Inductee Spotlight: Serge Chaloff
Baritone sax virtuoso Serge Chaloff became one of the masters at bridging the elements of swing and bebop.
NEJA Fall Conference 2003: Hartford

The New England Jazz Alliance held its first fall conference at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford on Saturday, Oct. 11 with jazz organizations from five of the six New England states represented (see List of Participants). Highlights included:

  • Election or re-election of 13 members of the NEJA Board of Directors.
  • Restatement of guidelines and eligibility standards for the New England Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • Introduction of new candidates for the Hall of Fame.
  • Announcement and demonstration of NEJA's history/archival Web site (here at
  • Resolutions to connect NEJA initiatives to the curricula at every level of education (K-college).
Board Elections

In the NEJA board elections, the conference re-elected Mae Arnette, Marce Enright, Frank Haigh, Chuck Obuchowski, Burt Walker and Rose Marie White for three-year terms, and Bob Eshback for a two-year term. Joining the board for the first time were Juanita Johnson of Boston; Doug Morrill of Bethany, Conn.; Eugene Uman of Brattleboro, Vt.; Paul Verrette of Lee, N.H.; Paul Combs of Cambridge, Mass.; and Lloyd Kaplan of Providence, R.I. All but Morrill, who was elected for three years, will serve two-year terms.

Hall of Fame

The Conference adopted some new guidelines for the New England Jazz Hall of Fame nominations. By unanimous consent, it was agreed that nominees receiving ten or more votes in 2001 be included on the next nominees list, along with the jazz artists who received at least two write-in votes in 2001. Nominees who fell off the list will not be forgotten. They will remain on NEJA's master list of New England musicians, and efforts will continue to gather more information and biographical material on them, which may well result in their renomination in the future.

NEJA president Brent Banulis announced that NEJA hopes to conduct a new Hall of Fame poll this winter and announce the names of five new inductees in early April 2004, with an updated exhibit to follow.

Also in Hartford, Board member Ed Bride proposed the inclusion of non-musicians into the Hall of Fame. NEJA has long been calling attention to major contributions to the New England jazz scene by promoters and educators such as Father Norman O‘Connor, Bob Share and Stephanie Barber. Some attendees felt they should be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, and others felt they should be remembered in a separate category, perhaps with a special award of recognition. The Hall of Fame committee in Hartford agreed to include the question with the next Hall of Fame ballot mailing.

Representatives from the Hartford Jazz Society, the Vermont Jazz Center, Jazz Haven (New Haven), the Seacoast Society (New Hampshire), the Cape Cod Jazz Society, and the Publishing Consortium (Rhode Island) as well as the NEJA Board of Directors submitted names for Hall of Fame consideration. The nominees: cornetist Ruby Braff, pianist/composer Ralph Burns, New Haven jazz artists and mentors Bobby and Eddie Buster, pianist/band leader/educator Dean Earl, New Hampshire pianist/mentor/producer Tommy Gallant, saxophonist/composer Gigi Gryce, vocalist Arthur Prysock, saxophonist/composer Jackie Stevens, and guitarist/composer/mentor Attila Zoller.

Paul Brown, Unsung Hero

NEJA presented its first Unsung Hero award to jazz bassist and educator Paul Brown, for producing free concerts in Hartford's Bushnell Park for 37 years.

Brent Banulis and Mae Arnette present Paul Brown with NEJA's first "Unsung Hero" award (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO)

Film maker Rebecca Abbott drew rave reviews after the showing of her "Unsung Heroes: The Story of Jazz in New Haven."
Web Site

The conferees were universally impressed by a demonstration by Rich Falco and Jeremy Hitchcock from Worcester Polytechnic Institute on how to use NEJA's new New England Jazz History archival Web site, and all agreed that the initiative to involve more researchers, students and authors should be pursued throughout New England.

