A veteran of numerous Bay State big bands and Latin ensembles, this trombonist is also a highly regarded educator. He is the Associate Director at the Joy of Music Program (JOMP), where he teaches trombone, jazz ensemble and Afro-Caribbean drumming classes.
Known as the "Jimmy Smith of Worcester," Arsenault was a jazz organist who, for more than 50 years, brought joy to countless listeners. In the early '60s, venues were known to procure Hammond organs just to entice Arsenault to grace the place with his keyboard wizardry.
Trumpeter, bandleader, and former Chair of Music Department, Westfield State College, Bastarache is a pioneer in jazz education. The process of analysis and study has remained a constant throughout his career. The Don Bastarache Big Band has become a New England institution.
Roscoe "Rocky" Blunt
Author, journalist, drummer, and bandleader, Blunt formed one of the first racially integrated jazz ensembles in Central MA. The Rocky Blunt All Stars, featuring Howie Jefferson and Barney Price, is documented on a 1948 recording that can be heard here.
The product of two well-known and influential Boston-area musicians, pianist, arranger, and singer Paul Broadnax was born a child of destiny. His own successful life in music has proven to be a dream fulfilled.
He was a child of destiny. As a kid growing up in Worcester Jaki Byard was surrounded by music and he took to it like a fish – swimmingly. Before his death in 1999, Byard became one of the most influential musicians in the global jazz scene.
A player of impeccable sound and taste, Cancelli has been playing guitar for more than half a century. Throughout the 1950s and '60s he was one of the more in-demand players on the local scene. Today, he remains a working jazz musician who gigs regularly with Joe Holovnia, Chet Williamson, and Dick Odgren, among others.
As a drummer, Capp can best be described as melodic. Music critic Charles Champlin of the L.A. Times put it this way: “Like his idol and friend Buddy Rich, Frank Capp can fancifully be said to play ‘C Melody Drums,’ laying down a solid beat but also accenting the tune almost note for note to generate even more excitement.”
Bassist and banjo player, Clemente was active at an early age. Born in 1910, he formed his first band, Clem's Commodores in 1927. He is undoubtedly one of the first white jazz musicians to come out of Worcester.
A prominent voice in the New England jazz scene, saxophonist Paul Combs is an active performer and educator. He has recently authored the definitive book about the life and music of Tadd Dameron.
During his career, Wendell Culley was a featured soloist on such jazz classics as "Lil' Darlin'" with Count Basie, as well as "Airmail Special" and Midnight Sun with Lionel Hampton. He also appeared on radio, television and on film including: That's the Spirit, Murder with Music, Count Basie at Birdland, Count Basie on the Kraft Music Hall, and Count Basie in Zurich.
Vocalist Linda Dagnello is a fixture in the Central Mass jazz scene. She is not only an accomplished jazz performer, but also a gifted visual artist whose work reflects her passion for the language and colors of jazz.
Trumpeter Fagerquist was one of the brightest stars ever to come out of Worcester. At 17, he was recruited by Gene Krupa. He went on to become lead soloist with Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and Les Brown. His recorded output includes session work with Hoagy Charmichael, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald.
Boston-based jazz trumpeter and composer Gordon first made his indelible mark with the Sabby Lewis Orchestra. In 1952 he landed a dream gig with the legendary Charlie Parker. Recorded at the Hi Hat in Boston, the live performance also features Dick Twardzik, Charles Mingus, and Roy Haynes.
Known for his warm personality and generous sound, trumpeter Haddad had the unique distinction of being one of the very few local performers to support himself entirely by his art. He was a local treasure whose legacy should dispel any notion that hometown heroes can't compete on a national level.
Saxophonist, composer, and arranger Tom Herbert has toured nationally with Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders, The Drifters, The Temptations, and Wayne Newton. He has also led many ensembles under his own name, including the Tom Herbert Big Band.
Pianist, composer, arranger, and educator, Holovnia is best known as a premier bassist. This fact is evidenced in the calls he received from the caliber of artists requesting his services including Serge Chaloff and Boots Mussulli. Holovnia is also a skilled double bass luthier.
Boston-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (drums and vibraphone, most especially), Jackson is best remembered as the founder of the famed Four Notes of Rhythm. Critic George A. Moonoogian described the band as "great entertainers." Focusing on Jackson, he writes, "Clarence did a little of everything well...."
