Inductee Spotlight: Joe Gordon
He played in the big bands of Herb Pomeroy and Dizzy Gillespie, but trumpeter Joe Gordon, a brilliant improviser, sparkled in the small groups of Art Blakey, Harold Land and Shelly Manne.
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2003 Unsung Hero Awards

NEJA initiated its Unsung Hero award in 2003, recognizing as its first recipient Paul Brown, a true local hero from Hartford.

Photo of Paul Brown
Paul Brown (Photo by Mike Williams)
Paul Brown: bassist, educator, producer
Paul Brown: born Mar. 6, 1934 in Baltimore, MD; died May 6, 2016 in Hartford, CT

Paul Brown, acclaimed bassist and educator at the Hartford Academy for the Arts, received NEJA’s first “Unsung Hero” award on October 11, 2003 during NEJA’s conference at the University of Hartford. He was given special recognition for his 35-plus years of work as producer of the Monday Night Jazz Series in Hartford, recognized by the Library of Congress as the oldest and longest running free jazz festival in the United States. The series was a community treasure, enabling hundreds of thousands of listeners to enjoy summer performances by jazz giants such as Clark Terry, Cannonball Adderley, Thelonious Monk, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Charles Mingus and Thad Jones.

Brown was the founder of the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, as well as co-founder of Hartford’s Artists Collective, Inc. Active for years in music education, Brown taught at University of Hartford and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts.