Inductee Spotlight: Sonny Stitt
A formidable alto and tenor saxophonist, Sonny Stitt blew blues, ballads and bop on stages from Sydney to Stockholm to San Francisco—and still found time to record over 100 albums.
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About the New England Jazz Alliance

The “pre-history” of the New England Jazz Alliance began in early 1997, when Brent Banulis, a resident of East Boston, hoped to establish a New England jazz center on the East Boston waterfront. That part of town was a jewel in the rough then, underutilized but with a spectacular view of Boston’s skyline. Banulis envisioned a center that would be part teaching facility, part museum, and part performance space—all in an inspirational setting that would draw residents and visitors alike.

Banulis pitched his idea to anyone who would listen, but neither the City of Boston, nor its major cultural and financial institutions, were interested in an independent, nonprofit center dedicated to jazz on prime waterfront acreage. What Banulis learned, however, was that there was interest in a hall of fame that honored the great jazz tradition in New England. And if there was no support for a physical location to house it, perhaps he could make it portable, and bring it to locations throughout the region.

The result was the founding of the New England Jazz Alliance by Banulis and others who shared his interest in a hall of fame. This group of volunteer individuals established the New England Jazz Hall of Fame in December 2001. At that time they named the first ten inductees, as chosen by 172 knowledgeable voters. They created a traveling exhibit in April 2002 and debuted it with a month-long presentation, concert series, and children’s program at the Tremont Theater in Boston’s Theater District.

Since that historic April series, NEJA has produced Hall of Fame programs at venues throughout the region including Cape Cod Community College in Hyannis, MA, the Fishtown Music Fest in Gloucester, Cloud Place in Boston, and Bryant College in Smithfield, RI. NEJA continues to work to preserve and promote the rich musical history of the region through the New England Jazz Hall of Fame.

Contacts

WPI Jazz Hall of Fame Faculty Curator