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ABOUT US

Dedicated to preserve and promote live jazz on the Space Coast

Space Coast Jazz Society (SCJS) has been echoing the rhythms of jazz on Florida's Space Coast for over three decades. With a mission to “keep jazz alive and well on the Space Coast,” our continued vibrancy owes much to our passionate members and dedicated volunteer Board of Directors. Our organization is run by a group of volunteers who are committed to bringing the best jazz music to the Space Coast community. We host live jazz performances and award scholarships for Brevard County high school seniors. We are constantly working to innovate and bring new and exciting jazz experiences to our audience. Join us in keeping jazz alive and thriving on the Space Coast!

OUR STORY

HISTORY OF THE JAZZ SOCIETY OF BREVARD 

By Alan Simms, Founder and Historian 

 

The history of the Society may have begun in October 1984, when the Historian first conceived the idea of forming a club to promote and perpetuate jazz in Brevard County. Shortly thereafter, on November 11, 1984, the Jazz Club of Sarasota sponsored a seminar at Sarasota to assist newly forming clubs and other inter­ested clubs in getting organized. The Historian attended the seminar, and it was well worth the time and effort to travel to Sarasota. The seminar was extremely well organized and presented a wealth of material and information to help new or newly forming clubs get organized or to smooth out existing organizations. 

 

On return to Cocoa Beach, it became necessary to face the problem of recruiting members. This took several forms. First, the Historian, as a member of Musicians Local 389 in Orlando, had access to the union directory, which was screened for members residing in Brevard County. Preliminary communications went out to them. The response at that time was rather scanty./Next, our current Senior Director, Jack Simpson, was contacted for discussion and suggestions, in accordance with his wide experience in promoting jazz and his numerous contacts in the field of jazz. From this meeting came two positive results suggestion to submit a letter to the column known as HELP, then running in a local newspaper, and Jack's promise to pass the word to some of those friends whom he thought might be interested. The letter was submitted and published (It will be found in the accompanying files), and Jack produced several names that indicated their interest. A few more potential members called in as a result of word of mouth. All of the foregoing took place from the conclusion of the November sem­inar to about April 1, at which time invitations went out to a mail­ing list of 35-40 people who had expressed interest in attending a pre­liminary meeting on April 9, 1984, at the Kiwanis Hall in Merritt Is­land. A copy of the announcement is in the files. 

 

In attendance at this first meeting were 20-25 people. A number of things were discussed. First, a name for the club. It was tenta­tively decided to call it the Cocoa Beach Jazz Club. (This was to be changed later) Some discussion of organization-by-laws, constitu­tion, officers, elections, etc. It was finally decided that we should hold such matters in abeyance until we built up membership and got to know each other better, and to just meet and have fun, playing records, cassettes, video cassettes, and having jam sessions whenever enough musicians attended with their instruments. Also, at this meeting, Dennis Sommers, the Director of the Recreation Center at Indian Harbour Beach, offered us the facilities of the Center for monthly meetings on the first Thursday of each month. This became our "home for many months. The activities of the club during this period at Indian Harbour Beach are reflected in the announcements of meetings in the files. 

 

A highlight was the decision to rename the club the JAZZ SOCIETY OF BREVARD.  Read Original Letter

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Gigi Gordon

Despite being one of only a few female ferry pilots flying planes between Europe and the United States, Gigi Gordon didn’t see herself as much of a trailblazer.

“I got my pilot’s license in 1972. There was no gender difference,” Gordon said. “There were some obnoxious people who thought they were better than a woman, but you just had to be strong enough to shrug it off.”

Gordon started off working for an American company selling airplanes in Europe. The planes had to go back to the U.S. for refurbishment and maintenance, so she started ferrying them. After doing that for a few years, she began participating in air shows in Europe and Asia. 

 

At the same time, Gordon became more involved in the jazz music scene. She has always loved jazz, and both her father and her husband were musicians. So while working as a ferry pilot, Gordon began managing and booking jazz musicians throughout Europe in her downtime between flights. 

In the mid 1980s, Gordon moved from Europe to New York and continued to organize and attend air shows worldwide. She also remained involved in the jazz scene alongside her second husband, a pianist.

 

After her husband passed away, she made the decision to move south to Brevard County. When she arrived in 2016, she was shocked to find that the Space Coast was a jazz desert. The connections she made in New York came in handy when she became a member of the Space Coast Jazz Society, a group whose mission is to preserve and promote jazz music. She immediately got involved, bringing in high caliber musical acts to the area.

“Music opens your heart, your eyes, your ears,” Gordon said. “Be open to the arts and make your own life according to it.” 

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Bobbie Vance

"The most rewarding aspect of promoting and organizing our live jazz concerts is watching how the music makes people SO happy. I am in awe of the God-given ability and talent that He gives each musician...it flows from their souls, through their instruments and into our hearts". (Bobbie Vance)

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Bobbie has always loved listening to music even as a child. In 6th grade, her favorite toys were the radio, record player and a cassette recorder. She remembers recording her favorite songs from the radio so she could listen to them over and over.

Bobbie went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received a Bachelor of Journalism in Broadcasting. Her career has included audio editing and production, TV and radio traffic reporter, morning show on-air personality on radio stations in Colorado and Florida, plus writing, producing and recording radio commercials.

Bobbie moved to Brevard County in 2003 and was exposed to "live jazz" in 2007. She loved it and wanted to get more involved to promote the genre. She has been a member of the Space Coast Jazz Society Board of Directors since 2008.

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Rose Marie Wiley

Image by Jens Thekkeveettil

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