[JPL] Legendary Boston jazz hotspot honored with historical marker
drjazz at drjazz.com
Mon Jan 26 10:22:30 EST 2009
Legendary Wally's jazz hotspot honored with historical marker
January 25, 2009
The jazz legends jammed there - Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Art
Blakey. Fledgling musicians honed their skills there. And locals still
flock there to hear their favorite jazz bands.
For more than 60 years, Wally's Cafe Jazz Club has livened up the nights
along Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus Avenue, once the heart of
Boston's black community. On Friday, the Bostonian Society will honor
Wally's with a historical marker, citing the establishment as "the last
surviving reminder of Boston's jazz heyday."
"It is a living landmark, especially because so many of the sites that
we see are no longer in existence," said Samantha Nelson of the
The society's historic markers program recognizes the contributions to
the city of individuals, groups, and historic buildings, as well as
places and events. So far, it has placed 150 such markers in Boston's
neighborhoods, Nelson said.
The club got its start in 1947, when Joseph L. Walcott, a native of
Barbados, opened its doors on Mass. Ave. At the time, other nightclubs
dotted the scene. But while places like the High Hat and Savoy Ballroom
faded away, Wally's survived.
Its secret: hard work and family commitment, said Elynor L. Walcott, the
daughter of the founder, who now runs Wally's with her three sons.
"First of all, I'm grateful to God for it," Walcott said of the
historical marker. "It's recognition of my father's hard work and his
creation of Wally's Cafe. It's a testimony to his hard work."
Today, Wally's - now located across the street, at 427 Mass. Ave. -
hosts nightly jazz bands, and students still see it as a training ground.
The green plaque is made of porcelain enamel and has cream lettering
spelling out the name of the club. Though it was installed Jan. 14, the
formal presentation will occur at 4 p.m. Friday. A reception will follow.
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