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Glenn Siegel honored for his advocacy for jazz

  • Valley jazz advocate and concert producer Glenn Siegel has been named a 2019 “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Photo courtesy Jazz Journalists Association

  • Valley jazz advocate and concert producer Glenn Siegel has been named a 2019 “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association. Gazette file photo



Staff Writer
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Glenn Siegel, the longtime Valley jazz advocate and producer of concerts such as the Magic Triangle Jazz Series, has been named a 2019 “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA).

The association, a nonprofit group made up of writers, photographers, videographers and broadcasters who cover jazz, has since 2010 made the award annually to what it calls “activists, advocates, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz" across the country.

Siegel, who has been producing concerts and championing jazz musicians in the Valley for over 30 years, is one of 20 winners honored this year by the association. He’ll receive his award April 24 at the Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before the concluding concert of Magic Triangle’s 30th anniversary season.

In an email, Siegel said he was honored to receive the award and was interested to see that the other JJA winners all hail from “large, urban areas. Amherst is the exception, and I’m proud there is so much jazz activity in our rural, but erudite region.”

He also said energy and stamina have never been an issue for him when it comes to promoting jazz, even after 30 years. “My love for the music, and my admiration and respect for those who make it, sustains me.”

He noted as well that plugging concerts of big-name jazz players hasn’t been a problem, but that promoting the work of talented but lesser-known musicians can be a challenge

“For every Joshua Redman or Chick Correa, there are dozens of master musicians who toil in the shadows for meager fees,” he said “I have always seen my mission as providing recognition and paydays to these artists who have devoted their lives to this art form with little prospect for fame or fortune.”

Along with starting Magic Triangle and a number of other jazz series and festivals— Bright Moments, Solos and Duos — at UMass, Siegel also began the Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares program several years ago, in which jazz fans can prepay for concerts the way people do for a weekly pickup of vegetables and other produce from area farms.

Along with curating some 275 concerts over the years with a huge range of players — Cecil Taylor, Yusef Lateef, Fred Anderson, Ray Barretto and Sam Rivers, to name just a few — Siegel has written and broadcasted about jazz.

For many years, he was an administrative advisor to WMUA-91.1FM at UMass Amherst, training students and the community in all facets of radio. In addition, he produced “Jazz in Silhouette,” a Friday morning program at the station; he has also served as a guest host of “Jazz a la Mode” and “Jazz Safari” on New England Public Radio.

Valley drummer Marty Ehrlich writes on the JJA website that Siegel “has enriched this region with a universe of music beyond it, concert after concert, over the airwaves, online and in person…. Glenn, you have our deepest thanks.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.