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The Sweet Basil Jazz Club Scholarship

The CCNY Jazz Studies Program is excited to announce The Sweet Basil Jazz Club Scholarship. Established in 2021 by CCNY alumni and jazz promoter, Mel Litoff, The Sweet Basil Jazz Club Scholarship will support one student in full in the 2022-2023 academic year. This scholarship will be awarded in its entirety ($10,000) to one student for the 2022-2023 academic year and will support all education-related expenses, including, but not limited to tuition, fees, books & materials, and personal expenses for the student while attending the City College of New York. If the selected student is over-subscribed on financial aid, any remaining balance may be given to the student as a stipend to cover any additional, unmet, related education expense. The Sweet Basil Jazz Club Scholarship is for an undergraduate student applying to major in Jazz Studies – performance, composition, etc.

Mel Litoff, and his deceased wife Phyllis, owned the Sweet Basil Jazz Club in Greenwich Village from 1981-1992. Originally founded in 1974, Sweet Basil Jazz Club was considered among the most prominent NYC jazz clubs of its day. Many jazz albums were recorded live at Sweet Basil, including Gil Evans and the Monday Night Orchestra, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, The David Murray Big Band, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Abdullah Ibrahim with Ekaya. Sweet Basil Jazz Club closed in April 2001.

Mel Litoff was also the Executive and Artistic Director of the Belleayre Music Festival, an annual festival in the Catskill Mountains. Mel and Phyllis raised the prominence of the festival after becoming co-artistic directors in 1993. The festival has hosted such artists as Ray Charles, Sonny Rollins, Lionel Hampton, Chick Corea, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Wynton Marsalis, Frankie Valli, The Neville Brothers, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Rosanne Cash, Arlo Guthrie, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

In addition to his generous financial support for the Jazz Studies Program, Mr. Litoff donated a collection of rare jazz LP records to the CCNY music library in 2019 to help support jazz studies at CCNY. Of the 689 jazz albums in the collection, only 17% were previously available at a CUNY library and 233 albums (33% of the collection) are NOT available on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music or YouTube. For more information, please visit the following link: https://library.ccny.cuny.edu/blog/the-liftoff-jazz-lps-a-special-music-collection

For a list of recordings in the Sweet Basil Records collection, visit: https://library.ccny.cuny.edu/sweetbasilrecords

The Jazz Studies Program deeply appreciates this relationship with Mel Litoff and we look forward to working together with him as we continue to build a world-class jazz program at CCNY.