvey, Cheatham et al. decided to try a similar program at Old West.
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