In Boston Every Week Is Jazz Week

Jazz Week is a collaborative effort of Greater Boston’s jazz community to celebrate the music and our vital local scene. JazzBoston provides the catalyst and framework, and promotes all events under the Jazz Week umbrella. We also produce several free or low-cost special events that advance our mission and our vision for Boston. 

A few years ago, we tried to explain Jazz Week to legendary drummer and Roxbury native Roy Haynes. He didn’t get it. “For me,” he said, “every week is Jazz Week.” And that’s the whole point –­ in Boston, every week is Jazz Week. The 10-day celebration each spring throws a floodlight on the extraordinary scene that’s here year round.

Jazz Week 2016 kicks off on Friday, April 22, and runs for a busy 10 days through May 1. As always, it is scheduled to tie into the national observance of April as Jazz Appreciation Month and, since 2012, International Jazz Day on April 30.

Highlighting the strength and renewability of Boston’s rich jazz heritage, one of our city’s most distinctive features, the theme of Jazz Week 2016 is New Jazz Traditions, starting with Jazz Week itself.

If you are a musician, venue or presenter with an event during Jazz Week, click here to find out how to submit it to the JazzBoston/ArtsBoston shared calendar. And whether you’re an aficionado, casual fan, or newcomer, we urge you to visit the calendar often. Event listings are updated daily, and many events are free or low cost just for Jazz Week. We guarantee you’ll find something that interests you.

View the 2016 JazzWeek Calendar
Submit an Event

Jazz Week 2016: New Jazz Traditions

How long does it take to establish a tradition? In these accelerated times, we think 10 consecutive years is enough. Jazz Week, revived by JazzBoston in 2007, has become a Boston tradition and is establishing some traditions of its own. We think of these JazzBoston special events as new traditions in the making:

  • The Makanda Project, Roxbury’s resident orchestra, returns to the grand ballroom of Hibernian Hall on April 23 for the second annual Makanda Saturday Night Gala Dance Party.
  • The second annual Mattapan Speaks Jazz Community Celebration unfolds at the William E. Carter Post on May 1, with Frank Wilkins and his WeJazzUp band onstage once again.
  • Another historic organization follows in the Carter Post’s footsteps to become a community jazz destination when the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the oldest African Masonic lodge in the U.S. and the only one chartered by a King of England, debuts a new jazz series in its own club. Jazz returns to Biff’s Lounge with a Jazz Week kickoff dance party on April 22, featuring the Athene Wilson Band. JazzBoston co-hosts as part of our Neighborhoods Initiative.
  • All Jazzed Up at City Hall describes the scene when JazzBoston, invited by Council President Michelle Wu, returns on April 27 for the third year to celebrate Jazz Week and International Jazz Day on the Mezzanine and in the City Council Chamber. Ken Field’s Revolutionary Snake Ensemble does the honors again this year.
  • It’s also the third year for House Concerts, the successors to the 70s loft scene that bring friends and neighbors together for intimate listening experiences in a music lover’s home. JazzBoston assists in matching hosts and ensembles and advises on logistics. Write to to find out if there’s a House Concert in your neighborhood or learn more about hosting one yourself.
  • For the sixth year, JazzBoston and Wally’s Café co-host the Boston Jazz Heroes Party for recipients of the Jazz Journalists Association’s annual award. Syd Smart and Leonard Brown are this year’s Jazz Heroes, honored for founding the John Coltrane Memorial Concert (JCMC) and passionately stewarding it for 39 years. On April 23, jazz radio host Eric Jackson presents the awards, and Stan Strickland leads the band.
  • It’s been seven years since student ensembles from New England Conservatory became part of the Jazz Week vibe by giving free concerts in high-traffic public places all around town. This year they hit the road on April 30 in colorfully marked minivans for A Moveable Celebration of International Jazz Day that takes them to Boston’s neighborhoods for pop-up performances in shopping malls, squares, plazas, parks, and parking lots.

More JazzBoston Special Events

A Musical Tribute to Three Boston Jazz Giants

On April 29 JazzBoston and the Museum of African American History present A Musical Tribute to Three Boston Jazz Giants and launch the campaign to create a Boston Jazz Heritage Trail.

We will honor three of Boston’s living jazz legends: singer Mae Arnette, who came to be known as “Boston’s First Lady of Song; composer/pianist Ran Blake, who composer Gunther Schuller called “…an incredible, innovative, unique genius”; and drummer Roy Haynes, dubbed by NPR “the greatest living jazz drummer.” A reception with the honorees will be followed by a tribute concert featuring Yoron Israel and High Standards with surprise guests. Storytelling by radio host and jazz historian Eric Jackson and leaders of the hosting organizations will connect Boston’s social and cultural history with its unique jazz heritage and current jazz scene.

This event takes place at the historic African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, where concerts were performed in the 19th century.

Good Music = Good Health, a Jazzy Health-and-Wellness Fair

On April 30, International Jazz Day, the Lung Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, JazzBoston, and Roxbury Tenants of Harvard present the Good Music = Good Health Jazz Fair at the RTH Outdoor Plaza, an all-ages, multilingual event to raise awareness of the importance of lung health and the joy of making music with neighbors. Three of Boston’s most talented educators/performers – Stan Strickland, Arni Cheatham and Jason Palmer – will teach participants basic techniques for blowing a horn or jazzing up a song, then lead them in collective music-making using a variety of small wind instruments. Other activities, interspersed with BWH’s health and wellness booths, include an instrument petting zoo, tests and contests of lung power with great prizes, and a jam session finale.

Listening Party with Jason Palmer

On April 28, trumpeter Jason Palmer, internationally recognized as a major voice in contemporary jazz, hosts a Listening Party at Pastoral, one of Fort Point’s most popular restaurants. Jason will play recordings from a variety of Boston-affiliated jazz musicians and offer his commentary in a conversation open to all. An opportunity to hear and talk jazz in an informal setting.

The Boston Creative Jazz Scene, Then and Now

On May 1 at the Piano Craft Gallery, the wild and woolly free jazz era of the 1970s comes to life at The Boston Creative Jazz Scene, Then and Now, an event inspired by the new, critically acclaimed Cultures of Soul album with an historical essay by musician Mark Harvey. Conversations with musicians featured on the album – Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, and Mark – alternate with improvised music by the veterans and their intrepid counterparts of today’s generation.

Local Festivals Participating in Jazz Week

Venues and presenters in neighboring towns are increasingly scheduling their own festivals and special events to coincide with Jazz Week and share the attention it generates. Two outstanding examples this year:

  • Thelonious Monkfish Jazz Festival, 11 nights of instrumental and vocal jazz by top area artists in the Jazz Baroness Room of the popular Cambridge sushi and Asian fusion restaurant, festival debut April 21 – May 1.
  • A-Town Jazz Festival, Performances by stars and up-and-comers showcasing Arlington’s flourishing jazz scene at various locations throughout the town, extended to 3 days for the festival’s 5th anniversary, April 29 – May 1.

For details on these and more than 100 other Jazz Week events – including visiting headliners such as Kenny Barron and Spyro Gyra – see the Jazz Week ’16 Schedule of Events. A Jazz Week brochure is also available at sites in and around the city, including clubs, libraries, visitors centers, hotels, museums, galleries, and schools.

JazzBoston thanks these organizations for their generous support of Jazz Week 2016.