Mendocino Coast Jazz Society
Mendocino Coast Jazz Society
PO Box 361, Mendocino, CA 95460.
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The Mendocino Coast Jazz Society was founded in 1984 at a meeting in Bob Ross’s art studio on Pudding Creek Road. Watching Dizzy Gillespie videos while snapping fingers, a contingency of artists and musicians discussed the need for more Jazz: the All American Original Art Form on the North Coast!. Little did we know we would become an educational nonprofit producing many shows and awarding 50+ scholarships almost 40 years later!`
In the beginning we were fortunate to have school bands that included Jazz in their repertoire and savvy music teachers who encouraged students to learn and get excited about the historically unique American music.
The Bob Ayres Big Band was just starting and gave a chance for adults and youth to play the jazz and swing classics with the idea that people could improve their chops and eventually become part of the North Coast musician pool. Help us have musicians to play for Gloriana Opera, symphony, theatre companies, dances, parties and wakes, and more! The Big Band was sponsored as a class by the local college and recreation districts and high schools.
In recent years with tight budgets, much band music has been dropped by local school districts. Restoring programs and promoting live music has become a goal of the Jazz Society. To foster education we have sent musicians into the schools and promoted our yearly scholarship and also a mentorship program.
The Kent Glenn Mentorship Program hired pro local teachers to tutor potential high school music students who seemed to have jazz potential, with 30 music students getting help over a two year period.
A flood of musical events have been produced by the Jazz Society through the years. The first ones were no cover with (donations encouraged) outside “Jazz on the Lawn “ concerts at the Mendocino Art Center. These were most enjoyed by tourists and locals.
Some of the performers included; Vince Wallace, Kent Glenn, Henry Franklin, Chris Amberger, Putter Smith, Mark Levine, Smiley Winters, Allen Broadbent, Norman Bishop Williams. Local professionals included John Gilmore, Richard Cooper, Judy Mayhan, Jack Braet, Fred Raulston, Francis Vanek and, Ira Rosenberg.
Later, “Carnival” a Latin-salsa themed concert series became the yearly venue for scholarship fund raising. Featuring mostly local groups: Pura Vida, Bob Ayres Latin Big Band, Mambo This!. Liz and the Afro-Latin Dancers, and more..
In 2009 the North Coast Brewery became a strong supporter of local jazz education and our scholarship programs. They also supported the Thelonious Monk Institute and brought name groups to their well equipped stage in Fort Bragg. A very tasty brew, Thelonious Beligian – style Abbey Ale, was concocted and featured in their pub on N Main Street, and at the Monterey Jazz Festival and other jazz events throughout the country. Sadly in 2020, with Covid, they dropped their support of our music scholarship and educational programs. Recently we are pleased to hear the brewery started featuring live music again We, of course, hope they will continue as staunch promoters of live music and jazz education again.
In 2022 a very successful once a week no cover “Jam Session” was promoted in the uupstairs Redwood Event Center, in Fort Bragg. It got musicians, dancers and listeners to come out of sheltering and boogie! Donations from the 5 month long series will help to fund the $1500 2023 SCHOLARSHIP given to graduating high school music students.
Thanks to all who donated to Scholarship and Educational programs, also to local stores selling books from the donated Hans and Anne Brunher Music Library.