On Saturday, April 29, Boynton Hill—and the rest of campus, for that matter—will be alive with the sound of jazz music.
Saturday's event will celebrate a three-way partnership among the New England Jazz Alliance (NEJA), WICN Radio, and the Weiss Jazz History Database at WPI, as well as WPI’s new status as the official home for the New England Jazz Hall of Fame. Established in 2001, the Hall of Fame has been a traveling exhibit: pieces of it would be brought in for concerts and programs, but instead of continuing with a life on the road, the entirety of the Hall of Fame will now have a permanent home in the archives of the Gordon Library. WPI professor and director of jazz studies Rich Falco has a long history with NEJA—from being part of its college of voters tasked with determining who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, to helping them launch their first website, so it seems only fitting that WPI would be chosen as the hall of fame’s new home.
Saturday will also serve as the official launch date for the international wing of the Weiss Jazz History Database, an interactive multimedia museum devoted to preserving “at-risk” jazz artifacts, including music, videos, photos, and articles from and about underrated jazz musicians from the New England area. The database offers an easy-to-use format that encourages invited scholars and researchers to submit content from their own communities, as well.
The database is now in formal partnership between WPI and WICN. Founded in 1969, the radio station was known as the Worcester Intercollegiate College Network, and began in Alden Memorial as a way for Holy Cross and WPI students to broadcast a variety of music genres before eventually becoming a jazz station. Much of its programming helps “keep the community vibrant through the arts,” says Brian Barlow, former executive director and current advisor to WICN.
Although WPI and WICN have worked together on various other projects such as student IQPs and independent study projects, the database takes the partnership to a new level.
While the database will profile artists, WICN will produce and air programming that focuses on those artists. WPI will also work with individuals and institutions around the world, encouraging them to contribute content to the database remotely from their own communities. “While WPI is focusing on the global initiative, we’ll be contributing to the local New England initiative by providing more exposure to artists and their work,” says Tom Bellino, managing director/producer at Planet Arts and a member of the WICN board of directors.
Jeffrey Duquette ’91, president of the WICN board of directors, is also excited about the new partnership. “WPI’s curriculum encourages collaboration and teamwork,” he says. “ ... I am thrilled that a partnership with my two favorite institutions is moving forward. I truly believe that the local and global jazz communities will benefit from their combined effort.”