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.
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.”