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Leslie Callen Hyland, 2016 Jazz Hero


Leslie HylandBack in 1990, Leslie Hyland answered Butch Conn’s request for volunteers to help A Place for Jazz hold its jazz picnic at the Schenectady Unitarian Church celebrating Duke Ellington’s birthday. Every season since then, Leslie has staffed the ticket sales table at A Place For Jazz’s performance series, and she’s become a familiar figure in attendance at jazz events throughout the Capital Region. She’s there for a kind of selfless pleasure. "It has been a great joy,” Leslie says, “to provide support to our local musicians whenever possible."

Leslie has been a jazz fan from an early age. Her father was a singer with local big bands during World War II; she grew up hearing swing and jazz legends on 78 rpm records. Eventually a friend’s father introduced her to hard bop. She has loved all types of music, but the first LPs she ever purchased for herself were jazz.

She studied to be a registered nurse in the historic jazz city of Baltimore, where she was lucky to hear live in concert some of the greats of the '60s and '70s. While residing in Washington DC, a jazz heaven, she joined a jazz association at The Maryland Inn run by guitarist Charlie Byrd. Eventually she moved to the Capital Region, where the music had not been so well-entrenched. Leslie stepped up to help change that.

In the early years of A Place for Jazz, Leslie assisted Butch Conn, our founder, with publicity, marketing to radio stations and maintaining the organization’s Jazz Calendar. After Butch’s death in 2005 she joined the newly formed board of directors and later A Place for Jazz’s advisory committee, working on membership issues and providing support for outreach at festivals. She created the fest’s banner and many of its other visual displays. She recruited and organized students and their teachers to play at concert intermissions -- an innovation that earned good reviews from audiences and performers alike. She has organized and supported jazz photographers in displaying their art at select concerts.

Today Leslie serves as the friendly public face of APFJ, who welcomes all comers. If there’s ever a snafu, she can be depended upon to untangle it. For the past four years she has served as A Place for Jazz’s liaison to the Jazz Journalists Association, smoothing the coordination and organization of the local Jazz Hero celebration, so Leslie Hyland is not at all new to the Jazz Hero concept -- she has lived it and advanced it. We are proud to hail her as an “activist, advocate, altruist, aider and abettor of jazz.”

- Tim Coakley
2013 JJA Jazz Hero
President, A Place for Jazz 
Photo: Albert Brooks


 Other Jazz Heroes: 2012   2013   2014   2015