[JPL] Legendary Boston jazz hotspot honored with historical marker

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Mon Jan 26 10:22:30 EST 2009


SOUTH END


  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 
Bostonian Society.

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.

MEGHAN IRONS 

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Dr. Jazz
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