By Emmett G. Price III –
In the foreword to the playbill of the famed 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. passionately affirmed that, “Jazz speaks for life.” He proclaimed, “Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.” Dr. King’s words are as poignant and timely now as they were then. In fact, it is this sense articulated by Dr. King that drives us at JazzBoston to do what we do.
As JazzBoston celebrates our 10th year of service to Greater Boston and surrounding areas, we are compelled to do even more to better position the creative work of our diverse expressions of jazz to be, in the words of John Coltrane, “a force for good.” As an assemblage of musicians, educators, presenters, writers, business leaders and civic leaders, we are more committed than ever to connect, promote and advocate on behalf of the rich and vast diversity of the creative improvisational music that we all love.
Since 2006 we have been building bridges across the Greater Boston area and beyond. One of our greatest accomplishments in that first year was a Vision Fund Grant from the Boston Foundation to launch our work to connect young people to jazz. A decade later, our Riffs & Raps® programs serve toddlers, adolescents, teens, intergenerational groups and seniors. We have even debuted an after-school intervention for at-risk middle school students using jazz as the main point of engagement.
In 2007, we made the decision to revive and renew a Boston gem – Jazz Week – with the goal of using the weeklong celebration of Jazz to build bridges among the various sectors of the jazz community within and beyond Boston. This year, more than ever before, we can show the bridges we have built with local neighborhoods, City Hall, educational institutions, performance venues, restaurants and private residences. We are awakening and extending a great Boston tradition of availing any and every space available as a location for jazz performance.
After leading attempts in 2012 to strengthen local jazz radio following WGBH’s deep programming cuts, in April 2013 we successfully launched our own 21st century solution. JazzBird®, our free global radio app, offers 24/7 access to hundreds of jazz shows from stations all over the world.
In the same vein, during 2014 we extended our growing voice to advocate for more coverage of our local jazz scene by print and broadcast outlets covering Arts & Culture. To date, we are seeing favorable results, with increased coverage via The Boston Globe and radio and television as well as blogs and social media.
As we embark on our second decade, we are more committed than ever before to amplify Dr. King’s message that “Jazz speaks for life” while leveraging our collective power to manifest Coltrane’s affirmation that we can be a “force for good.” We are even more committed to connect jazz musicians, presenters, advocates and fans; expand the presence of jazz by working together with other non-profits, local community leaders and jazz lovers; and advocate for more jazz coverage, more venues and more resources for jazz musicians. It is our goal to share the opportunity for even more jazz lovers to get involved as we work hard to win new friends and influence even more people to become lovers of jazz.
If you are not a member of JazzBoston, I encourage you to peruse our website and consider supporting us as a donor, volunteer or member!
Emmett G. Price III is CEO and Chairman of the Board of JazzBoston.