April 21, 2007: Welcome Back, Jazz Week!
JazzBoston kicked off a renewed and revived Boston Jazz Week, the first in 24 years, on April 21, 2007.
From 1973 to 1983, the Boston’s Jazz Coalition sponsored Jazz Week, an annual springtime burst of energy that found jazz music in venues likely and unlikely, at all times of day, and played by a few name bands and many local ones.
Saxophonist, photographer and activist Arni Cheatham was the Vice President of the Jazz Coalition in 1981, and at the start of Jazz Week that year, he told the Boston Globe’s Ernie Santosuosso: “The overall idea of Boston Jazz Week from the beginning was to show people who live here that, sure, there’s a considerable thrill to hearing a name artist, but there is as much good music happening in a setting with the people who live here and who are as serious about their craft and who are excellent performers as well. We hope to stimulate interest in them and to assist in audience development for these artists.”
Jazz Week ended after 1983, at a time jazz appeared to be stronger here than it had been in many years, due in no small part to the work of the Jazz Coalition.
In 2007 came the revival, sponsored this time by JazzBoston, a new organization but one that included some of those Jazz Coaltion people, including Cheatham. Jazz Week 2007 followed the same playbook as earlier years, with a few name bands but many more local ones. Among them were Salim Washington, Phil Wilson, Marianne Solivan, Jerry Bergonzi, Cercie Miller, Jason Palmer, Ray Santisi, Marta Gomez, Ken Field, and a 14-year-old wunderkind with a saxophone, Grace Kelly. All were, as Cheatham noted in 1981, excellent performers and serious about their craft.
Jazz Week 2007 was greeted with enthusiasm and a sense of “welcome back.” It’s still back: this year JazzBoston is sponsoring its seventh edition, Jazz Week 2013, and we get to be surprised all over again by how much is going on around town.
There is a complete schedule online, but I would be remiss if I did not close the circle on this post. On Sunday April 28 at Wally’s Cafe, Arni Cheatham will be recognized as a 2013 Jazz Hero, an annual honor bestowed by the Jazz Journalists Association. Arni’s award will be presented by past recipients including Eric Jackson of WGBH, Pauline Bilsky of JazzBoston, and Evelyn Walcott and her family, the proprietors of Wally’s Cafe.
Here is audio of Arni in action, in a 2012 session recorded in the studio at WGBH, when Cheatham and group were guests on Eric Jackson’s program.