Would you believe that a non-profit organization devoted to presenting jazz concerts could start in a suburb of Boston and flourish there for more than thirty years? But that is exactly the story of Highland Jazz, Inc. It had a clear mission: to promote professional l musicians from the Boston area and to make jazz accessible to a suburban audience. Like most grass-roots organizations no one thought very much about legacy, history or even how many years the organization would last. Surviving from one concert to the next was the primary concern.
Why did I become involved? I have loved jazz since I was a teenager and actually dreamed of becoming a professional piano player. Two summer sessions at the Berklee College of Music convinced me that I didn’t have the gift. However, during that time I met many Boston-based musicians; I even helped several of them get gigs around town.That is how I learned first-hand how few performance opportunities existed for an enormously talented group of people.
I started Highland Jazz in 1983 with Mario Boccabella, a local restauranteur who owned three businesses in Newton Highlands, MA. I retired from the organization in 2003 after producing more than 175 concerts. Hank Solomon then took over as Director and has continued to present outstanding concerts, making Highland Jazz the oldest community-based jazz organization in Massachusetts. In this history I have included photographs, music links and some interesting anecdotes from my twenty years as Director. Wherever possible I have included a section called “Where are the now” with up-to-date information about the performers.