For the Love of Jazz
Through concerts and community outreach, this passionate group of jazz lovers is working to preserve the art for the next generation of Brevard residents.
Even the most tuned-in locals have probably never heard of the Space Coast Jazz Society. But board members Gigi Gordon and Bobbie Vance are working hard to change that. While much of the society’s current membership is “seasoned,” Gordon and Vance are looking for ways to attract younger audiences and expose them to jazz.
The nonprofit organization is comprised of local jazz enthusiasts and a volunteer board of directors. The group’s mission is to preserve and promote live jazz on the Space Coast. The society hosts concerts each month, provides free jazz workshops to students, and awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors.
On the second Sunday of each month, jazz lovers gather at Rockledge Country Club for a live concert. All concerts are open to the public, and tickets are available at the door. Tickets are $10 for members of the Space Coast Jazz Society and Rockledge Country Club, $15 for guests, and students are always free.
Past President Bobbie Vance said attending a live jazz concert is the best way to appreciate the musicians’ talents: “It’s different than hearing live jazz at a bar or a restaurant because the audience is there simply to focus on the music.”
Upcoming concerts will feature performances by George Grossman and the Swing Boutique on Sept. 9, and Saxophonist Dan Wilburn and Friends Oct. 15.
In addition to the live concert series, the Space Coast Jazz Society strives to expose the next generation to the wonders of jazz. Society members volunteer at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, where many of the residents have been abused, neglected, or traumatized. The students are being introduced to musical theory and are learning to play keyboards. They hope to expand the program by adding additional instruments, eventually building a jazz ensemble.
The society also sponsors a weekly workshop for students in grades 4 through 12. The workshops are held at the Harris Community Auditorium at the Foosner Art Museum in the Eau Gallie Arts District, and any student wishing to learn to play an instrument is welcome.
Vance and Gordon see working with youth as one of the most important parts of their mission, even if they do not go on to pursue a career in music.
“Kids need an outlet. We want to have the workshops available for kids to try it,” Vance said. “Music gives them self esteem and helps them with their school work.”
“One kid plays the flute and another plays the guitar. They learn to work together by playing together. Even if they don’t become a musician, it benefits them,” Gordon added.
Each spring, the Space Coast Jazz Society awards scholarships to high school seniors. Nathan Manierre, a 2018 winner, will be attending the University of Central Florida this fall majoring in jazz performance and computer science.
Manierre credited the organization with helping him grow as a musician.
“My experiences playing with the band were great opportunities for me to sight read in front of an audience and hear authentic jazz style in a big band setting,” he said.
The SCJS is always looking for donations of gently used musical instruments for their student programs.
Check out this article in our DIGITAL MAGAZINE.