About the Des Moines Community Jazz Center Hall of Fame

Des Moines may not be the JAZZ "capital of the world", but that hasn't stopped the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center (CJC) from recognizing the musical contribuitions of the city's finest and most influential musicians.

Started in 2001, the Des Moines Jazz Hall of Fame was established to hoor those musicians who have been proud to call Des Moines (or Central Iowa) home. Musicians selected for the Des moines Jazz Hall of Fame have not only influenced future generations of musicians, but have provided the city's jazz fans with years of musical adventure and enjoyment.

Each October since 2001, Des Moines' jazz fans have gathered at Adventureland Inn in Altoona (just east of Des Moines) to celebrate the contributions of many talented and dedicated individuals.  In addition, the CJC presents Special Recognition awards to musicians, jazz educators, promoters or others that have contributed to the JAZZ tradition in Central Iowa.   Another Award known as "The Bobby Dawson Award" is also presented to a student musician involved in CJC jam sessions and activities.  For information on upcoming Hall of Fame events, contact Phyllis Leaverton at 515 / 276-0777.

Hall of Fame

Jerry Stenstrom -2005 Inductee

Jerry Stenstrom has been one of the busiest musicians in Des Moines as he has been performing constantly and in a variety of formats ranging from orchestras, dance bands, circuses and sports shows since he was in 10th grade. Jerry practiced with jazz records while attending Roosevelt High School and led an all city high school dance band in 11th and 12th grades. He also played many jobs with CJC Hall of Fame recipient Speck Redd around this time.

After graduation, Jerry was a regular with the Ralph Zarnow and Keith Killinger orchestras. He studied music at Drake in 1949 before joining the Iowa Air National Guard during the Korean War. He led a band at the NCO club in Bangor, Maine and played and wrote music for the SAC Jazz Band at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska in 1952. 

Jerry attended Westlake College of Music (the country’s only jazz school at the time) in Hollywood, California in 1953. He worked regularly in Los Angeles and recorded at Capital Records with the Claude Gordon Band, the “DOWNBEAT Band of the Year” at the time. 

Returning to Drake University in 1957, Jerry went on to teach in the Des Moines Public Schools for 28 years. He has continued playing Iowa ballrooms with the Everett Boyer Band and Tom Steinkoenig’s “Sentimental Swing”. Jerry has been an important part of the Des Moines Big Band since 1972. His greatest musical memory is when he had the opportunity to play with the Count Basie Orchestra at the Savery Hotel in 1972.