On Saturday, April 29, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will become the official home of the New England Jazz Alliance Hall of Fame. NEJA established the Hall of Fame in 2001 to honor the contributions of New England jazz musicians and to provide a home to the life works of jazz greats like Jaki Byard, Harry Carney, and Henry “Boots” Mussulli, but until now the exhibits did not have a permanent location. The prestigious distinction will be celebrated with a public music event featuring works by the region’s noted jazz artists as well as a performance by the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra.
In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, the April 29 event will also serve as the official launch of the International Jazz History Database (JHDB), an interactive multimedia museum for jazz enthusiasts, academics, and casual fans. Hosted by WPI and under the direction of Professor Richard Falco, director of jazz studies, the JHDB is composed of thousands of photos, videos, audio recordings, and news clippings focused on artists deserving of wider recognition. The JHDB is dedicated to the digital preservation of "at-risk" jazz artifacts and provides neatly packaged "collections" that will appeal to casual jazz fans while giving jazz educators new materials to use for research and to teach the history of jazz and its evolving language. For more than a decade the JHDB has primarily featured New England artists. Tapping the technological know-how of WPI students and faculty to digitize a vast quantity of material, the updated JHDB can now include international contributions to track the influence of jazz around the world.