In 1996, James “Pappy” Martin collaborated with Councilmember Byron Brown, Darryl Peebles, Council President James Pitts and Steve Porter to implement an innovative community enhancement program entitled Masten Jazz Festival. In 2015, upon the passing of Pappy Martin who continued the festival, the name was changed to the Pappy Martin Legacy – Masten Jazz Festival. It is held on the grounds of the Buffalo Museum of Science in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the heart and crown jewel of the Masten District. Over the past 22 years, there have been performances by many internationally acclaimed musicians including: Nasar Abadey, JD Allen, Bootsie Barnes, Gary Bartz, Andy Bey, Junie Booth, Brownman, Etienne Charles, Theo Croker, George Caldwell, Wayne Escoffery, Joe Ford, Dodo Greene, Phillip Harper, Winard Harper, Donald Harrison, Freddie Hendrix, JazzCats, Mike King, Bobby Lavell, Carmen Lundy, Curtis Lundy, Spider Martin, Jeremy Pelt, Wallace Roney, Vanessa Rubin, Patrice Rushen, Serious Young Musicians, Straight Ahead, Malachi Thompson, Camille Thurman, Al Tinney, Mike Wade, Donald Walden, Bobby Watson, Rodney Whitaker, Ben Williams and Warren Wolf, among others. The festival has also presented many local musicians: Bilal Abdullah, Zaid Aleem, Rodney Appleby, Ben Clyburn, Drea d'Nur, Brian Freeman, Douglas Gaston, Jaman, Nikki Hicks, Will Holton, Danny Jelks, Carol McLaughlin, Nelson “Poppa” Lucas, Bobby Militello, Janice Mitchell, William Murphy, Larry Salter, Gregory Treadwell, Darryl Washington and Jerry Youngman, to name a few, along with students from the Love Supreme School of Music.

Buffalo is a city with deep roots in the jazz tradition. It once touted numerous venues that showcased jazz performances: Blue Note, Bon Ton, Calumet, Colored Musicians' Club, Little Harlem, Pine Grill, Moonglow, Revilot, Royal Arms, Shalimar and many more. The city is home to several jazz giants and provided mentors, teachers and audiences for hundreds of developing musicians. This festival is dedicated to keeping that legacy alive as it reinforces confidence, in young and old, that Western New York is a place to not only present world renowned musicians, but also, develop and nurture future musicians.

The Pappy Martin Legacy – Masten Jazz Festival provides a tangible form of commitment to strengthening jazz as a viable entity while offering a festival that honors the artistic, historic and cultural contributions of jazz. The festival celebrates, educates and elevates this very deserving original American art form....jazz. It further serves as an outreach to all neighborhoods in its mission to make music accessible to everyone by keeping it free and open to the public.