Massachusetts – The State of Jazz

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(Caption: Jazz musicians Grace Kelly and Jason Palmer)

Back in the 14th century, when Marco Polo established the Silk Road trade route between Europe and China, he was opening up new connections not just in commerce but also in culture.

With new direct flights between Boston Logan International Airport and Panama City, Dubai, Istanbul and Beijing launching over the past year, the Silk Road metaphor seems apt today. Massachusetts has long been a port of call for commerce and tourism, but also a crossroads for immigration, innovation and ideas. We pride ourselves on being in the mix.

Jazz itself is a well-traveled Silk Road where artistic expression, cultural traditions and creative ideas are happily exchanged. From its humble beginnings, jazz has carved out an intrepid path that winds its way throughout the world, carrying musical riches far beyond its original borders, and returning home with equal riches from cultures around the world.

The 6th annual MassJazz Guide expounds upon this theme by showcasing some of the international musicians who make up the state’s jazz community, including:

. Xiongguan Zhang of China, a guitarist from Shanghai Conservatory of Music who is studying jazz at the New England Conservatory.

. Utar Artun of Turkey, a composer and multi-instrumentalist at Hacettepe University who came to Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, and is studying for his master’s degree at New England Conservatory.

. Panos Panay, a native of Cyprus who is heading up the new Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music. Panos started Sonicbids, a leading platform for bands to book gigs and market themselves online.

. Emilio Lyons, who hails from Salerno, Italy, was recently honored by the Jazz Journalists Association and JazzBoston for his decades-long work as the legendary saxophone repairman at Rayburn Music.

The 2014 MassJazz Guide, published by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, celebrates Massachusetts’ robust jazz scene, which includes festivals, jazz clubs and educational programs. There is a vibrant grassroots scene, including jazz drummers Bart Weisman and Stanley Swann, who keep the music robust here in Massachusetts; radio hosts Christopher Lydon and Jose Masso, who share their love and knowledge of jazz with their listeners; and music emissaries Sue Auclair and Fred Taylor, whose influence in the jazz world far exceeds this locality.

Jazz is an important part of the cultural and artistic environment that helps make Massachusetts a great place to live, work, study and visit. It is part of the Massachusetts creative economy, which employs over 100,000 people and generates over $1 billion in economic impact for the state.

MassJazz Guide is available at visitor centers, jazz venues and college campuses across the state. Find up to date details on live jazz in Massachusetts at