Spreading the Word

Regarding NEJA's educational mission, all agreed to pursue dialogues with other organizations dedicated to jazz as an art form and a social and cultural force. Avenues for future discussion were offered by Andy Jaffe of Williams College, who invited NEJA and its Hall of Fame exhibit to next April's Williamstown (Mass.) Collegiate Jazz Festival, and Larry Ridley, director of the African American Jazz Caucus, who extended an invitation to all NEJA members to the Caucus gatherings during the International Association for Jazz Education Conference in New York, Jan. 21-24.

Board of Director Resolutions
Resolution 1

We, of the NEJA Board of Directors, hereby acknowledge and thank those who helped establish the New England Jazz Alliance and the New England Jazz Hall of Fame: the NEJA membership, the Hall of Fame voters, and especially the following former or outgoing Board members:

  • Jerry Edwards, Harold "Bunky" Emerson, Jimmy Neil and Sonny Watson, former members of Boston Musicians Local 535
  • Nancy Alimansky of Highland Jazz
  • Nick Puopolo (now NEJA's chief photographer)
  • Sissy Smith of the Boston Jazz Society
  • Ed Keane of Keane Productions
Resolution 2

We, of the NEJA Board of Directors, hereby acknowledge and pay homage to those members of the New England Hall of Fame College of Voters who have died since the last Hall of Fame polling in 2001 —

  • Bill Berry: trumpeter, bandleader
  • Ruby Braff: cornet player, Louis Armstrong disciple
  • Ralph Burns: pianist, composer
  • Dean Earl: pianist, bandleader, mentor, educator
  • Vinnie Haynes: historian, lecturer, "picture-taker"
  • Bill "Sonny" Jones: drummer, Local 535 member
  • Eric Nisenson: author, keen observer of music culture
  • Cathy Blish Pierce: vocalist, founder of "Musicians' Wives"
  • William Russo: composer, conductor, educator
  • Jackie Stevens: saxophonist, composer

In the session dealing with the rules for the New England Jazz Hall of Fame, (from left) Jesse Hameen, Alicia Zoller, Alfred Cox, Tom Reney, Rose Marie White, Mike Reichbart and Barbara Rucker ponder the guidelines for determining the next Hall inductees.

Paul Combs reads message from the Seacoast Jazz Society on the Hall of Fame nomination of New Hampshire pianist Tommy Gallant.

Howard Brofski and Alicia Zoller made a strong case for the Hall of Fame nomination of guitarist Attila Zoller.

(From left) Forrest Adams, Larry Ridley, Bill Measom (foreground), Ted Belastock, Mae Arnette and Brent Banulis listen to ideas concerning NEJA's Hall of Fame.

During the discussion on jazz history in the curriculum, Andy Jaffe, director of Jazz Studies at Williams College, let NEJA know that the New England Jazz Hall of Fame exhibit will be included in next April's Williamstown Collegiate Jazz Festival.

(From left) Ron Gill, Barbara Bishop, Marce Enright, Forrest Adams, Alfred Cox and Rose Marie White took advantage of a lovely Saturday afternoon with a outdoor lunch break.

Elections Committee chairwoman Barbara Bishop (left) joins honorary conference chairwoman Mae Arnette in the Wilde Auditorium to announce the nominees for NEJA's Board of Directors (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).

Larry Ridley, director of the African American Jazz Caucus, opened the door for NEJA to become an ally during the Jan. 21-24 conference of the International Association for Jazz Education in New York.

Greg Abate drove in from Rhode Island just in time to join Eugene Uman (piano), Nat Reeves (bass) and Malik Washington (drums) for a musical tribute to Hall of Fame nominee Jackie Stevens (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).

Howard Brofski returned to the Wilde Auditorium stage to join Greg Abate in a tribute to Hall of Fame nominee Jackie Stevens (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).

Mae Arnette and Ron Gill joined the band for a vocal duet to honor NEJA friends recently lost, including Vinnie Haynes, Dean Earl and Sonny Jones (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).

Malik Washington, who now splits his time between Boston and New York and celebrated his 18th birthday during the conference, contributed some fine drumming and also significant insights during the panel discussion on jazz in the curricula (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).

The Real Ambassadors from the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts gave several jazz tunes a new twist (STUART FELDMAN PHOTO).