Musician of the Year Award

In the year 2000, the West Michigan Jazz Society began honoring our outstanding local musicians beginning in the year 2000, by electing a "Musician of the Year." Our honorees thus far include:

2019 - Fred Knapp - Drums

2018 - Bob Nixon - Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon

2017 - Robin Connell - Piano

2016 - Terry Lower - Piano

2015 - Mike Lutley - Saxes, Flute, and Clarinet

2014 - Max Colley III - Trumpet & Drums

2013 - Randy Marsh - Drums

2012 - Mark Kahny - Piano and Vocals

2011 - Edye Evans Hyde - Vocal Stylist

2010 - John Shea - Piano

2009 - Dick Reynolds - Piano

2008 - Steve Talaga - Piano

2007 - Tom Hagen - Piano, Guitar, Clarinet

2006 - Mary Rademacher - Vocal Stylist

2005 - Elgin Vines - Bass

2004 - Tim Froncek - Percussion

2003 - Ray Gill - Tenor Sax

2002 - Mel Dalton - Sax

2001 - Paul Keller - String Bass

2000 - Curt Purnell - Sax

Bruce Early Jazz Educators Award

W.M.J.S has a new annual award!Bruce Early

This award will be given in Bruce Early's name to the Jazz Educator of the year by the W.M.J.S. Dr. Bruce Early (1939-1998) was the area's premier educator, band leader, performer, adjudicator, and contractor in the Grand Rapids area as well as the Mid-west. He taught at Aquinas College and organized an annual jazz festival and summer jazz ca
mp besides being a conductor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He nurtured young talent and gave them an environment to gain experience to perfect their craft. So this award will continue his legacy as well as give acknowledgment and thanks to each recipient.

Each recipient will not only be selected by their teaching talent but by their support and caring of the direction that our young jazz musician's paths may take. West Michigan has many devoted and talented educators and this will be a way thanking and acknowledgment for their expertise.

On June 2016 the first award was presented to Max Colley II. His dedication, drive, enthusiasm, as well as Northview High ScMax Colley IIhool's unparalleled competition record at jazz festivals, has been an inspiration to all who are involved in jazz education and have been jazz enthusiasts for years! Max inspired not only his students but everyone around him. He welcomed other teachers to share their knowledge which in turn gave his students unlimited knowledge and experiences to learn from. Max has retired from teaching but still keeps in touch with many of his "kids" through out the country. He is still sharing his enthusiasm and caring for other peoples lives and accomplishments.