In the festival program for the 2015 Central Illinois Jazz Festival, Herald & Review news writer the late Bob Fallstrom, a long time supporter of jazz in the Decatur area, wrote a very nice piece on the history of Juvae and CIJF: “How It Began.” We lost Bob on July 9, 2015 but his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of the many people who knew him and who knew of him. His contributions were many, whether through his writing, through direct support, or as a result of his encouragement to young musicians. Juvae and CIJF benefitted from the frequent and extensive mentions in the Herald & Review and certainly from his input to the creation of the CIJF program. Here is what this talented man had to say about the history of CIJF.
“On a January morning in 1994. A Herald and Review reporter/jazz fan and Mike Osborne, proprietor of City Motors on the near north side of Decatur, talked about the upcoming Central Illinois Jazz Festival. They were not satisfied with the number of bands, four. ‘We need more,’ they agreed.
‘Decatur needs a jazz club, too,’ they agreed. ‘Let’s do something about it.’
They did. At the jazz festival.
At the entrance to Holiday Hall at the Holiday Inn, the site of the jazz festival, the newsman placed a yellow legal tablet and a pen with the notice: ‘Would you support a Decatur Jazz Club? Sign your name, address and telephone number. You’ll be contacted.’
At the end of the festival, the names were counted. Encouragingly, there were enough names for a club.
A meeting was held July 21. Monthly meetings were to be held. Legal papers were completed. Mike Osborne would sell tickets. Bob Fallstrom was named president and chief operating officer. Committees were organized. Concerts were planned. Dues were established at $15 a year.
It was voted to name the club the Juvae Jazz Society, honoring a Forsyth woman, Juvae Marlatt, who had been killed in an automobile mishap in Morrisonville.
The club supported a Barrett Deems Big Band concert in August. We were operational.
Before long we put on a concert at the Elks Club with Bill Allred Classic Jazz Band. More concerts followed.
Maggie Parker-Brown succeeded Fallstrom as Juvae president and before long Juvae Jazz began sponsoring a fifth band in the festival. After the 2001 festival, the Holiday Inn management wanted to drop the festival. ‘You can have it’ Juvae was told.
We needed funding to continue.
We raised the money for the 2002 festival and Parker-Brown took over as festival director and made sweeping improvements. Now it’s 40 years, a magnificent accomplishment.
How It Began II
Dieter Schultz was the Holiday Inn manager who okayed the first festival Jan. 30, 31, Feb 1, 1976. Admission was $5 a session or $17.50 for all four sessions.
The bands were Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm Kings, Chicago Footwarmers, Monte Mountjoy’s Misfits and the Jerry Fuller Quintet. There was an all-star group, too, and Sunday appearances by Medicare 7, 8 or 9 from Champaign and Roger Schueller’s Millikin University Jazz Band.”
Some clarification: when the CIJF was formed, the present Decatur Conference Center Hotel (DCCH) was a part of the Holiday Inn franchise process. In more recent years, the hotel has entered private hands and has become the flagship for a chain of hotels and similar facilities. It has been refurbished as appropriate to a flagship facility and maintains a continuous program of redecoration and modernization. The hotel is a full service facility in every sense of the word and is sized to easily hold CIJF attendees, accessible with more than adequate parking facilities, multiple dining facilities, indoor pool, the new and extensive fitness center, and many other amenities not found in the usual roadside type of facility. It should also be mentioned that Juvae Marlatt, for whom the Society is named, was on her way to a jazz concert in the St. Louis area when the auto accident took place.
In the four decade history of the CIJF it has been the practice to name an honoree each year. Originally the nominees were from a bygone time, and were deceased. In more recent years the practice was changed to recognize the living whose contributions have made CIJF the resounding success it has enjoyed. To date, a name has not been repeated for this honor. This year, because of his decades of stalwart support, his position as a plank owner in the organization, and in general recognition of the loss we all feel at his passing, the CIJF 2016 honoree shall be: The Late Bob Fallstrom, In Grateful Memorium.