Gene and Jazz

Gene Arnould tells a story about being a teenager in a Scarboro, Illinois, Methodist youth group meeting one day, listening as the young minister, the group’s leader, talked about being a jazz fan. One young sophisticate murmured approval and then asked, “Do you collect Brubeck?” Gene, whose main experience with music had been the church choir and the Top 40, quietly wondered what a “brubeck” was…

The rest, according to the old chestnut, is history.

Gene attended college in Illinois and then made his way east where he attended divinity school at Harvard, became a minister, and served for a time at Old North church in Marblehead. He left the ministry and opened the Arnould Gallery & Framery on Washington Street in 1978. The by-now extensive record and CD collections went too (and that trajectory is loaded with Arnould anecdotes; he’s among the best story tellers you’ll ever meet).

Anybody who knows Gene Arnould – and we mean in Marblehead and far across the globe – knows that he not only discovered what a Brubeck was and became a jazz junkie, but eventually helped establish a summer jazz series that in 2010 celebrates its 26th season. It’s safe to say (by unscientific accounts) that it is the longest running, all-volunteer, continuously operating jazz festival in the nation, attracting some of the jazz world’s most internationally acclaimed and beloved players, many of whom started out in New England …. (from Marblehead Summer Jazz Celebrates, 2009 and 2010)