By Todd Cohen
SANFORD, N.C. — A 13-year-old Sanford nonprofit that promotes community jazz concerts and brings jazz performers to Lee County public schools now hopes to spur more interest in jazz among students.
Thanks to $2,500 from a program at the Berklee School of Music in Boston that makes grants to support the work of its alumni, the Heart of Carolina Jazz Society will sponsor jazz clinics at Lee County High School this winter and spring.
The Jazz Society, directed by Berklee grad Gregg Gelb, who directs the Gregg Gelb Swing Band, also has purchased a jazz-curriculum packet from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for use in Bullock and Ingram elementary schools in Sanford.
The packet, funded with $600 donated by the N.C. Arts Council and the Kiwanis of Sanford, includes videos, CDs and student guides, and will be used to prepare students for school visits by guest artists performing in a series of three concerts that the Jazz Society produces each year at Temple Theatre.
Those concerts also include performances by a 19-piece community band that rehearses weekly and also stages free concerts the second Thursday of each month during the summer at Depot Park in Sanford.
With an annual budget of $15,000, the Jazz Society also has landed grants of $2,500 from the N.C. Arts Council and $500 from the Lee County Arts Council, and generates $1,500 to $2,000 per concert in ticket sales for its guest-artists series.