In mid-2005 a group of musicians, educators, presenters, jazz writers, and jazz lovers decided it was time to rekindle the excitement about Boston's jazz scene that existed decades earlier when the city was home to some of the most famous jazz clubs in the world. Faced with a jazz community that was very fragmented, we set ourselves the task of bringing together the music's diverse constituencies in a unified effort to change both the perception and the reality of jazz's place in Boston's cultural landscape.
In a series of meetings over the next 6 months, we agreed on some basic principles that continue to guide the way we operate today:
- Our focus would be primarily on service, presenting only when we saw a need we could meet without duplicating existing activities or competing with other organizations.
- We would support the entire jazz community and promote the music in its broadest definition, taking care to avoid any perception of favoritism.
- We would take a collaborative approach that leveraged the talents and resources of all the local stakeholders in the art, education, and business of jazz.
- We would play the role of catalyst and connector to identify the top-priority needs and concerns of the field and marshal the resources to address them.
We assembled a Board of Directors and began to build an Advisory Council that represented the city's entire jazz community. We also invited seven highly respected and stylistically diverse Boston-based musicians to serve as Artistic Advisors to the organization. Through Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, we found a pro bono attorney to lead us through the process of incorporating and gaining tax-exempt status. We were incorporated on January 13, 2006, and held our first Advisory Council meeting three months later. In the spring of 2006, we received our first foundation support, a Vision Fund Grant from The Boston Foundation that provided the basis for our earliest program, Public School Partnerships.
In the fall of 2006, we launched the JazzBoston website to meet the need for a central clearinghouse for all jazz performances and jazz-related activities in the Greater Boston area. We also made the first of our annual appearances at the BeanTown Jazz Festival. We revived Jazz Week as an annual celebration of the music in the spring of 2007 and launched our monthly e-newsletter the following fall. Riffs & Raps, our after-school program for at-risk middle school students, was launched as a pilot with support from the Boston Public Library Foundation in the spring of 2008, and the pilot's closing performance took place during Jazz Week later that spring.
Jazz Week '09 saw the launch of our newest audience-building effort, a multimedia grassroots campaign called "What's Your Jazz?" designed to expand people's perceptions of the music. The campaign's first promotional video was made by world-renowned jazz drummer and Boston native Roy Haynes.