BJA President’s Report 2017

What does jazz mean to you? Why do you love it… to play, to listen to, to see in action? I guess for every one of us there’s a different answer, probably many different answers; some relish the intellectual complexity, others the abstract freedom, or the bluesy soul. For some it’s the individualism, the ability to speak one’s own voice almost independent of the audience or the other musicians; for others, it’s the communication between the players – and even the audience – that’s crucial. It can be forward-looking, experimental, and progressive, and also historical and even nostalgic. For some it can soothe and relax, for others, inspire and even agitate. But whether it’s cool or hot, inside or way out, we all love it and want to see it continue to thrive in Baltimore. That’s been the goal of the BJA for more than a dozen years now, and we are as committed as ever to helping to support the local jazz scene in every way that we can.


How are we doing this? Of course, this year we inaugurated what we hope will become a new Baltimore tradition – the Baltimore Jazz Fest – which aims to introduce new audiences to the thriving jazz scene and the great talent that our city has to offer. We also continue be the most comprehensive source of information about ongoing and upcoming jazz events – and the local scene in general –  in the Baltimore area, through our website and newsletter, as well as our Facebook page and group. We’ve continued to educate and reach out to the public to help spread the word about Baltimore’s great venues, jam session, and many talented artists. And as an extension of the Jazz Fest we’ve entered into a partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation & Parks to help bring more jazz to our neighborhoods and to help strengthen Baltimore City’s commitment to its jazz scene (more on this soon).


So what’s next? More of the same! We are working on the Baltimore Jazz Fest 2017, and making contingency plans for a rain-free event. We’re working hard to improve our web site to make it even easier to list events on our calendar and find out the best info about what’s happening in the scene. We’ll continue to do outreach – to schools, to the crowds at Artscape and other events, and through our website and newsletter. And we want to try to include even more of the voices of those many angles of jazz; we know that some people in some parts of jazz scene feel that we’re not focusing enough on them, and we want to change that. We want to represent all the facets of our jazz community, from the most traditional to the most avant garde, from the smoothest to the wildest. Why? Not to enhance the BJA, not to make ourselves more successful, but to do what we can to enhance our entire scene, to help audiences and artists (and venues) connect no matter what their understanding of jazz. And to anyone who feels the the BJA is not adequately serving some part of the jazz community, I urge you – get involved! Make our voice your voice! How?


  • Become a member – your membership dollars give us the ability to do more outreach and informing.
  • Post your events on our calendar; I can’t stress this enough – the calendar is there for you to spread the word, and thousands of people view it each month. Don’t let this free opportunity for exposure pas you by.
  • Volunteer – talk to the crowds at Artscape, write for our newsletter and website, help maintain our web site, help recruit members; from as little as making a suggestion, to as as much as joining the board, or joining a committee to focus on a specific task, every bit of help goes a long way. Remember, we’re an all-volunteer organization, here only because we all love jazz and want to see it thriving in Baltimore, and we think we can accomplish more together than on our own – that’s the Alliance in BJA.
  • Finally, communicate – if you think there’s something we should be doing (or doing differently), let us know. If you have a great idea and think we can help, let us know. If you know of some new venue, or some new happening that we might be missing, let us know! Our aim is to promote the entire jazz community, and that means all of you.


Thanks so much to everyone who has helped already – to our members, volunteers, board members, sponsors, and partners. And thanks to all those out there performing, presenting, and listening to jazz in the Baltimore area – happy New Year and best wishes for a jazz-filled 2017.