Howard "Howie" Jefferson
Saxophonist Jefferson was a founding father of the Saxtrum Club, one of the earliest known artist-managed jazz collectives and session halls in New England. A robust player whose sound was inspired by the tenor titans of Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Ben Webster, Jefferson carried that majesty to local audiences.
Miriam "Mamie" Moffitt
Born in 1884, pianist, arranger, and educator, Moffit became the seminal figure in the early Central New England jazz scene. In the early 1920s she assembled Mamie Moffitt and Her 5 Jazz Hounds, recognized as the first professional jazz ensemble in Worcester. It could be argued that the group is one of the first female-led orchestras in America.
Jim Jones is a board member of the American Federation of Jazz Societies and became president in early 2006, believing sincerely that America's music - jazz - needs the help of a strong central forum to share ideas for excellence among supportive organizations.
Enrico "Boots" Mussulli
He was known as "The Music Man from Milford," "Mr. Jazz," and the "Little Big Man," but people everywhere more often affectionately called him by his nickname, "Boots" – he was listed that way in the phonebook.
Best known locally for his more than 20 years as the other half of the Emil Haddad/Dick Odgren Duo, pianist Odgren also has an impressive working and recording resume that includes session work with among others, Mike and Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, and Rufus Reid.
Gloucester-born trumpeter, bandleader, and educator Pomeroy was one of the best loved jazz performers of New England. His immense contributions cannot be overestimated. In addition to being a working musician to the end, he was a mentor who helped to put Berklee College of Music on the map.
Elwood "Barney" Price
A founding member of the Saxtrum Club, trumpeter Price had an extensive and enduring impact on the local scene. An active professional from 1929 to 1988, Price received his first trumpet as a Christmas present. He was 13. The horn was broken in by none other than Wendell Culley.
Elwood "Bunny" Price
Bassist, trumpeter, and club owner as well as jam session organizer at both the Kitty Kat and the Hottentotte Lounge, Price is recognized for his enduring passion for the music and readiness to share his knowledge of local jazz history. He is the son of the legendary trumpeter Barney, and the brother of nationally acclaimed drummer Tommy Price.
Radio personality, musician, and educator, Sawyer was a close associate of the late Boots Mussulli. In addition to being a long time student of the legendary saxophonist, Sawyer emceed many of Mussulli-produced shows at the Crystal Ballroom in Milford. Today, he carries the legacy of his mentor by presenting regular concerts featuring his many saxophone students.
Jerry Seeco is an Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. where he has taught for over twenty years. Although perhaps best known for his instrumental performances on the trumpet, flugelhorn, alto flute and flute, Jerry is a prolific arranger of music ranging from classical to pop and jazz. He is also well known as a vocalist for small and large ensembles.
Known to local musicians and audiences alike as "Eddie Sham," drummer and bandleader Shamgochian grew up in the Laurel-Clayton neighborhood of Worcester. It was a predominantly African-American enclave where such notable friends as Jaki Byard, Howie Jefferson, and Barney Price resided. Together they organized the Saxtrum Club, one of the first jazz cooperatives in New England.
Father of the popular bassist Bob Simonelli, the senior Simonelli has been an active player of prominence on the local scene for more then six decades. First as a saxophonist performing in ensembles and big bands, Simonelli is also a pianist who has led his own trios and quartets.
At the age of five Bob recalls performing in a family-organized fundraising variety show. His deep involvement in jazz education and performance has taken him on many international tours. As the founder of the Milton Academy jazz program, he has shared his knowledge (as both an educator and practitioner) to countless students for more than 30 years.
Trombonist Stepton has toured the globe with the best big bands in the world, including those of Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and Artie Shaw. He earned his stripes with Buddy Rich, who called him the best lead trombonist he had ever had in his band. Stepton shares his musical and life experiences in interviews, video and audio recordings.
Tuxedo Classic Jazz Band
Formed in 1976, Tuxedo Classic Jazz Band played "traditional jazz" from the Lu Watters Book. Like the Watters Band, TCJB emphasized ensemble playing while focusing on tunes from the 1920s and '30s. For more than 30 years the band performed its unique historic presentations throughout New England.
Former trombonist, radio personality, founder of Jack's Drum Shop School of Music and Brownstone Records, jazz emcee and educator, Wertheimer has enormously enriched the New England scene. This collection includes an interview with Wertheimer in which he discusses his career as a jazz impresario.
This page is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Wrenn, who was best known as a jazz educator of the highest rank and director of the award-winning Algonquin Regional High School Jazz Band. He died while leading the group on a winter concert tour to Greece in 2009.