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

Willie Thomas -2011 Inductee

Willie Thomas’ professional career spans forty-five years of performing with such jazz greats as the Woody Herman Orchestra, the Slide Hampton Octet, the MJT+3, singer Penny Lee and many more.  He brought those experiences to Des Moines in 1988 when he was doing outreach work for the International Association of Jazz Educator’s (IAJE).  He was inducted into the IAJE Hall of Fame in 1994.  Though Willie’s stay in Des Moines was relatively brief, it was his vision that originally started the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center.  Because of that vision, Willie Thomas deserves his place in the CJC Hall of Fame.